When they’re not busy catching prey with their large beak and long throat pouch, Pelican are also an instrumental metal quartet from Chicago. Their music is usually categorized as “post metal”, which means they combine the atmospheric qualities of Post Rock
with the slow, chugging riffs of Sludge Metal
. They also have been categorized as “hipster metal”, which means they have been mentioned in Pitchfork at least once.
Though technically considered an EP, their debut release is just shy of 30 minutes, with the last two tracks (of four) taking up most of that run time.
The “post metal” elements are most noticeable in the opening and closing tracks: “Pulse” has thick, droning guitars playing a surprisingly hopeful-sounding melody – it’s one of the album’s more evocative tracks, since it manages to be ominous but sort of beautiful at the same time. “The Woods”, meanwhile has a more straightforwardly menacing riff, but uses the textbook Post Rock
formula of starting out slow and (relatively) quiet before gradually building up to a crescendo.
The middle two tracks are more of what I think of as typical “sludge metal”, but still offer some unusual touches: “Mammoth” nicely offsets it’s trudging riffage with a middle-eastern-sounding melody. “Forecast For Today” features a series of great, almost Kyuss-like stoner metal riffs, but also throws in another Post Rock
-style crescendo section near the end.
The album is not without a couple of minor flaws though: First of all, while the guitar sound is perfect for the genre, the bass and drums frequently sound a bit distant and tinny in comparison – that said, this was originally recorded as a demo. The other problem is the drumming itself, which feels a bit clumsy and off-rhythm at points. Still, this is quite a promising debut and I’m interested to hear more.