Review Summary: Pelican's best album, [i]The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw[/i] combines heaviness and beauty in what should be an essential addition to the collection of any fan of post-metal.
One of my fondest memories of high school features Pelican’s The Fire In Our Hearts Will Beckon The Thaw
. I was sitting in a class that nobody cared about, with an absent teacher, listening to Pelican on my mp3 player, and as my mind boggled at exactly how awesome Autumn Into Summer
was, I decided to share the love. I handed my headphones over to one of my friends, and sat back and relaxed as she began to listen.
After three or so minutes, she asked ‘When does the singing start?’
I laughed, and told her.
Welcome to Pelican’s magnum opus, a dark, sludgy, shifting yet bright and uplifting hour of music called The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw
. Along with Isis, Pelican are pretty much the primary torchbearers of that dark and mysterious genre known as post-metal, and as such, there are no vocals here. Pelican are just two guys with guitars, one guy with a bass, and another on drums, and the music they make is utterly captivating.
For the most part, Pelican eschew the riffage of their metal contemporaries. The music is heavy, crushingly so in some places, but it’s not what you’d call br00tal – Pelican drop their guitars a long way down, and proceed to create music that’s simultaneously heavy and pretty. The opening part of Last Day of Winter
to it; the guitars are dark and sludgy as they traverse the fretboard, the drums pound tribally, and the song lumbers on its way until we’re met with feedback and a light drum pattern, which in turn gives way to a soft guitar arpeggio which carries a part of the song that can only be described as beautiful.
In some places there’s almost a mysterious element to the music. The mixing is such that you’re not always entirely sure what each instrument is doing – all you can hear is the song itself. What’s certain is that Pelican know how to pull off the loud-soft dynamic that is so much a part of their genre; they keep the soft parts interesting with squeals of feedback or eerie effects, and they’ll throw a great melody into the middle of their heaviest parts (4:20 in Autumn Into Summer
, the best moment on the entire disc).
There are two kinds of songs on this record. The first is the song that’s not so much a song as a movement
– in both the musical and traditional senses of the word. These tracks (Last Day of Winter
, Autumn Into Summer
, March to the Sea
and Red Ran Amber
) all start with humble beginnings, to build and build in that typical post-metal fashion to become something else altogether, transforming one riff into another until the song reaches its final climax and subsides. These songs are all over or around 10 minutes, yet they seem to go by in seconds. Pelican are just that good.
The other three songs on the disc belong to the second type. These songs aren’t as heavy, and with not one hitting the six-minute mark, they serve to give the listener a break from the massive and sometimes confusing pieces that make up the rest of the album. These tracks really bring out the beauty that Pelican are so good at creating, especially Aurora Borealis
, which features high, fragile guitar melodies that really contrast with the monstrously low sound of such tracks as March to the Sea
. Special mention must be given here to the fourth track, which doesn’t have a name. It’s entirely acoustic, and it’s five minutes of some of the best music I’ve ever heard. I don’t even know why it’s so good, but it is.
This album is a triumph of instrumental music. Its only flaws are that March to the Sea
and Red Ran Amber
are possibly just a little too long and not as awesome as the two other long tracks, but they’re by no means bad songs. If you like post-anything and don’t have this, go and get it now. Seriously, guys.
Last Day of Winter
Autumn Into Summer