I took a shot in the dark when I went out to the store and bought City Of Echoes
. I had never heard anything by Pelican before, but I’ve certainly heard good things. I wanted to begin to expand my horizons away from things like Black Metal and Death Metal, to a sort of mellow, instrumental post-metal sound. It’s not quite branching far off from where I was before, but it certainly is a start. The biggest and most noticeable difference between this and the stuff I have been listening to is the lack of vocals and the constant calming, ordered structure which I am not used to at all. Sure, this still has some heavy and distorted guitars with pounding drums and all that, but the times when everything just slows right down and a nice melody is calmly put forth is when I know that this is something entirely different.
Part post-apocalyptic noise, part nature oriented bleakness, Pelican sort of lands themselves in the middle of numerous genre labels, one of which being Metal. Instantly you can notice their obvious influences from this genre, but as the album progresses you will most definitely notice other, more subtle hints towards virtually every kind of music. The amazing thing is not how Pelican takes all these sounds and melds them into fantastic music, but how easily and smoothly they put everything across. The ebb and flow here is nearly flawless, and the progression of each track is barely noticeable. Pelican go from a wall of guitars to a single simple riff to distorted guitars to calm acoustics so smoothly you will barely notice the transition. It is in this amazing sense of form and functionality that City Of Echoes
becomes an album that virtually any fan of music will be able to enjoy.
Pelican doesn’t just take parts of each kind of music, they innovate each aspect they take. It is really an accomplishment when a band with absolutely no vocals of any kind can create a 45 minute album of entirely different material, and that is the true genius at play here. Sure, there are some similarities between the songs, but also vast differences. They take the brutality of Metal and harness it into something presentable and listenable. They take the serenity and peacefulness of Post-Rock and make it darker and more ominous. It is in this bleakness and emptiness that the name City Of Echoes
really takes it’s effect. The lack of vocals makes it sort of a barren sound, with the instruments just echoing in the background. It’s hard to convey into words really, but Pelican know how to write music like this while keeping the listener simply enthralled and captivated by the subtle changes in guitar riffs and the shuffling around of emotions.
I’m usually a fan of the heavier stuff on albums, but here it’s those really calm and beautiful moments which capture my attention. This naturally leads me to songs like the completely acoustic (not to mention absolutely amazing) “Winds With Hands”. Songs like this make me completely relaxed, with nothing but the soft acoustic strumming and slow, interesting riffs sort of floating into your ears. It’s not just on this song either, nearly every song has points when everything just sort of halts, and out of the silence comes one single guitar riff, strumming slowly for a few minutes before the wave of drums take the song back to where it was.
One of the biggest downfalls of this album is the fact that the songs simply aren’t long enough. For a purely instrumental album, I would expect the songs to be nice and long, taking their time to get all the riffs across. Pelican is known for having some long songs, so this will surely be a disappointment for fans of their other material. The lack of length doesn’t take away from the quality of the material on here, though. Expect lots of calming, but sometimes heavy songs which just take you away from it all and make you relax, whether you want to or not. Sure, some parts in the songs may get a bit repetitive, but before you know it a new song will be on to whisk you away to something completely new and something even more interesting than the last song you heard.
As a more or less die-hard Metal fan such as me, you owe it to yourself to trying something outside of the norm. Even if it is just a small step outside of Metal, Pelican’s City Of Echoes
really is a great place to begin. It is the first Pelican album I own, but it certainly will not be the last. Pelican has captivated me with only one album, and my craving for more will, I’m certain, lead me to enjoy this band even more.
+ Excellent Use Of Instruments
+ Lack Of Vocals Really Brings Out Each Instrument
+ Excellent Musicianship
+ Good Fusion Of Genres
+ Very Relaxing
+ A Good Change Of Pace From Metal
- Not Really That Long
- Some Riffs Are Repeated For Too Long
- I Wish There Were More Acoustic Guitar Lines