Review Summary: Australasia is a sweeping sonic journey that never feels old or boring, making it one of the most heralded albums of the post-metal genre.
Pelican, characterized by heavy dissonant riffs, subtle melodies and deep grooves, busted onto the post-metal scene in 2003 with their debut effort, Australasia
. At the time, Australasia
was unlike anything I’d ever heard before, as the music sounded like an adventure: Pelican would slowly evolve their riffs, ideas and moods with such grace and precision over the album’s lengthy runtime that it every track came together and felt like one cohesive piece of music. To this day, I’ve yet to year anything quite like Australasia
, and it still stands out as being one of the greatest albums I’ve ever heard.
To best describe this album, I would say that Australasia
is like the soundtrack of the sun going in and out of rain clouds: it's dark and gloomy at first, then rays of sunshine peak through the darkness before the full-on sun comes out, only to dip behind some clouds again as the cycle repeats. The music is just as slow, but just as organic and majestic. The music on Australasia
evolves so naturally and beautifully that it sweeps you up and takes you to several different locations, and it honestly feels like you’re riding the tracks of an encompassing, expansive journey.
The album’s opener, “NightEndDay”, establishes the overall feel and vibe of the album right away and it never falters once. The song starts with a series of random noises and clacks and swells before bursting in with the first riff. Everything drones to begin with, but it always feels like it's moving forward, and there is always a more melodic section somewhere to contrast the heaviness at various points in the music. Melodies and emotions quietly wash up underneath the heavy, chugging metal riffs and there's always something there to keep you interested.
The standout track, “Drought”, starts off with frosty cymbals slowly counting in and accompanying the dry, sludgy guitars as they slowly crawl and establish a deep, nesting rhythm. The song slowly picks up before becoming a swirling arrangement of slow parts and fast parts that are accompanied by guitar harmonics and pick scrapes. The chaotic weavings of the later half of the song sounds like a disaster, like buildings are falling on top of you. The rhythm builds the stage of the song and the variations keep you enveloped right to the very end.
Another absolute standout of Australasia
comes courtesy of the untitled track. The breather of the album consists of melodic acoustic guitar, but it also features a beautiful singing saw that gives the track a gorgeous, ghastly feeling, and helps set up the heartfelt undertones of the closing track. The untitled track proves to be a prime example of what makes this album so great: the song, when listened to on its own, works beautifully, but it also fits and compliments the songs before and after it on the track listing.
Even without having any vocals or lyrics of any kind, Australasia
still conveys so many emotions and moods that it really stands out as being a landmark album in the post-metal genre. Every song proves to be a beautiful puzzle piece that can be admired on its own, or you can fit the pieces together to enjoy the whole picture, but no matter how you listen, Australasia
proves to be a sprawling effort that showcases heaps of creative, organic and admirable musicianship.