Review Summary: A fine return to form, featuring a darker vibe than previous outings.
Many people, including myself, would say that post metal veterans Pelican haven't matched the quality of their first two albums with their past few releases. However, with this album, it is safe to say that a return to form is apparent, as Nighttime Stories proves to be quite possibly the best they've done in over a decade. Retaining all the qualities and quirks that made the band so likeable in the first place, Nighttime Stories delves into darker, heavier territory (exemplified in the title track) as well as balancing these heavier moments with ambiance and well crafted melody. Abyssal Plane even features some forms of blastbeat, further emphasising the fact that Pelican were more willing to experiment with their sound on this more than ever before.
From an atmospheric perspective, the band have got that covered as well. Opener WST sets the tone for the record nicely - a dark, brooding track that begins with acoustic guitar and swells of distortion in the background. Album highlight Full Moon, Black Water begins with gentle acoustics before throwing the listener into a barrage of sludgy guitar riffs. That is another thing that is notable about the album - this is a much more sludgy affair in comparison to previous works. Whilst the guitars are never pushing the boundaries in terms of technicality, the riffs are well written and sonically powerful. The quintessential features of post metal are evident throughout the album - masterful layering of sound, density and a dichotomy of heavy and soft. It can be said that the majority of the tracks are on the heavier end of the spectrum, which will delight many I'm sure.
Pelican can be proud to have released an album such as this. By combining everything that was present in their repertoire to begin with, as well the addition of new ideas and a dash of experimentation, the band have succeeded in producing a more than solid piece of sludgy post metal goodness. Easily their best in a very long time, I'd recommend this to anyone with a penchant for not just instrumental or post metal music but music in general.
Midnight and Mescaline
Full Moon, Black Water