Pelican – Untitled EP

Pelican
Untitled EP

This Chicago, Illinois quartet plays heavy, gut-wrenching instrumental music that pounds deep into your body. Originally self-released by the band, the EP was good enough to capture the attention of Hydra Head Records’ owner and Isis frontman Aaron Turner. This task alone of getting signed to a well-established and respected label such as HH is quite impressive, considering the HH staff uses most demo CDs as paperweights and portable reflective mirrors. Needless to say, Pelican knows how to rock heavy and precisely with driving rhythms that remain melodic and palatable. I will also add in that I love the name Pelican for a band of this nature. While most projects would have taken some trite hardcore name like “Most Precious Blood,” this foursome takes a simplistic obscure bird as their calling. Someone had originally mentioned this band to me as a recommendation if I liked Neurosis, etc. and I remember being immediately drawn into finding out about their sound just on the basis of their name.
The EP is unofficially divided into two sections: the first two songs are good but don’t show the full capacity of the band. They’re meant more as a warm-up to tracks three and four. “Pulse” starts things out with distorted and delayed guitars, thumping bass, and crashing drums sounding reminiscent of heavier Explosions in the Sky or Mogwai. The song has a nice cascading effect as the whole band incorporates a minimalist drive towards the same chord progression. “Mammoth” has a similar feel as a lone guitar comes in with a lead riff before the whole band soaks up a dense, slow rhythm that sounds deeper than the deepest ocean. This is definitely similar in many respects to the finer moments on the Celestial album put out by Isis a few years ago. The band chugs along the same line over and over before providing brief stints of variation. Again, it really feels good to hear the same notes and lines repeated over and over again.
The real songs of interest come in starting with “Forecast For Today,” which mixes up palm-muted guitars with precise drumming. This is the type of song that needs to be blasted to understand the full force of the project. The jam has an interesting mix of melodic and dissonance and almost lulls the listener to a place outside of their reality – bringing up visions of an end-of-the-world scenario. However, the highlight of the disc is in the 12-minute epic “The Woods,” a song that conjures up reoccurring nightmares that will haunt you for days. It kicks in with a Neurosis (Through Silver in Blood-era) style chord opening that chugs along at a slow pace, really creating an interesting mix of darker aesthetics for the listener. Thing continue at this rate before climaxing halfway through the song where the band shows you they are more than capable of creating explosive earthquakes tendencies. What is key for this song is that the riffs, drumming, and precision are interesting and demand that the listener pay complete attention to what they’re doing.
If this EP is just a glimpse of what we’re going to get with a full-length from these guys, then expect something big. This project has just the right amount of power, force, musicianship, and aesthetics to make a solid name for themselves in this niche genre. If you’re looking for something to give a you a good kick in the stomach while challenging your mind and moving your body around, this is most definitely it.