Pelican – City Of Echoes

City Of Echoes

Metal has come a long way in order to gain acceptance. Parents have had to put up with denim clad stoners in the 70’s, mullet sporting stoners of the 80’s and, well, god knows what stoners in the 90’s. And in that time all parties involved have slowly come to accept the fact it isn’t going away. But the one sect of former non believers has been those cynical indie kids, which is odd considering metal was spawned from hardcore punk. With Tool selling out arenas and Mastodon garnering mass accolades the doors of the genre have broken wide open. It does take certain advancement for that breakthrough to happen however.

Bands such as Tool and Isis have been given the name “post metal” and those that forego singing, such as Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky, are labeled “post rock.” So with that theory Chicago four piece Pelican would fit into the latter category, no? Not a chance. Even though there is no singing Pelican is definitely some heavy shit. There is some maximum riffage throughout their latest, City Of Echoes, complete with double triple quadruple time strumming, (I prefer to describe it as “chugga chugga,”) and I don’t think any post rock band, no matter how post you may be, would feature such an unabashed love for double kick drums.

What separates Pelican from the metal crowd is the penchant for uplifting, nearly happy melodies. If you want to get technical about it they work more in a major key than the minor their contemporaries use, but either way you’re not entirely angry when listening. Guitar lines slide up and down the fret board instead of just repetitious dropped D fury. Not to say there isn’t any of that, ohhhh there is. But it’s more effective when on the heels of an almost gentle passage. Such as the title track; one hell of a song and creates a mood in the vein of Sunny Day Real Estate. But forget that because after not too long it’s into chugga chugga territory that ascends just a bit with each passage.

Though must of the album works in this fashion there are moments of tedium. “Winds With Hands” is a mid tempo acoustic number that cleans the palate half way through the album. It certainly does that but leaves the impression it was written with the distortion turned off instead of being a true departure from the rest of the album. “Lost In The Headlights” occasionally veers into 90’s grunge feel but quickly redeems itself as the song builds to its climax.

Minor complaints aside, City Of Echoes is a powerful album that appeals to the snidest hipsters. Everyone needs to rock out and Pelican craft the intellectual side of heavy rock that makes it acceptable by avoiding singing about tidal pulls or naming songs after ancient philosophies.