Release Date: Oct 27, 2009
Record label: Southern Lord
Genre(s): Rock, Metal
Sunn 0)))'s Greg Anderson adds a third guitar to "The Creeper," helping out Laurent Schroeder-Lebec by adding a kind of harmonic sense of the tune's main riff and pulverizing chorus line. This is the most menacing, metallic cut on the set. And in fact, it doesn't sound like Pelican at all. This is big, fat, power metal riffing slowed to a midtempo crawl.
Throughout the course of their career, Pelican has drawn constant comparisons to doomsludge greats Isis, and rightfully so. The massive wall of sound, the crushing waves, the dynamic planes; these are all reasons that prompted Pelican’s signing to Isis lead guitarist Aaron Turner’s Hydra Head Records to release their acclaimed debut Australasia in 2003. But to write Pelican off as just another Neurosis-worshipping, Isis-copying bunch of toadies misses the point by an enormous degree, marginalizing a unique group with much more to offer than just good, old-fashioned meditative metal.
What We All Come to Need marks a welcome return to and expansion of Pelican's riff-heavy strengths, particularly coming off of 2007’s misfire, City of Echoes. The Chicago-based band's sound is well-worn by now, yet the album find the band following a similar course as the songs on it: bracing, attuned to composition and density, yet capable of surprises and unexpected satisfying progress. Possibly most important is this: Pelican's fourth album is their heaviest to date.
Pelican’s predicament is a curious one. Just as their forebears Earth were eclipsed by the bands that Dylan Carlson’s doomers inspired, so in recent years have Pelican been threatened with irrelevance in the face of the white-knuckled restraint of Red Sparrowes and – most dangerously with their excellent third album Geneva – Young Turks Russian Circles. Then there’s the fans, split ever since Pelican moved on from the pummelling of debut album Australasia to embrace a more complex sound; there’s those that quite dig the spindly, occasionally shoegazy interplay of guitar chiefs Trevor de Brauw and Laurent Schroeder-Lebec and those that shout ‘Judas’ from the sidelines if bludgeoning catharsis is not served up on a plate.
Rock music developed as an art form with vocals, so when people hear guitar, bass, and drums in unison now, they expect to hear vocals, too. That's a reasonable expectation. The human voice is the oldest musical instrument, and the one that resonates most frequently with people. Instrumental rock attempts to supply that resonance with, well, instruments.
Is the label “post-metal” in use anymore? It seems like the pioneers of it themselves have attempted to steer away from that moniker by changing their sound into something different, probably for a good reason. Regardless of where they are going, I’m going to know these bands–Isis, Mouth of the Architect, Russian Circles, the almighty Jesu, and Pelican–as post-metal. All of these bands are good, yet I never really paid attention after listening to their second albums (except in the case of Jesu, because Justin K.