Pelican – City of Echoes

On their 2005 effort “The fire in our throats will beckon the thaw“, Pelican had already exchanged their doom sound for a gentle more accessible one. They lost a lot of power, but this made their songwriting skills shine through much better. What direction do they take on this new full length?

The opener “Bliss in Concrete” is hard to place. It’s one of the louder and harder pieces on this record, reminiscent of older Pelican works. The pounding force however is neutralised by the absence of any stand out riffing.
The tittle track offers a different approach. It fits in more with recent Pelican sound using some gentle guitar melodies with the bass staying nicely in between. It mixes up faster and slower parts effortlessly. We never reach that epic height like some of the older work did, but that’s o.k. because the modest ending is very fitting here.
“Spaceship broken – Parts needed” sounds rather radio friendly. The build-up is not very successful. On top of that the drums seem slightly off beat. When the song finally picks up tempo near the end it does become interesting but too bad we had to sit through 4 minutes of bland stuff before this.
Winds with Hands” is the acoustic intermezzo, by now a Pelican tradition. The native American influences give the song a laid back “Rockie Mountains” feel to it. But they push their luck and it goes on for 2 minutes too long, losing a lot of its impact.
Dead between the walls” & “Far from fields” are the two stand out tracks on the album. They both have very solid endings and start off with heavy pounding guitar riffs that actually stick in your head. They contain the traditional elements Pelican has mastered to perfection. Like quiet to loud parts and impressive technical skill on the guitars.
Lost in the Headlights” has the band throw some more radio friendly riffs in the mix but its just not very memorable.
A delicate sense of balance” closes the album. The beginning is amazing and shows the potential this song had. The slowed down tempo works very well with the mechanic drumming. But somehow they manage not to use the beautiful opening riff in the rest of the song. The result : Another track that just doesn’t go anywhere. The modest ending is not so fitting here, both to the song and to the album as a whole.

So we have a few good tracks and a lot of mediocre stuff that will be forgotten by next year. Another big problem is the lack of atmosphere. A Pelican album should sound epic and triumphant. Only one or two songs managed to evoke those emotions. The much shorter songs also prevent epic build-ups or heavy repetitive droning riffs, two of Pelicans trademarks of the past. I must say this album was quite a disappointment. Don’t trust me though , you can check the entire album out on the official Pelican website by clicking here. So is this a transitional moment in Pelicans career or have they lost touch?

Out on Hydra Head, June 2007
Written 04/07/2007

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One Response to “Pelican – City of Echoes”

  1. […] go (SCO, Rock, February, Sonic Unyon) #12 : Pelican – City of Echoes (USA, Metal, May, Hydra Head) Review #11 : The Angelic Process – Weighing Souls with Sand (USA, Ambient Doom, May, Profound […]

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