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Pelican – What We All Come to Need

(Southern Lord)

What We All Come to Need
is Pelican‘s first full length release on Southern Lord and and continues their elusive path of powerful instrumental rock. Southern Lord have also announced a tour with stable mates Wolves in the Throne Room, which has the makings of some must see gigs. Two fantastic but very different bands.

What We All Come to Need is a superb album. At turns effortless and drifting then dirty and heavy. Pelican take their post rock post metal sound into darker directions with more emphasis on riff. Ok, post metal, and post rock for that matter, are troubling genres. Or maybe they are just troubled. It’s hard to pin down bands that get labelled post metal. In the case of Pelican they actively seek to avoid categorisation, even to the point of not wanting to be portrayed as instrumental per se. “We’re not instrumental by design. We just didn’t know how to put vocals in our music and for it to sound right,” guitarist Trevor de Brauw said. Drummer Larry Herweg adds that “I think there are limitations that come with having a vocalist. If we had some big burly man in front screaming, we’d be classified as metal. If we had some scrawny guy we’d be emo. As it is, no one can pin us down.”

Post metal can imply a metal past that isn’t necessarily there, so its not that accurate. Although the post in post metal has more to do with a post rock heritage with leanings towards metal. As such it doesn’t describe a movement away from metal from within, rather its a move towards the outskirts of metal. Sometimes, at least. Take Pelican, they place more emphasis on texture and tone over structure and technique. Certainly, Pelican don’t go in for the shred heroics of the Fucking Champs and they are quite adamant that they are not a metal band. And its a fair comment, Pelican aren’t really metal. They take elements from stoner rock and doom but with post rock aesthetics and priorities. Pelican have more in common with Isis and Nadja, or even Godspeed! You Black Emperor, than with Melvins or Mastadon … let alone Meshuggah. They put it best themselves: de Brauw said, “I don’t think of Pelican as a metal band… I feel like we’re part of a trajectory of Midwest bands that kind of blend aggression with a pop sensibility.” That’s something Pelican do very well.


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