City Of Echoes

Written by: PP on 23/06/2007 02:56:37

It's always difficult to review an album by a band that has achieved a cult status within its scene, so I think it is important for me to start off this review by saying I haven't heard a single Pelican song before I got a hold of their new album "City Of Echoes", so I will have zero, nada, no idea about whether or not it matches their alleged masterpiece "The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw". But if it doesn't, and let me know in the comments if that's the case, I'm ready to allow my jaw drop to the ground over how unbelievably good that record must be, because "City Of Echoes" in my books is a masterpiece, a sparkling display of the ultimate beauty that can be achieved merely with instruments, a new milestone in the genre of instrumental rock/post-metal or whatever you wanna call it.

Their sound is slurry and sludgy which supposedly stays true to their earlier sound, and the instruments are occasionally heavily distorted such as on the thundering "Dead Between The Walls", while at times they are softer and more acoustic like on "Winds With Hands", which apparently is a new approach for the band, and in my ears it works equally well to the more metallic songs. The unifying factor between the two extremes is how utterly and incredibly beautiful they both are, because Pelican can afford to send a layered wall of noise your way on one hand, while on the other hypnotize you with calmer passages filled with unearthly melody without fear of failure. One only needs to listen to the title track carefully to notice how amazingly versatile and full of life the instrumental work is, you will rarely find a passage where you'll think the band is repeating itself. It is this what makes "City Of Echoes" such an enjoyable listen, because without any vocals distracting, it is possible to truly appreciate the inexplicable sense of melody dwelling from the pulsating guitars and the tumbling bass guitar and the gentle drumbeats that make the sound possible.

The truth is, the more I listen to "City Of Echoes" the more I appreciate its elegance and instrumental refinement. On each listen, I find new passages that strike me as awe-inspiring or inspirational, passages that make me just stop what I'm doing and just listen very carefully, and then applaud the sheer magnificence of it all. As a first time experience for me, I don't recall a single moment where the absence of vocals would worked adversely to the song, quite the contrary in fact.

I've always wondered how instrumental bands make up the titles to their songs since they have no vocals, but Pelican is an exception because the titles on "City On Echoes" are described through instrumentation surprisingly well. Listening to "Bliss In Concrete" indeed paints a picture of never-ending concrete parking lots and asphalt jungles in your mind, and through the use of melody as a story-telling tool, it allows the listener to draw his own conclusions whether or not it truly is possible to find something beautiful in the so called 'concrete-hell'. More difficult to explain is of course "Spaceship Broken-Parts Needed", which is one of the most spacious and beautiful of songs on the album. But that I'll let you discover on your own, as it is an important part of the Pelican experience.

But make no mistake, "City Of Echoes" is a massive grower. Upon first listens you'll be wondering to yourself what good is an album without vocals, but it just needs some time. It keeps getting better and better - I'm two months in and there's no end in sight. A post-rock/metal masterpiece.


Download: Spaceship Broken-Parts Needed, City Of Echoes, Bliss In Concrete
For the fans of: Isis, Neurosis, Tool, Explosions In The Sky
Listen: Myspace

Release date 05.06.2007
Hydra Head

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