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Pelican - City Of Echoes CD (album) cover

CITY OF ECHOES

Pelican

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.49 | 49 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
3 stars No one knows more than a Proghead about the compulsion to organize music into hermetic sub-styles, arranged in a complicated taxonomy of species, genus, family and phylum. But, honestly...Sludge Rock? Sludge Metal? Fair enough, I suppose we all need a pet genre to call our own. And whatever this is, I'm willing to wade through it up to my aging eyebrows, at least once.

Like its namesake seaside bird this Chicago band is an ungainly critter, showing unexpected grace in its natural habitat. The plodding Post Rock tempos, the over-amped twin electric guitars, and the constant ride-cymbal abuse may have all been an aesthetic choice, or it might simply mark the limit of the quartet's technical abilities. The rudimentary boom-thud drumming is an acquired taste: a little more rhythmic imagination might have lifted the music above the high-tide sludge mark. But that was never the band's game plan.

For lack of a cheaper comparison, imagine the Post Rockers of EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY, lacking only the same transcendental glow. But is that really an acoustic guitar I hear, gracing the song "Win With Hands"? In the context of the album's typically doom-laden moodscapes it's an almost shocking breath of fresh air, no doubt sounding to any self-respecting metal-head like freshly manicured fingernails on a dirty chalkboard. But don't fret: soon enough the music will revert back to its usual Visigoth-invasion soundtrack, in the aptly titled "Dead Between the Walls".

Supposedly there's a concept of sorts behind it all, about the increasing homogeny of global culture, but don't quote me on that. Without any lyrical help the music alone is hardly programmatic...thankfully, I might add. Nobody needs a Sludge Rock "Lamb Lies Down On Broadway", or a Sludge Metal adaptation of 'The Wall" (although the latter would be an improvement over the moribund original).

I probably wouldn't have made any effort to hear this album if the group wasn't featured on this web site, and if the album itself wasn't available at my local library. And it may not be entirely representative of the band-at-large, having a lower toxicity level than other Pelican droppings, so to speak. For contrast, bend your gray matter around the title track of the band's '05 EP "March to the Sea": an epic four-star slab of heavy instrumental ambience.

But this album provides an easy point of access to curious newcomers willing to don a hazmat suit. And, not unlike a dose of actual brownfield sludge, it can be hard to clean off your skin afterward.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |

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