Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Pelican - Nighttime Stories CD (album) cover

NIGHTTIME STORIES

Pelican

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.24 | 6 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

TCat
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Pelican is a major Experimental/Post Metal band that was founded in Chicago in 1999. They have been quite an influential band in the Post Metal genre over the years and have often been praised for their work, which is typically very heavy, dark and thick. Even though they have been one of the more popular bands in this genre, they have not always been a favorite of mine mainly because of the feeling of sameness overall. However, I still like to check in on them once in a while because there is no doubt the band is talented.

After releasing a few live albums, several EPs, a box set and 5 full length albums, and after 6 years, the band has released a 6th album in June of 2019 called "Nighttime Stories". Since I do have an interest in the band, I thought I would check it out to see where their sound has taken them. The line-up for the album consists of the same basic two-guitar, bass, and drum set up that has been their sound since the beginning with Trevor deBrauw and Dallas Thomas on guitars (the only non-original member having replaced Laurent Schroeder-Lebec in 2012), Larry Herweg on bass and Bryan Herweg on drums. The album consists of 8 tracks ranging from 3 minutes to 8 minutes with a total run-time of just over 44 minutes.

The opening track, "WST" is a 3 minute tribute to Dallas Thomas' father who died recently and is played with his father's acoustic guitar. It is accompanied by a deep bass and sustained notes which gets a bit heavier when the drums come in. The music is mournful and dark. "Midnight and Mescaline" is the first single released from the album. After that dark beginning, the sudden upbeat rhythm of this track will disrupt your reverie that you feel from the previous track. It is a nice surprise to feel a faster track and it has plenty of thick guitar layers, so the basic Pelican feel is there, discord and melody along with heavy riffage that give an almost stoner vibe to the music. So far, this is an impressive and interesting opening for the album.

"Abyssal Plain" has a title that reflects the muddy feel of their past work, but the beat is surprisingly uptempo again. With staccato notes, it evokes a brighter feel, but tends to move into some really thick sound from time to time. Overall, however, it is surprisingly catchy with the drums going off on some wild rampages a few times which take you into some mountains of noise, but always returning to a more melodic tone, but building to a heavy metal sound by the time it's done. "Cold Hope" is introduced with instant heavy chords and the drums come in with a more moderate beat this time. This one is more reflective of their heavy trademark sound, crashing cymbals and more of a trudging, lumbering feel. The wall of heavy guitar and drums is present through the entire track, but there are some melodious moments that play above the thick sound. The riffs can remind you a bit of Black Sabbath, but much thicker. For me, it's too much of an assault of noise mostly because it persists for almost 7 minutes.

Next is the quieter "It Stared at Me", which still remains dark, but doesn't assault you with sound. It floats along freely with lighter percussion and an almost psychedelic feel, much like the meandering feel of "Careful With That Axe, Eugene", and you almost expect to hear maniacal screaming, but it doesn't go that far, opting to remain lighter, even when the drums fall into a regular cadence later. The title track "Nighttime Stories" comes next with more of the trademark heaviness. The music has the doom metal feel and brings in another thick wall of plodding guitar work with even less melodic passages, just churning guitars. Again, this doom metal sound is not my cup of tea, but it is what the band is known for, so fans will be happy with the full-on assault of guitar heaviness.

"Arteries of Blacktop" continues with this thick sound, but at least has some sections where the drums push the rhythm along faster, but by now this sound is getting taxing and taking on the feeling of sameness like their past albums. This track finally flows into the last track "Full Moon, Black Water", and the album manages to surprise again with it's atmospheric beginning ringing from the previous track and a sudden acoustic guitar strumming. Don't settle in too much though as it all explodes into heaviness soon. This jamming wall of noise continues up until the last minute, where things actually become nice and reflective for the ending. It's too little, too late for me though.

I guess I keep hoping for more variety, and, even though this album delivers that especially in the beginning, it soon returns to the trademark doom metal attitude and then drowns in that sound for most of the album. There just isn't enough experimentalism or variety that I keep hoping for. There are small bits of sunlight and reprieve from that dirty, grimy sound, but the music pretty much remains the same as before. I was hoping for a bit more variety this time around, but once again, it isn't enough and the album finishes with nothing really standing out to me. Those previous Pelican fans should love this though, because it remains faithful to their sound, much too dark, thick and not varied enough for my liking. I need to go get a dose of vitamin D now.

TCat | 3/5 |

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this PELICAN review

Social review comments () BETA







Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives