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Pelican City of Echoes album cover
3.43 | 63 ratings | 11 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2007

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Bliss in Concrete (5:29)
2. City of Echoes (7:05)
3. Spaceship Broken-Parts Needed (6:03)
4. Winds with Hands (3:56)
5. Dead Between the Walls (5:05)
6. Lost in the Headlights (4:09)
7. Far from Fields (5:17)
8. A Delicate Sense of Balance (5:24)

Total Time 42:28

Line-up / Musicians

- Trevor de Brauw / guitar
- Laurent Lebec / guitar
- Larry Herweg / bass
- Bryan Herweg / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Aaron Turner @ Feral Pig

CD Hydra Head Records ‎- HH666-124 (2007, US)

LP Hydra Head Records ‎- HH666-124 (2007, US)

Digital album

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PELICAN City of Echoes ratings distribution

(63 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (30%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

PELICAN City of Echoes reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Prog-jester
3 stars Am I the first to be unsatisfied with it?

Nothing extremely awful - riffs are crinchy, acoustics are touchy, everything in its right place...But tracks are short and undeveloped, melodies are bleak and somewhat nu- metalish and the whole impression is like standing on a crossroad. Very uneven album, though very predictable in the same time. PELICAN is a good band, they had a wonderful album two years ago, but now they've decided to have a break and concentrate on a less complex stuff. And this is rather disappointing for me. Anyway, I like them and hope for a better (read "improved, challenging, more interesting") release in future.

Review by OpethGuitarist
2 stars Rather disappointing from a band claiming to be "a f*cking triumphant band".

The Neurisician mold of bands have always inspired me, with their disregard for conventions and love of incredible riff structures. From Oceanic, to Australasia to everywhere else these bands have traveled, there has always been a quality to them that makes them more than the mere onslaught of their riff abilities and transcends them to an artistic force.

Here I see confusion, and most importantly, wimpiness, a term neither of these bands have ever been associated with. The tracks do not have the feeling of raw, brutal energy that made songs like Angel Tears beautiful and poetic, but rather instead seem sophomoric and underdeveloped. This is something I'd expect from Explosions in the Sky, not from Pelican.

This is not to say that none of the tracks are without merit, however, if one was looking for an interesting experience in the field of progressive metal besides the big name bands, this album I would not suggest, as it leads itself more towards regression than progression in the band's sound.

Review by Dim
3 stars This is my first encounter with this band, and I have a few mixed feelings towards them. I think the are an excellent example of control in a metal band, precise musicianship, excellently structured songs, and completely non pretentious, except the drummer! As a drummer he is very skilled, but the fact that he is doing crazy measure long fills and overdoing the beats is SO contradicting to the band. This is a group that fights against the metal, where everyone in the band is absolutely crazy, doing whatever they want whenever, and yet the drummer cant control himself at all, sad. Anyways about the music...

Like most post rock, the recording is a bit shoddy, but I was completely ready for this. The only major recording flaws are the lack of bass, but the rythym guitar is playing every note of the bass line for most of the album, so that can be a reason. Most of the songs are very much the same, but are all quite interesting, and are really nice just for some ambient noise, or to concentrate on for a while. One of my favirote things they use (or dont use) are power chords. It seems that every note played by the guitars are strictly single notes, which is very nice if your tired of the same old drop D guitar sawing. The only setback to this style of playing is that it's hard for the song to build and climax, but I guess the excessive drumming and crazy arppegios help out that flaw quite a bit. My favirote songs are City of Echoes, spaceship broken, dead between the walls and a delicate sense of balance.

The songs are built as if they would have words, leading to some dull moments. The flow of the album is generally, heavy song, soft and slightly poppy, heavy, plus or minus the acoustic song. Most of the songs start out with a soft or heavy guitar witch quickly builds. Then the song escalates to a very fast mid section with some high flying and beautiful arpeggios, and crazy double kick. The ending sections are almost unanimously the same, all slow down, the rythym guitar is no longer distorted, the lead is still doing some sweetly saturated presicion picking, and the drums usually stay quite obnoxious. After listening to the album a couple of times, it gets very predictable and boring, but some songs stay affloat. City of Echoes is probably the most impressive song, because, there is always a twist in the song, and it reaches multiple climaxes.

Overall, I was impressed, but not to the point where I was ecstatic about the album. It lacks a certain poise, that most classic albums have. The best thing about this album is the precise note hitting by the guitars, everything the lead guitar does is very pretty and excact. As for the worst thing about the album, is it's repetitiveness, like I said, it gets very tedious and predictable after a couple of listens. I do believe that Pelican does have a lot potential they have yet to tap on that they will find in the next album or two.


Review by Petrovsk Mizinski
4 stars This album was quite a departure from the Pelican sound many of us had become accustomed too. It was an album that was shaped by the band's experience touring and how as they went from city to city, they could see the effects of globalization making the Western world cities (indeed quite possibly more so than the 1st world cities) seem more alike over time. This is obviously, quite a shift from the mainly environmentalist nature of the previous records, now onto a record that at it's core features the theme of globalization. While you get a sense of anti-globalization from the name of some of the songs on this album, the band has also stated that this album was not meant to evoke entirely negative messages.

The first thing I noticed about this album upon listening, was the lack of doomy sludge in the sound, something that had become quite a common sound in previous Pelican outings. Some people that were hardcore Pelican fans and would have hoped to have heard the band continue with that sound for the next record after The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw, might be sorely disappointed in this regard. There seems to be much less power chord action happening, with Trevor de Brauw and Laurent Schroeder-Lebec concentrating more on single note lines, and the textural melody of the previous albums that helped to add complexity to the overall sound are thankfully not absent from City of Echoes. Trevor and Laurent still sound like Trevor and Laurent, in that you will be able to hear their style again in this album even if they abandoned some elements of playing that featured on their previous album. So no matter how much this record changed from The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw, you still know it's Pelican from their guitar styles.

Bryan Herweg's drumming, really captured my attention a lot more on City Of Echoes. More complex, filling a bit more space (but also appropriate in the musical context) and really just more present in the mix of things. A fantastic musical performance on Bryan's part. Larry's bass could be heard well too, which is always a good thing too. Perhaps I could even say this album feels less guitar driven and more band driven perhaps. It really just seemed there was a little more interplay between all the band members.

It's safe to say, while The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw was very much a post metal record, City Of Echoes is more post rock sounding, leading to perhaps post rock/post metal record. Some may not like that change, but I really liked it, as it showed a little more diversity in Pelican's sound. Also quite evident, is the much shorter track duration on average, which of course means there aren't any of the epic 10 minute plus tracks we encountered on previous outings

Standout tracks for me, are City Of Echoes, Spaceship Broken-Parts Needed, Winds With Hands (at the time of writing this review, the track was incorrectly named Win With Hands on the PA track listing information) and Dead Between The walls.

City of Echoes has many twists and turns, and it makes it so enjoyable to listen to. It may a tad over 7 minutes, but in that space of time, it achieves a hell of a lot and feels almost like a mini epic. Spaceship Broken-Parts Needed has some extremely uplifting moments and packs a heck of a punch in just over 6 minutes, an impressive effort and so far (not including albums that may be released after this review), it might just be one of my favorite Pelican songs ever. Whenever I've put City Of Echoes on for a spin, Spaceship Broken-Parts needed was always put on repeat several times, it was just that much of an amazing song to my ears. If you're looking for one of the really heavy songs on here, Dead Between The Walls is the one. It may not be sludgy, but it still crushes. Complex interwoven guitar lines feature in the heaviness too, so it's not just a non stop heavy onslaught. Winds With Hands is the acoustic track. Very Dark in nature and a few really interesting twists too boot. The rest of the album is also very good, and not a single track I would skip either.

The Recording quality was perhaps still a little 'lacking' like previous releases, but it feels more cleaned up to a degree though, but for what it is, it fits the vibe of the music perfectly. While the album wasn't flat out amazing from start to end, the songs that I love, are just amazing and make up for anything the album lacked for me. I really admired the bands courage to change direction, all the while doing so while being able to push forward in some areas, and still keep enough of their signature sound that you know it's Pelican and no one else. Fans of the sludgy Pelican sound might want to give this a miss, but if you want to hear the band take on a different approach with excellent musical results, I think it's well worth the listen.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Pelican are a well-established name in the Post-Metal field and a mandatory listen if you want to get acquainted with the genre. For skeptics of harsh vocals, the fact that this is instrumental music, might be an attractive prospect.

Pelican's main business is sludgy doom riffs, but it's the kind of riffs that evolve through the songs, varying in context and mood, growing louder, wilder and then back to quiet. When they quicken the pace the music gets a slight math-y feel for me, as on 'City of Echoes'. Also post-punk influences can be heard, as on the 8th note chorused bass riff in the same song. The songs are shorter then on your average post-metal album and they also sound more composed, going through distinct movements and themes. Halfway through the album I find my attention wane, the songs keep re-iterating the same ideas too much, and there's little in sound or hooks to distinguish them from one-another. Maybe the lack of vocals is somewhat problematic after all.

I have come to understand that this album isn't in the same vein as those that preceded. I'm not entirely satisfied but still my interest to hear more from this band is peaked. A good instrumental post-metal album but nothing exceptional. 3.5 stars

Review by JJLehto
5 stars It generally seems to be that this album is not too well liked by Pelican fans, or that "It's OK but just not that great". Well to each their own but I love "City of Echoes" and it is actually my favorite Pelican album so far.

It has every staple of Pelican's sound: very heavy, dense and intricate guitar work, progressive song writing with awesome riffs and melodies. In fact it was the band's higher emphasis on riffing that always made them stand out to me from most other post metal bands. As well as their less reflective, (even brooding) more upbeat nature.

While all that is still present, "City of Echoes" is more streamlined than past work. The longest song is 7 minutes, with four of the eight clocking in the 5 minute range. While some die hards may automatically dislike this, I always love to see a band and change it up and see nothing wrong with more to the point, (dare I say....accessible) songs.

Don't worry, this is no pop album, the songs still move...but instead of drifting to the end of the river, it flows with more force. Maybe the climaxes and finales are not as mind blowing, but the songs may be more powerful, more energetic. Basically, it's all the good of Pelican but a little easier, a little more rockin. I'm OK with that.

This is all backed up by the drumming, which is a bit more up tempo and diverse than before. It gives a different touch to the music, some feeling, (always nice to sound human and not like a machine right?) and intensity. There's even some pretty quick double bass at times! It's still pretty straightforward, but better and as the band themselves have said, they are not trying to be Don Caballero here.

Of course the album is still guitar driven, and the riffs and melodies are the best yet. As always the dual guitar work is just awesome. Working in unison, as lead/rhythm, or diving in and out of each other. It's so well done. De Brauw and Schroeder-Lebec are guitar wizards.

There's also an increased emphasis on bass, taking a prominent role as another instrument instead of just bottom filler. I think it always gives the music a more textured sound.

The songwriting is great, perfect flow and progression. It's not always heavy either, dipping in the clean pool a good bit. Most importantly: great variation. Not just in song, but every song has a bit of a different feel to it. It's difficult to pick standout songs since they are all great, but the acoustic "Winds with Hands" is a good change of pace and "Lost in the Headlights" is my favorite. The most energetic on the album it also best does a little of everything said in the review above.

Amazing album, maybe some Pelican or post-metal fans will not care for it's less epic nature, but cmon a little different won't kill ya! An awesome listen, and should be enjoyable for any fan of progressive metal. It's even gotten enjoyment from non metal heads! If you can take some heavy guitar, I recommend "City of Echoes" regardless of what you like. It's also instrumental so don't worry about unpleasant vocals.


Five Stars

Review by Neu!mann
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 aesthetic choices, or they might have simply marked 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, minus 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 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 uniformity 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 with matching headphones. And, not unlike a dose of actual brownfield sludge, it can be hard to clean off your skin afterward.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Pelican has always been a solid Post Metal band with a heavy, grungy and almost sludgy sound that I tend to get tired of rather quickly, because it doesn't have enough dynamic in it to suit my taste. Yet, I recognize their importance in the Post Rock and Metal genre, because when I think of that heavy wall of sound that some Post Rock bands have, I tend to compare them to Pelican. Their songs typically can be long, developing slowly sometimes until you are enveloped in this wall of noise, or sometimes just relentlessly grabbing you by the ears and dragging you under.

"City of Echoes" is Pelican's 3rd full length album, and one of the things I find intriguing about it is that it tends to be a bit lighter than some of their other albums, but it isn't to the point that you doubt you are hearing the same band, there is still a lot of heaviness to it, but the overall sound seems more adventurous. However, except for the title track, the songs are a bit shorter, staying around the 4 - 5 minute mark. You would think that taking Pelican in smaller sized chunks would be easier to digest, but now it seems that the songs are underdeveloped in some cases.

As most seem to acknowledge on this site, the best tracks are the first 3. As expected, "Bliss in Concrete" hits you hard and heavy, which is fine for an opening track, and the music is intriguing enough that it stands out from similar sounding bands with a good churning melody and a solid sound. "City of Echoes", the title track has great development, and the heaviness factor is lifted allowing the music to breath a lot more, and by the end, you welcome that muddy bass sound that drills its way into your head. "Spaceship Broken - Parts Needed" has a humorous edge to it as suggested by the title. There is that distinctive dual guitar sound, but the faster beat gives it a more uplifting feel, and the guitars feel more like they are interacting together instead of battling each other.

"Winds with Hands" starts to see a weakening in development and a lessening in the momentum that the band was seeing on this album. It is an acoustic number with a slight symphonic edge to it, but nothing really develops out of it, and as it seems to be building to something, it falters by adding a droning style that seems out of place. "Dead Between the Walls" returns to the sludgy sound of previous albums that even with it's shorter run time, just seems clumsy and uninteresting to me. Even the softer part in this track doesn't really add anything to strengthen it. The uneven drumming from the past is evident on this track too. "Lost in the Headlights" isn't anything really special as it just sounds like a heavy metal riff in need of some lyrics. There's more uneven drumming and uninteresting melodies in "Far From Fields" that again sounds like it is looking for vocals. "A Delicate Sense of Balance" just meanders jangly along at the speed of a dirge.

I applaud the effort Pelican made to try to bring more lightness and variety to their sound, but they forgot to bring enough interesting passages and melodies with them, and, after the first three tracks, everything just sounds like backup for songs that were supposed to have vocals added to them. Anyway, the albums gets away with 3 stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Pelican along with Neurosis, The Ocean, and Isis are my favorite post-metal bands. City of Echoes is great because like a lot of post-metal, it is full of sludge and doom metal riffs, but it also has the prettier, atmospheric side to it too. The album is a solid piece of instrumental post-metal that ... (read more)

Report this review (#2452365) | Posted by progtime1234567 | Monday, September 28, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I’m moved. How beautiful it is here! No more sludge. Pelican altered their sound al last – and I’m happy that they did it! To be honest, at the moment I can’t say I like their previous works – they just seem too heavy and doomy to me. City Of Echoes is completely ... (read more)

Report this review (#161933) | Posted by Paper Champion | Saturday, February 16, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars City of echoes is more straight foreword than Pelicans early releases. The songs are more heavier than ever but less creative. There are some good songs on the album like the title track City of echoes,bliss in concrete,Space broken parts needed,lost in headlights,and A delicate sense of balance. ... (read more)

Report this review (#146610) | Posted by JROCHA | Tuesday, October 23, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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