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The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw

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Average Rating
★★★★½
(38 Reviews)

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Description

With their newest epic, Pelican bring on new levels of complexities to their already distinctive auditory stamp. Acoustic guitars take their place beside the group’s traditional (read: highly amplified) power-droning and awe-inspiring instrumental anthems. Whether this signals the end of the underground musical landscape as we know it, or the beginning of a new one is anyone’s guess. Luckily, it rules either way. They’ve toured with Low, Tortoise, Isis, Mono, Cave In, Daughters, The Bronx, A.R.E., Weapons, US Maple, and more.

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  • You know whenever you hear a certain part of a song, that it just grabs you? I’m talking about a small instrumental piece that is often thrown in to submit a different mood or simply just add some diversity to the chorus and other familiar parts of the song. I’ve found it everywhere from Pearl Jam and Van Halen to going back to Thin Lizzy and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. It’s sometimes when I hear these brief but impressionistic parts of a song that I wish I could find an entire album like that.

    I’ve listened to some of Devin Townsend, but recently I ran across a band called “Pelican”. I usually start at the beginning but in this case I picked up their latest release “The Fire in our throats will beckon the thaw”. I wasn’t sure what to expect at first, although electrifying and atmospheric rock/metal music that is void of a vocalist interested me enough to get it. Pelican plays atmospheric music that has various other styles incorporated into the fray. Think of it perhaps like Tangerine Dream meets Dream Theater, although I’m sure I’ll get rotten fruit thrown at me for that one. The bottom line is, this isn’t like a lot of instrumental bands I’ve heard in the past. Each song is unique in it’s own right. We don’t get overplayed overtures nor do we get a frenzied, energy drink fueled guitarist who is trying to impress us by screaming through the chromatic scale with a background of medieval wonder accompanying it. The CD is great whether you are kicking back or driving on a road trip somewhere.

    Track Listing:

    Last Day of Winter: Starts out with slow, carefully arranged guitar parts before getting into a groovier, albeit somewhat dark and heavy feel. When its not pouring out eclectic guitar sounds, its crashing at times with thunderous drums that wind down before launching into a nice, fast finish.

    Autumn into Summer: The song starts out reminding this listener a lot of older Rush tunes, with an elegant and slow instrumental that has a lot of soul to it. Three minutes in, it speeds up and garners power as the guitars start taking on more life. The mood is timeless and the sounds expand into an ethereal world that just over four minutes becomes a crescendo as it waves upward before dropping down into a new chorus of riffs. Truly a fine track that has great changeups.

    March into the Sea: This track has a lot more crunch and crash to it, offering a lot of high powered riffs and assaulting percussion that is less “progressive” in feel and perhaps more of an all out jam. At least that is what you think until you get over four minutes into this 11 minute epic. Soon you are totally gone from the high-speed riffage and the song takes on a more elegant, although still rocking appeal.

    Pelican, or “*”: My copy says the song is called Pelican, but after reading various sites and other people’s comments to this, I’ll leave it up in the air. Some are saying it’s a hidden track since its not denoted in some parts. Regardless, this track clocks in less than five minutes but has unplugged tenacity that reminds me a lot of Nuno Bettencourt’s earlier guitar work with Extreme. It’s a nice “intermission” track no matter what the final title of it may be.

    Red Rain Amber: Another song that stretches over 10 minutes in duration. RRA has a heavy bass line in the opening riff and is another that reaches high crescendos that have that uplifting feel to them later in the song. Great guitars again, with many memorable parts throughout.

    Aurora Borealis: A song that is very atmospheric, but in a sense that it teases you with a lot of haunting, spread out tones before going into a slow, simple rhythm that reminds this listener of a couple different Pearl Jam tunes from back in the day. Almost a xylophone sounding chorus that is easy on the ears. Great track!

    Sirius: Perhaps the most defiant song on the album, Sirius reminds me of the structures that ELP had back in the day with songs like “No fanfare for the common man”. The guitars are simple but the tones they evoke are always different and lead up to some great thrashing thunder that is soon accompanied by even more differing guitar parts that only add to the pot.

    A very impressive CD, if you are looking for rock/metal music that is creative as well as artistic in sound. If you like Soundtrack scores, Tangerine Dream, or any number of instrumental albums, you should give this one a try. The band mixes it up enough so that the listener is always experiencing something new, but never feeling lost. Instead of drowning in noodling experimentation, this CD gave me music I can enjoy, and enough of it that I am not hitting playback over a 20 second ditty like you may have found yourself doing on certain albums that had a particular part you really liked. Pelican didn’t reinvent the wheel, but to a listener who enjoys this kind of music, they sure got it rolling again.

    Posted on January 14, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Don’t think of Pelican as being an experimental/post hardcore, hard rock, or progressive metal four piece from Chicago. Think of them as being an uncolored photograph surrounded by bright paintings.

    Pelican use guitars, bass, and drums, so they are, essentially, like most every other rock band. Except they’re missing one thing: a singer (who brings color to the music). And, even though the lack of color won’t grab your attention right away and may even bore some fans continuously, there are many advantages to being a colorless picture. This way, you can focus on the art itself, be mesmerized by its subtleties, and not be distracted by the loud, sometimes dominating and overbearing colors. And it’s not like this group’s second release, “The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw,” is monochomatic by any means. On the contrary, the guitars, drums, and bass make the music come to life and almost leap off of the page (and out of your headphones). Plus, the use of acoustic guitars gives this album some needed texture, contrast, and splashes of light.

    “The Fire…” certainly doesn’t skimp on riffs, as most of these songs are at least partially heavy. These parts of the songs usually echo Burst or Mastodon; but there are just as many melodic and Isis-esque atmospheric moments to offset them. Furthermore, many of these songs are a little of each, since they start out slowly and build to a heavy crescendo.

    “Last Day of Winter” begins this album with the sound of serene guitar feedback backed by a crashing, reverberating drum beat. From there, the song becomes increasingly noisy before fading out and eventually becoming occupied by pretty acoustic guitar plucking. “Autumn Into Summer” is similar to the track previous to it. It begins with light, dwindling strings and slow drumming, but it gradually becomes faster and climaxes with crunchy, churning riffs.

    At eleven and a half minutes long, “March to the Sea” is one of the lengthiest track on this record. It’s mostly one speed, and its lumbering power chords and thumping drums also make it the hardest song. But, conversely, the very next track, “Red Ran Amber,” which has two squeaky clean acoustic guitars, is one of the prettiest and most docile tunes you’ll find on here.

    Next, “Aurora Borealis” features a few more semi-heavy guitar hooks which transition into a wall of ear-drum piercing guitar feedback, and the song ends by segueing into a dreamy string arrangement.

    Song number six, “Sirius,” is mainly a very low key and spacey number, due to its beautifully ambient acoustic strums. Lastly, the seventh track (a hidden track), continues in the same vein as the song that came before it, until about two minutes in (when the punching electric guitars storm back onto the scene and close out the album.

    “The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw” isn’t for everybody. Even though it goes up and down in volume, it definitely does not follow the traditional verse-chorus-verse song structures. Plus, most of these songs will seem a bit anti-climatic at first. If you don’t like either of these things, or if you think you’ll be frustrated without a vocalist, this disc is not for you. But if you’re willing to expand your horizons, listen to this album more than once, and try something unconventional and innovative, don’t be surprised by the surprisingly rewarding results “The Fire…” gives you.

    Even I can’t help but wonder what Pelican might sound like with a singer; but, all in all, this band needs a frontman about as much as a painter needs a piece of chalk.

    Posted on January 14, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • From thundering avalanches of sound to soft, glistening melodies, Pelican’s ‘The fire in our throats will beckon the thaw’ is a perfect, and very dynamic album.

    Sure this is not as ‘heavy’ as previous releases.. but heavy is definately not what Pelican is all about. Pelican is about soundscapes.. and the soundscape painted with this release is a of grandoise scale. It seems to capture the ocean-like swelling sounds of newer Isis, but is less repetative and more entertaining.. even without vocals. Yes the repetition is still there, (as always will be with ’soundscapes’) but there is more ‘variety’ to the repetition if you will. I know that doesnt make a whole lot of sense, but you have to listen to this masterpeice in order to understand. This is not only a very atmospheric piece, but it is also very cleverly crafted in the sense that nothing sounds out of place, overdone or overly accented.

    An entrancing journey to say the least.

    Posted on January 13, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • More like four-and-a-half stars

    This album is blissful metal from second one to second last. There are two things that hold this back from a five, both of much-less-than-catastrophic import: 1) The drummer and bass serve as back-up to the brilliant guitar interplay of Laurent Lebec and Trevor de Brauw, serving to make them something of an afterthought (still, certainly not the only excellent band to operate on such a template); 2) Nothing quite manages to approach the invigorating breath of Odin to the synapses that is “March to the Sea,” which is a career-defining opus by any honest critic’s account.

    And really, I adore the rest of this album. The album starts out bristling with “Last Day of Winter,” a refreshing blend of doom chords, serious guitar harmonizing, and melodic (!!!) feedback. Every song on this album is quite strong. Little can prepare a listener for “March to the Sea,” even after the cajillionth listen. It starts out dirgey, perhaps the best instrumental approximation of Nordic hordes marching to battle where the fjord meets the ocean I can envision in my ear. And then it continually morphs into something else and something else and something else. Really, in the end it might be a good thing that the drums and bass lay back a little. It’s not as if drummer Larry Herweg comes close to resembling any sort of slouch. Around the seven minute mark of “March” he does some very evocative cymbal work, making them sound as if they are being played backwards, though they are not. This isn’t the kind of rock where everyone shows off at once. Indeed, nobody really ever shows off at all (the album has no true solos). It is all an ambient adventure. Done with the instrumentation of a traditional metal band. Sounding not in the least traditional. Indeed, sounding quite radical.

    By the end of “March to the Sea,” everything rushes into an absolutely unpredictable and thoroughly musical frenzy. As opposed to other bands who rock out “without structure,” these guys certainly know what they are doing. E.g., some other reviewer here compared them to Metallica. Metallica can’t do free form noise with anything resembling this kind of proficiency. Listen to any live Metallica song with “free form” sections and you will hear what I mean. They sound like people randomly hitting different parts of their instruments. Pelican very conscientiously deconstruct metal and rock, making it sound beautiful, uplifting, and menacing as they do it.

    This is simply a stunning record on many important levels. If you want rock that suggests so many things at once that you can barely handle it, this is the album for you.

    Posted on January 13, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • This. Is. Amazing.

    Anyone even the least bit into music can appreciate this simply amazing album. There are no vocals, only instruments that carry the listener across waves and waves of beautiful sound. This is my first Pelican CD, before this i never took much notice of them or their name..but after hearing the hype for this album and reading how great it was and that it’s (and the band is) similar to bands like Neurosis, Isis, Cult of Luna..i thought i just had to get it to really understand what people were talking about.

    The tracks on this album are nothing short of awesome. All of them, at least to me, conjur up a sort of emotion..be that sadness, a sense of determination and even reflection on anything. It’s a CD you could listen to while overlooking the ocean from a great view, for example. It’s that beautiful and melodic. The song “March to the Sea”, was originally 20 minutes long on their “March to the Sea” E.P that came out just before this album..unfortunately, (And it’s probably the ONLY downside to this album) it’s cut down to around 10 minutes here.

    I think for most people hearing this, it’ll take a couple of listens to fully grasp what’s going on. It did for me, at least. This album should not be missed by any fan of Pelican, or by anyone who is into instrumentalism. Pelican are extremely talented, and deserve alot of respect. This album is absolutely 5/5.

    Posted on January 13, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now