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.
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.