Pelican City of Echoes

Pelican City of Echoes
Chicago’s Pelican have transformed into quite the metal juggernaut with their third album, City of Echoes. Not only have they effectively shirked all Isis-clone tags of their former selves but they’ve also fully embraced their own amorphous math rock, now injected with power metal riffage in more engaging compositions. Opener "Bliss in Concrete” sets the record’s tone like a headbanger’s SAT analogy: the Fucking Champs are to indie prog as Pelican are to post-metal. The mellow title track recalls the sublime tapestries of Elliott or even Bluebird, and the acoustic "Winds with Hands” wouldn’t sound out of place on a Katatonia or Daylight Dies album. The clincher here, however, is that this doom-riddled arrangement reveals something more. Much more than simply Pelican unplugged, this would definitely blow the doors off the coffeehouse circuit if they ever decided to take that route. But City of Echoes is not all instrumental subtleties, evidenced by "Dead Between the Walls,” with its palpable sense of menace, like a dark-side Don Caballero. "Lost in the Headlights” could be the band’s thrashiest moment yet, as guitarists Trevor de Brauw and Laurent Lebec add real bite to the chordage. The songs seem shorter and more concise than on past albums, efficiently generating more algebraic turbulence per note that results in more foreboding atmospheres. Pelican have entered into a new era of metal that truly pushes the envelope of creativity and City of Echoes combines the most desirable metal elements for riding out the sturm und drang. ( (Hydra Head)