Pelican City of Echoes

Pelican are arguably the most successful of the post-Isis sludge surge, though they have not escaped without their detractors. Taking a pronounced turn towards a more progressive, melody-driven sound with 2005’s The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw, City of Echoes sees them continuing in expected fashion, yet in certain key ways taking tentative steps backwards. While the entirely instrumental (as usual) material radiates an upbeat, emotionally ecstatic tone, crushing riffing is unexpectedly present throughout. Pelican have clearly set out to deliver a release free of the sombre indulgence of many recent post-metal offerings, and in that respect they have succeeded. However, the band’s all-too-present flaws still nip at their heels — the percussion still stands out inappropriately like a particularly gnarly sore thumb and many of the tracks are filled out by slow-moving, forgettable grooves and scattershot chord progressions. On one hand, Hydra Head’s critical darlings are jaunting headfirst in the right direction. On the other, they still remain unable to deliver a career-defining classic. (Hydra Head)