Pelican Australasia

Seditious to the tenets of traditional vocals, Pelican eschew any singer convention and depend solely on their Herculean riffage to provide enough hooks to sustain the listener. Hailing from the art-doom genus, it’s no surprise that Hydra Head signed this Chicago instrumental quartet, for they sound exceedingly close to label-mates Isis. Following the critical acclaim of last year’s re-issued demo, the Untitled EP, the band — buttressed by the granite-fortified rhythm section of the brothers Herweg (Bryan on bass, Larry on drums) — crawls forth from the primordial muck with their debut full-length, nearly an hour of variegated suites of hulking riffs. Australasia is an appropriate title because this epic doom could very well be the soundtrack for the separation of continents: "Drought” could easily see mammoth chunks of rock and ice slake into the depths, the sea claiming the void between tectonic plates. Their Isis veneration commences with "Nightenday,” with its brief, distantly rumbling intro before the doom gates open. "Angel Tears” is melodic in parts, almost like ’80s Van Halen, and the untitled track five is actually acoustic, with a saw like Hawks & Doves-era Neil Young. Like label-mates 5ive, Pelican also undergo periods of languor where the chordal repetition gets too tedious, and no lyrics mean that the band is destined to face crowds of heads bobbing in unison to the beat. But Pelican are their own inner sanctum, and, for the moment, Australasia is their grail. (Hydra Head)