June 7, 2007

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Pelican, City of Echoes
Hydra HeadeadHead Records, 2007

It used to be that any mention of the Pelican brand included Isis and Neurosis in the same exhale, but no more. Isis is off doing a sonic art thing that’s jaw-droppingly tedious, Neurosis is still hard at work on halving their song lengths by dipping a hesitant toe into 16th notes, and Pelican has, as of this LP, become what they probably never wanted to become: a Sabbath band without a lead singer. They’ve mellowed, experimenting with shorter, less self-indulgent song structures and poking their heads into Volume 4-style arpeggios, indications that guitarist Laurent Schroder-Lebec was serious when he dubbed this third attempt the band’s “pop album.” It’s quite clear that there were times when they pictured an Ozzy or a Dio singing over certain riffs, so maybe they’re holding a Star Search in their Chicago dungeon and not telling anybody, who knows. Time’s the killer, because everybody knows the score here: regardless of their bloodthirsty riffs and yeoman touring ethic, a singer-less Pelican remains doomed to panhandling for fans at strange-bedfellow shows in the big cities while non-metro kids stick with oldies and emo-metal. B- — Eric W. Saeger