Pelican. Not exactly a name that screams “METAL”. If you don’t know what Pelican are about, they are a strictly instrumental group from Illinois on Southern Lord Recordings. I am admittedly not that familiar with their older material and before this EP had heard only a couple of songs. Their earlier works tend to get pretty good reviews, but later offerings get rather mixed reviews and are often referred to as “post-hardcore”, whatever that means. Ataraxia/Taraxis, to be released on April 10th, is just a 4 song work lasting all of 17 minutes, so it seems like a good way to become somewhat familiar with Pelican and their current sound.
Ataraxia/Taraxis starts off with the track Ataraxia, an acoustic, ambient number. If this were a full album and not an EP, I think this would have been a nice way to intro. In the case of the shorter format, it sets the mood, but goes on a bit too long. The second song, Lathe Biosas, is the highlight of the EP and is where we get a bit more of a darker metal vibe from the band. Riffing, tone, and melody make a nicely done mid-paced tune that could be on any kind of (slightly) sludgy Southern metal type of album. Pelican add a bit more than would normally appear, though, in the melodic parts, probably due to the lack of vocals. The song ends rather abruptly after a buildup. Parasite Colony is doomier and more ambient, though still with that Southern sludge feel. It has a melancholy feel, and exudes a certain heaviness. Closing song Taraxis starts with acoustic guitar and a wind instrument (maybe a flute?) that have a nice bit of tension and release throughout the first part of the song. It builds into another heavy, atmospheric composition, but also abruptly ends like Lathe Biosas, concluding the EP.
I realize this is just an EP but it left me wanting more, and I am not much of a doom/sludge/stoner fan – maybe the precise goal of the band. Ataraxia/Taraxis is a good basic introduction to modern Pelican and has an ambient, atmospheric, sludgy feel to it. The day I first listened to the EP was a gloomy, rainy day – rather fitting for the mood of the EP. This EP is a good break from my normal rotation, and its length makes it a nice, short listen. Despite what feels like almost incomplete songs in the two that end so suddenly, I am looking forward to more Pelican in the future.
I hear the sound in a METAL way.