Devil's Review: Pelican – Ataraxia/Taraxis

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.

-Harley

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