City Of Echoes

[4/5] There are two kinds of Pelican fans: 1) Diehards who will hotly argue that the rougher demos from 2005’s The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw kicked that album’s ass; and 2) casual true believers who think every song sounds pretty much the same (and therein lies the Chicago instrumental quartet’s appeal). True believers, get ready to be born again. City Of Echoes has a broader palette than its three predecessors-but mostly, it puts the metal back in instrumetal.

And all the Fire demo fans should be happy this time around: Producer Andrew Schneider (Cave In, Keelhaul) brings in the songs raw. Reinforced by bassist Bryan Herweg, riffs by guitarists Laurent Schroeder-Lebec and Trevor de Brauw feel like they’re chiseled from rebar. The full-contact “Bliss In Concrete” is the first Pelican song that deserves a pit (thanks to drummer Larry Herweg’s fine double-bass work), and the eruptive militaristic rallying of “Dead Between The Walls” is the perfect name for the ominous composition. Beyond industrial-strength riffage, Pelican go all Tortoise for the acoustic “Winds With Hands,” strumming and plucking like it’s jam night at the Black Sabbath Café. Barista, get the band a double shot. (HYDRA HEAD) D.X. Ferris


Red SparowesAt The Soundless Dawn

Don Caballero’s World Class Listening Problem

Karma To Burn’s Wild, Wonderful Purgatory


You’ve said this album is about “describing a change in yourself.” How do you describe anything without using words?

I am totally obsessed with how a music piece can evolve, taking listeners to different places through subtle or drastic changes, conveying emotion with certain notes. For me, the imagery that is attached to our music, the place I escape to when I play music, the experiences that have been relayed to us from listeners-they all seem to involve dynamics, change and adapting the music to a certain part of your life.

Most importantly, we’ve titled each song after an experience that relates to life on the road, or the way that relationships at home are challenged by absence of one person, or how amazing it can feel to hit the road and consider the possibilities in your life. Or simply being told a fucked-up story about some poor soul at a venue dying between two walls and no one finding him for months.

Where does a Pelican record take you?

It takes us all to a special place. We all travel to those regions of heart, passion, hope and just sheer excitement at playing music. I think you’re driven by that sometimes-inexplicable feeling of bliss when you play. Otherwise, why else would we do it?

Do you care for the term "instrumetal"?

I don’t really care for too many hybrid music terms, but as a fan of words and language, I can appreciate the need to be creative to describe bands or other things. [Drummer] Larry [Herweg] and I especially are huge lifetime fans of metal. But there’s so much more that influences us.

In the past, your central themes have been environmental. What are some environmental issues that you’re particularly concerned about lately?

I care about animal welfare and the insanity of factory farming. I am totally concerned by preservatives, seeds that self-destruct, how conglomerates control our ability to grow food, antibiotics in our food, how terribly workers tied to food production are treated, [and] how we’re using up what little green space we have without giving back. It just feels so parasitic. So with that in mind, I’d recommend the documentaries The Future Of Food and The Corporation, and the book Fast Food Nation. I am definitely concerned by sustainable agriculture, lack of green space, over-consumption and the corporatization of our environment. -D.X. Ferris