Pelican - Forever Becoming
15 October 2013

01. Terminal
02. Deny The Absolute
03. The Tundra
04. Immutable Dusk
05. Threnody
06. The Cliff
07. Vestiges
08. Perpetual Dawn

The instrumental post-metal band Pelican are careful not to retread on old turf in their fifth release Forever Becoming, and even within the context of the album itself there isn't any overstatement, no overusing any repetition which might leave listeners completely awash in feelings of "same-old, same-old."

Pelican are what I like to think of as "instrumental builders", they're always busy constructing and adding layer upon layer, brick upon brick. Their tunes are written in a way that is always in an escalating sequence; the more they add, the higher the instrumental power becomes as things steadily progress to their typically climactic apex.

Most of the tracks have post-metal plateaus, by which I mean the build-up reaches a certain point and typically flat lines for a more drawn out delivery round the mid-section, constructing a more atmospheric or melodic bridge. Take the opener "Terminal", its stretch of droning industrial passages receive a quietened centre which becomes a slow rhythmic lull, following which things rapidly escalate with the tight and driving riff of "Deny The Absolute." Such instrumental climbing characterises the record, as constant motion and transitional sequence is its primary motive and purpose.

In terms of their discography the band has climbed a long way from their origins; from their beginnings in the borderline doom of Australasia, and through The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw, which saw an uplifting and trade-marking shift in compositional style, Pelican has established themselves as one of the most artistically diverse instrumental metal bands. Despite controversially shedding the density of these earlier efforts in favour of the melodic movement which ran through City Of Echoes, what such change promised was growth. It is growth and development that makes Pelican such creative musicians; a continual restructuring of a purely instrumental sound is a monumental achievement that few bands can accomplish.

It's a difficult task to assess how the replacement of long-time guitarist and founding member Laurent Lebec with Dallas Thomas has affected their sound at this stage, captured here in their new album, especially when such a sound is one which always changes of natural consequence. Forever Becoming recaptures some of the density of the early records, especially in "Immutable Dusk", yet moves to an altogether different ebb and flow. It's very much a case of "no looking back", as the entire record is an accumulation of transitions and the melodies never resurface in quite the same way within particular songs, and always bring with them some new structural features.

As far as the quality and originality of the song writing goes, Forever Becoming doesn't climb much over their previous work. It seems as if the band itself has reached its own artistic plateau, started at the What We All Come To Need record, upon which they don't really present their sound in a way that is strikingly innovative in comparison to what preceded.

That said, Forever Becoming is fresh material, and that's always a guarantee of a new Pelican record as the band continues to write efficiently and with much artistic merit, considering the demanding task of keeping their instrumental music interesting and relevant in the current post-metal climate.

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Production: 8

Band profile: Pelican
Album: Forever Becoming


Written on 01.12.2013 by
R'Vannith enjoys music, he's hoping you do too.
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BloodTears - 01.12.2013 at 12:37  
This is a good album. It actually surprised me. I guess I had low expectations but some songs are really good. This might be a stepping stone for something great in the future.
tea[m]ster - 01.12.2013 at 17:40  
A nice comeback by Pelican. I was really bored of their last couple of releases. Maybe the lineup change was the shot in the arm they needed. Great review R' , spot on.
Both Bears - 02.12.2013 at 10:49  
Nothing can beat COE, this one is better than WWACTN at least .. can"t say I'm not enjoying this
Opethian - 02.12.2013 at 21:42  
I need to get my hands on this one. Might add this to my X-Mas list. Great review!

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