It has been about four years since the release of What We All Come to Need, what was in my opinion the only weak moment in Pelican’s career. The Ataraxia/Taraxis EP, released in 2012, gave a first idea of the shape of things to come and now Forever Becoming has finally landed.
Pelican was never a band that would stay in just one place. From the doom/sludge of Australasia, to the post-rock of The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw and the post metal after effect of City of Echoes and What We All Come to Need, the band is constantly transforming and re-inventing its sound. The case is quite similar with Forever Becoming, with Pelican taking another step further. Original guitarist, Laurent Schroeder-Lebec left the band and has been replaced by Asschapel member, Dallas Thomas. In a sense this change in the line up has somehow reinvigorated the flame of the band and now they are ready to move forward.
From the intro of the album, “Terminal,” you realize that what is going to come up next is going to be heavy, and soon enough “Deny the Absolute” sees the band letting loose their furious side with the heavy riffs overwhelming you and the tempo taking control. The melodic bits on the guitars are always present while the powerful drumming and heavy bass are building the solid foundations for the track. In a sense what Pelican seem to be missing is the melodies that would fill the space between the riffs but what they have gained is extra weight and more energy.
Pelican continue down their path of devastation with “The Tundra,” as the always heavy riffing are creating an insane wall of sound with some swooping melodies coming through whenever they are needed. The guitar part about three and a half minutes in the track is truly magnificent. That is the absolutely brilliant part of Pelican’s sound: it is always emotional. No matter if the band is unleashing heavy riffs, whether they are playing melodic or dissonant parts or if the drums are being hit with anger, there is always an underlying sentiment to all their parts. For instance, the heavy outlook of the band has been dialed down for “Immutable Dusk” allowing the band to undertake a more emotionally direct approach, enriching the soundscapes and the dynamics of their track with some moments of serenity from this ongoing storm.
“Threnody” might appear more peaceful at first but it soon causes an unsettling of the nerves while Pelican quickly return to their trademark playing and heavy riffs. Of similar interest is “The Cliff” with the drums and bass forcing the whole sonic landscape of the track to move as the dreamlike guitar melodies give an imposing feeling to the listener. Of course Pelican soon return to their heavier self and with “Vestiges” they are truly making the ground shake under your feet with the unrealistic drive of the track as Pelican are leading you through their immense soundscapes and heavy riffs.
Forever Becoming is concluded in the most suitable way with “Perpetual Dawn”, with the band slowly leaving their heavy side behind and start to focus more on the melodies and feeling of the track. The atmosphere that the band is creating in this case is truly unique and when the track finally breaks into a storm of heavy riffs you are left speechless with the ability of Pelican to create sonic trips out of their compositions.
In their latest album Pelican were able to once again re-invent themselves. It is as if at the time this is the same band and then it is not. It is quite weird in a sense but what matters mostly here is that Forever Becoming is an amazing album, filled with heavy riffs, emotion, melodies, solid grooves and great songs.
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