Reviews Pelican Nighttime Stories


Nighttime Stories

The passage of time signals many changes; life, death, birth – the cycle continues unabatingly, waiting for the next movement and giving no room for change. For Pelican, the six years since their last record, Forever Becoming, has seen many instances of life, death and birth and the passing of former Tusk member (a project also featuring members of Pelican) Jody Minnoch gave them the impetus to create their most aggressive offering to date. But, life finds a way to derail even the best laid plans and as such it has been over half a decade since we heard a full length from this Chicago quartet. 

Nighttime Stories may have a lovely title; one that evokes images of being cuddled up under a blanket and listening to an elder tell tales of the past but the music on show here is far from pretty. Sure, there are moments of beauty(“It Stared At Me”) woven into the fabric of the songs but the tone is rooted in fear and reminiscence. As though these are the very thoughts of people lying in their beds at night, unable to sleep and thinking of only the darkness and how to crawl out of the shadows. Pelican have been through some life-affirming moments and on Nighttime Stories it’s up to us to disassemble those moments and filter them through our own experiences. 

The darkness of the album cover serves to render the music through visual expression and the claustrophobic, road to nowhere, monochrome style fits the band and their instrumental style. Their brand of post-metal has its roots in sludge and the heaviness of the guitars are laid in crunched-down rhythms, propelling songs into peaks and troughs yet never letting the full force of the music be tempered. The quiet/loud dynamic of other bands in the post-metal scene is pushed to the side on Nighttime Stories and instead the narrative is allowed to arc where needed and fall into moments of respite when required. The pulsing waves of the title track beat with a heart that is all too tangible and we hear Pelican push their emotive energy forward before “Arteries of Blacktop” careers into view, the rushing motion and panic of needing to get somewhere as fast as possible coursing through its veins. 

Final track, “Full Moon, Black Water” begins on gentle acoustic guitars that usher in a short moment of respite from the full throttle accents of the album but that peace is shattered quite quickly by punchy drums (Larry Herweg) and fiery guitars (Trevor Shelley de Brauw and Dallas Thomas) that build and curl around each other as the track moves towards its inevitable end. Momentary light is found at this final point with movements that whisper the promise of hope and that maybe, just maybe, the future is bright. 

8.5 / 10Cheryl
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8.5 / 10

8.5 / 10

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