Often mentioned in the same breath as fellow art-metal bands like the monolithic and bludgeoning Isis or trance-inducing Neurosis, Chicago's Pelican have made a name for themselves with a formula based on building up tension for a heavy, cathartic release, and many older songs clock in at 10 minutes or more.
On City, however, the instrumental band changes things up, veering away from the quasi-epic qualities that characterize much of their previous work; instead, they opt for shorter and - dare I say it? - catchier, more accessible moments. Pelican compensate for the total absence of vocals by tossing in some crunchy Sabbathy riffs alongside layers of melodic noodling and steady but nowhere near outstanding percussion.
With a further exploration of acoustic instrumentation and the incorporation of a wider range of musical influences (album closer A Delicate Sense Of Balance actually sounds like a tribute to sleepy-time shoegazers Bedhead), Pelican seem to be at a musical crossroads. Let's hope that in the future they come even closer to a triumphant melding of genres while still retaining their heavy edge.
Pelican rock Lee's Saturday (July 21).