Wow. Another excellent release from Pelican! What We All Come To Need surpassed my expectations, and it was hard for me not to give this album a full 5 stars, but I don't do so lightly. If I could give quarter or half stars, this would probably come in around 4 1/4 or 4 1/2. The songs are absolutely incredible, and show Pelican continuing to move in a new direction (in the same vein as City of Echoes and the Ephemeral EP). They definitely do not have the same, slow sludge sound that they mastered on their self-titled debut EP and Australasia, but that certainly isn't a bad thing. They still possess all the heaviness of their previous records, but have expanded it by adding new sonic tools to their arsenal. The drumming is much more noticeable (as it was on Ephemeral) and adds faster rhythms to the mixture, and the guitar riffs are very complex - some of the best of their career. As it seemed to be with their approach on City of Echoes, they absolutely pack as many nasty licks into each measure as possible.
The album opens with a bang on "Glimmer," slowly building up soundwaves and then crashing your eardrums in waves. Fans might notice that the track "Ephemeral" was actually present on the EP of the same name. In the past, Pelican has released different versions of the songs for their EPs, and then presented a trimmer, more cut-down version of the track on the LP. However, this version of "Ephemeral" appears to be nearly the same track, although it does sound ::slightly:: different, as if they maybe re-recorded it for the LP. But the difference is not as pronounced as the EP and LP versions of "March into the Sea" for example. The track "An Inch Above Sand" was actually released on the split 7" with Young Widows on the Temporary Residence label as part of Young Widows' 4-part split series (also excellent). However, unless you have a USB turntable handy, that track was vinyl-only. So it's nice to have it in this format as well. And trust me: there is plenty of new music here to go around. Check out Pelican's Myspace page - they're streaming the entire album right now if you want to listen to it before purchasing it.
The most notable moment on this album is the last track, "Final Breath" which represents a completely new musical attempt from Pelican, because it actually has vocals. Sung by a guest performer, Allen Epley, the lyrics are great. It was a little difficult to listen to at first, because Pelican held out so long without doing a song with vocals. However, after listening to it once or twice, I find that it is a great finale to the album. This is not an attempt at selling out, and it certainly does not throw Pelican into the mix with other screaming metal bands. The words are actually sung, not growled or screamed as one might predict. However, the lyrics blend amazingly. Also featured are guest performances by Aaron Turner of Isis (guitar), Ben Verellen (bass), and Greg Anderson (guitar).
The special edition, available exclusively at Southern Lord, includes a bonus DVD and is limited to an edition of 2000. I would recommend picking up a copy of this version while they're available. These guys are arguably the hardest working musicians in the business, releasing an EP or an album at least once a year, as well as extensively touring. I would highly recommend seeing them in concert if you get the chance, especially since they tend to play with other excellent bands from the Hydrahead and Southern Lord labels, and they keep their prices on everything way down to make it affordable for everyone. Great release!