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Customer reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change

on 29 October 2003
The much eagerly anticipated debut full length album by this instrumental four piece from Chicago finally arrives and it’s certainly well worth the wait!
Following on from their truly excellent (bordering on classic) Untitled EP reissued earlier this year also on Hydrahead, Australasia contains only six tracks but clocking in at a tad over 50 minutes it is a quite stunning piece of work. The production is again absolutely faultless, the guitars and bass sound Massive and the drums are as heavy as you could possibly want or even conceive. The overall affect is a truly magnificent sound, of which you probably couldn’t better in my opinion.
The opening track NightEndDay is a whopping 11 minutes long and as soon as you hear the reverb and bass line you know that Pelican are going to take you somewhere special. Pelican themselves say the album has a start middle and end; I like to call it a journey. The band’s sound is all about total immersion and huge great epic sweeping landscapes of sound (soundscapes?!) that sometimes leave you wondering what the hell you have just experienced but knowing full well you just have to listen to it again, and again and again…….
The album appears to be almost in two halves, NightEndDay sets it up nicely before the pummelling, thunderous and downright scary riffs of Drought leave you gasping as the incessant power of the band shine through in a track that I thought was similar in style and tone to Mammoth on the Untitled EP. The third track Angel Tears is a more “traditional” doom song, long chord sustain and slow rhythmic drumming prevail here until six and half minutes in and the tempo changes to a chug-a-thon with double kick bass drums going into overdrive.
The second half of the album sees a change in style and mood as the fierce riffs are replaced with more melodic but equally powerful and groove driven songs. Fourth track GW is definitely this album’s Pulse with its climbing and soaring structure leaving you wanting more, as at less than 4 minutes, this is by far the shortest song on the album. What follows next is the laid back acoustic number Untitled with some nice delay, echo and what sounds like a Theramin put to good use; (even the infamous violin bow and SG combo gets an outing here!). A departure from the rest of the album for sure but it sets up the scene for the climax of the album; the title track itself. The down tuned electric guitar riffage is back in a big way again and for ten minutes you can only sit back and be pulled along as the journey draws to an end. Cascading riffs and chords interspersed with trademark palm muting and acoustic breakdowns; (even the infamous violin bow and SG combo gets an outing here!), leave you feeling triumphant and optimistic as Pelican majestically deliver you to that “other place”.
If Kyuss are the perfect Summer band then Pelican are the perfect Winter/Spring band. Bleak and melancholy at times but as you go with them the experience changes and evolves emerging as something truly beautiful. I cannot rate this album and band highly enough so do your ears a favour and join me in worship at the altar of Pelican by getting Australasia and the Untitled EP from trusty old Amazon because these lot are gonna be big and deservedly so. Long live the mighty Pelican!!!
P.S. Any chance of a UK tour soon?!
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on 22 March 2007
I think though it'd wrong to compare this album to godspeed you black emperor it might also be wrong to class this as an album for metal fans i think this album is a wonderful mix of the two. its still in my opinion the best quality pelican album and i would advise anyone who enjoys sweeping magestic instrumental rock/whatever music to give this a listen.
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on 1 September 2009
Southern Lord sure do like their psychedelic bands. With Boris, Earth and Sunn O))) already on the books, and rising stars such as OM eagerly signing up, bands like Pelican aren't much of a surprise inclusion into the star studded world that is being signed to one of America's major record labels. This record is home to some of the metal industries best known and most loved doom/drone bands. These areas of metal are incredible psychedelic, a world that the reader should become accustomed to reading if they're likely to survive the mammoth world of Southern Lord geniuses at work. According to the additional information, Pelican originally started as a side project to the members' main band, Tusk. However, as the band have developed, the musicians behind the band have seemingly taken it upon themselves to make this their number one outlet of musical projections and thankfully so. Pelican began as a typical Southern Lord band, but have evolved into something extraordinary that cannot simply be contemplated by use of reading. The sound of this American band will often contain connotations to clichéd ideas.

Lexical fields will be something anyone who addresses the sound of Pelican will have to become accustomed to, just like we would have to when entering into the world of any established band who deal with purely instrumental based music and genres such as doom, drone and sludge are part of the history of said band. These genres are often described as; astral, cosmic, psychedelic, reflective, relaxing and even brutal given the fact that a lot of drone inspired bands can be very minimalistic and contain lengthy songs. Just so you know, despite the clichéd nature of these adjectives and the respective connotations, these words are apt and definitely describe the music of such bands, influenced by the aforementioned genres, applicably. Whilst most people should be accustomed to doom metal, areas like drone, post-hardcore, post-rock and sludge won't be to everyone's liking. In fact, I can see some of these genres having an adverse affect on some. Considering Pelican are supposedly influenced by the likes of Cult of Luna, Red Sparowes and the monolithic drone inspired Jesu, Pelican are bound to be considered an interesting listen regardless of what they provide in the end.

Sure enough, that is precisely what they are - an interesting conception with a few niggling problems (the production has a habit of sounding a bit flat, but still, it doesn't intrude on the beauty which is often overwhelming) but, overall, `Australasia' is a stunning depiction of a truly beautiful region of the world and the many different forms it comes in. Personally, I don't hear as much doom or drone in this record as is described by the genre description. As I've never heard the debut self-titled EP, I cannot comment on the beginnings of this band and whether that EP consisted of music that is influenced by those two epic genres, but I certainly do assume so. This debut full-length is an intricate and intriguing piece that delves into areas of music that don't particularly relate to metal, or metal fans well. Post-rock, for instance, is seemingly an influence behind this beautiful record with its many well thought out themes including, what sounds like to me, nature, divinity, spirituality and nostalgia. As a fan of post-rock myself, though only a few exquisite bands exist out of the hundreds that have been involved in the influx towards the genre, I am able to make the switch from metal to non-metal without much fuss.

So I warn those of you who're not particularly fond of atmospheric sludge, or post-rock, that you had best steer clear of this beautiful beast because it does not cater well to the fans of extreme repetitive drones, or haunting doom metal. As I trace back to my roots in post-rock, surprisingly, I find that Pelican were one of the very first post-rock influenced bands that I liked from the genre. Although I do not consider Pelican to be entirely positioned with one genre, given their extremely expansive style, the band are still firmly rooted in the top 10 of my favourite post-rock bands, or even in my favourite atmospheric sludge bands. Unfortunately for the reviewer, genres such as post-rock, post-hardcore and even atmospheric sludge are incredibly difficult to describe, or even trace the roots back to certain bands that influenced the style - a subject that is bound to cause arguments and controversy. Although we already know the influence behind this record, it is still plain to see that Pelican are more than just a band who have been influenced by some of the best musicians in their associated fields. This American band are far too smart for just a "clone" tag and far too experimental just to harp on about where the sound was derived from. The opening song, which happens to be my favourite on the record, `Nightendday', is the perfect example of how Pelican intermingle their subtle influences.

Which, might I add, also includes the best of the best in Isis and Neurosis - into their own colossal sound which includes slow guitar leads, faster tempos with a fantastic array of percussionist elements and a contrasting euphoric guitar style that intoxicates and then everything else that is in between. This multi-functional record is one that reaches into our minds and pulls out our imagination, taking it on a journey through the extensive landscapes of lands like Australia, with its tropics, deserts and forests that warms our hearts, along with our imaginations. With interspersed electric-acoustic passages that slowly draws out a feeling of overwhelming bliss and happiness despite the huge production that does include some referenced back to the drone style, Pelican accommodate a lot of experimentation into a style that is usually dominated by repetition and monotony. As songs like `Nightendday' suggest, Pelican can afford to deviate where others do not because they're extremely capable and talented at providing punchy percussion passages alongside warm guitars and still manage fine with a vocalist to draw the attention away from the mighty and monstrous sound. As this includes influences from sludge, I must say I'm pleased with the lack of vocals. Sludge vocalists have a habit of ruining everything and that cannot be the case here, obviously. Monumental.
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on 24 October 2008
There's not much else to say about this wonderous beast.
It strides forward slothfully, squints at you and then when it's massive bone-toothed hoof crashes down next, it bursts into a shower of heavy molten hot droplets until the whole beast dissolves infront of your very eyes.

Incomprehensibly pretentious?
Maybe: a review like this is about as useful as any other.

Buy this, cheap, stick on an mp3player with decent bass and go watch something soul-crushingly enormous and ever changing
(I say the Sea or Clouds..)

Rhythmic, Monotonous, Crushing.. but spaceous and vast.
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on 24 March 2005
I felt I had to enter a review here, as I was shocked to see that whoever gave it 1 out of 5 has pulled its otherwise flawless rating down. If you only like godspeed you! or "lighter post-rock" then perhaps you'll dislike this. But it shouldn't be classified along with those bands. It downtuned riff-heavy metal. But in a slow, buildy crescendo type way. If you like heavy music and you like experimental post-rock buildy music you will almost certainly love this album. You will also probably own it already. If you are interested in either sort of music and approach pelican with an open mind you'll probably enjoy it. Although be warned: it is heavier than Michelle McManus riding a hippo through a lead factory at parts. Which is top brillzo.
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on 16 September 2004
This is a behemoth. I'm sure that word has been used to describe it before, but nothing can do justice to how enormous and crushing this music is. There's not a moment of causticity, simply jaw-dropping low end masterwork. Riffs are repeated and then expanded upon, combined, and used to create a hair-raising crescendo that will leave you shivering. The structuring on the longer (and better) songs is distinctly classical in nature. These guys can write a tune. The lack of vocals is the perfect choice - this is PERFECT as it is. For fans of... Isis, "Pretty Soon..." by Norma Jean, Neurosis, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, most other Hydrahead releases and minimalist composers in the vain of Steve Reich, Philip Glass et al. A work of art.
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on 2 November 2004
This is one of the worst albums I've heard in a long time. To even mention it in the same breath of God Speed You Black Emperor, as another reviewer does, is an injustice to the latter.
I was expecting big things from the reviews it had been given yet when I played the CD I was appalled. The guitar sounds like it has been plugged into industrail drill, just a dull drone and this is a constant sound. Every song sounds the same, and so I duly sent it back.
Its a shame, because last time I bought something from Amazon (The Album Leaf) I'd never heard anything by them before, and the reviews were spot on and I was bowled over by how good ther were.
To fans of post rock, steer clear of Pelican and focus your efforts on superior bands such as God Speed, Silver Mt Zion, Explosions in the Sky and Do Make Say Think.
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VINE VOICEon 12 February 2008
Pelican's career is an interesting one for me. Being both a fan of post-rock and sludge/stoner metal (call it what you will), they often hit the spot perfectly. Their debut EP quenched my unabashed desires for monumental heaviness, sounding reminiscent of the most thunderous Isis or Neurosis climax, and the two latest releases ("The Fire In Our Throat..." and "City Of Echoes") are more geared towards the post-rock fan in me. Ultimately, I like these albums for different reasons. "Australasia", on the other hand, manages to combine these aforementioned qualities rather splendidly. It can whisk me up into ethereal places with its progressive post-rock styling, but equally, it can take my face off with outrageously powerful grooves.

Opener "Nightendday" is a perfect example of this. The song showcases airy, gentle, almost ambient moments - then there are typically Pelican melodic chord progressions - and then it is all shattered down with huge monolithic doom riffs. Perfect. And the rest of the album tends to follow suit. There is the utter groove-based sludge metal throughout "Drought" (quite possibly Pelican's most brutal and endearing piece to date) contrasting to the beautiful melodic strumming of "Angel Tears" and the serene acoustic untitled piece. The band really balances the album, giving just enough moments of splendid tranquillity to combat the monolithic heaviness. It is for this reason that I feel "Australasia" is Pelican's finest album to date. It manages to combine all the other standout elements of other releases, making it their most interesting and varied release. Fans of bands such as Isis, Neurosis, Mogwai, Red Sparrowes, Old Man Gloom etc will enjoy this.
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