Pelican Australasia

[Hydra Head; 2003]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: stoner metal, doom metal, instrumental post rock
Others: Isis, Skullflower, Centaur, SunnO))), Hum, Explosions in the Sky

This year appears to be the time my body will make the sudden transformation from young to old. It’s an event I was hoping would hold off for at least another few years, but I’m afraid my hope for a youthful and agile body has come to an end. Putting my clothes on in the morning is increasingly becoming a comedic experience, and I’m just referring to the actual physical ability to do it. Unlike the first thirty years of my life, balancing on one leg to put my pants on has now become something I actually have to concentrate on.

I know you could probably care less about my dressing habits, and you’re more than likely asking yourself what relevance my ability to get dressed in the morning has to with Pelican. Actually, quite a bit, considering the fact that this music is about being young and full of vibrancy. I’ve written a ton of reviews for albums that reminded me of my adolescence, but they’ve all been related to the mental memories I had of that time. Pelican’s new album, Australasia, on the other hand, is about the reminiscence of my physical body, the days of being able to mosh in a pit and bang my head like an idiot.

Pelican, a doom and gloom quartet from Chicago, take great pleasure in celebrating those days with their demonic compositions that only a sludgy guitar in dropped-D tuning can provide -- the type of music that only a young adrenaline-filled boy could truly understand. What makes this album different from other similar doom albums is that Australasia is frighteningly melodic, despite the thick layers of crunchy guitars. It brings to mind the epic qualities of Metallica’s earlier days during Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets, but without lyrics or commercial potential. It even recalls the smoothness of someone like Centaur (who also happens to be from Illinois).

Australasia commences subtly with "Nightendday," which, in the beginning, could easily be labeled as a typical post-rock song, before forging ahead with ten minutes of heavy sludge that lurks behind. "Drought," the succeeding song, delves even further into the pits of doom with guitars so thick and heavy you can practically feel them in your teeth. If you’ve ever known someone who was in to death metal, this is the album that would epitomize their idea of what music should sound like.

Australasia can ultimately be summed up by the song "Drought." Like most of the album, "Drought" clocks in at a lengthy eight minutes (some are even longer), which is admittedly quite a bit of time to listen to music this decadent. However, the beauty here is that while it may be a lot to listen to at times, the album goes by pretty quick and fulfills everything it needs to. The thing that seems to be missing, however, is a sense of visual elements. Australasia has been put together very well, and as I said, is incredible for what it is. My only hope was that it would have saved some room for various cinematic sounds to push it to an even darker, albeit evil, universe. Perhaps next time?

1. Nightendday
2. Drought
3. Angel Tears
4. GW
5. Untitled
6. Australasia