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Pelican: Forever Becoming

Chicago’s instrumental overlords of post-rock return

“A meditation on the acceptance of mortality and its place in the eternal cycle” is never really going to be a LOLocaust, but then anyone familiar with Chicago’s Pelican will already know that the quartet’s visceral combination of post-rock dynamics, doomy ambience and big stoner metal riffs is designed to crush.

If that all sounds a little bleak and occasionally pedestrian, then fear not. On their fifth album in a decade, the quartet invest the likes of the driving Deny The Absolute with real emotion, building and riding a heavy duty musical rollercoaster with surprises at every turn. Pelican are much more to the point these days, too; gone are the endless, slow-building crescendos and in their place there’s now a real sense of thrust to their granite-hard melodies.

That said, the songtitles alone – The Cliff, Immutable Dusk and The Tundra, for example – should tell you that they still deal in elemental, monolithic and sculptural sounds. Alt-rock closer Perpetual Dawn lightens the load slightly but ultimately Forever Becoming is a dark stone obelisk of a record silhouetted against a troubled, lightning-stricken sky. And that, by the way, is a compliment.