Pelican – The Cliff EP Review
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Pelican is a band often lumped in with the “post-metal” genre. One that consists of the earth-shattering Isis, Neurosis, and Jesu, good company indeed. But Pelican has always forged its own way, often going outside of their comfort zones but still keeping their trademark bedrock sound intact, (see the beautiful, atmospheric quiet of Ataraxia/Taraxis). Pelican’s sound is often sans vocals, anthemic yet artful in the same breath. A soundtrack for an expedition into the periphery of the unknown.
The Cliff serves as the bands 6th EP and a stopgap/gift of sorts for the more than average Pelican fan. The record offers three new versions of the title song from their breathtaking 2013 effort Forever Becoming and one original composition.
Pelican has definitely honed its sound over the past 15 years, and has very rarely come close to anything remotely radio-friendly, vs-chorus-vs, rock, until this EP. The first version of “The Cliff” is an experiment. The band has had sparse vocals on records before (see the sardonic “Final Breath” from 2009’s What We All Come to Need) but this version shows what Pelican could be if they offered vocals on the regular. Here the Life and Times vocalist Allen Epley offers lyrics of moaning, betrayal giving the song a complete, and not unflattering, augmentation. I like to think its better than the original, but I might be crucified by die-hards. If Pelican were this type of band, I don’t think it would be that bad…..
Justin Broaderick, of Jesu and Godflesh fame, remixes the original as only he could. The remix gives the song an eerie gothic sex-scene, industrial turn, skittering along a stripped down version, not too far off from his respected bands.
The last version is remixed by Isis/Palms collaborators Aaron Harris and Bryant Clifford Meyer who pump up the drums with intense samples, coupled with the back and forth, ominous chants of Epley’s vocals. This is by far my favorite version of this song as it has distinct Isis imitations, a band I thoroughly miss.
The unassuming final song “The Wait” is almost added as an offering, a welcome back to the original sound of Pelican, the experiment over, onward they March into the Sea.
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