Instrumental metal act Pelican have released a new track to tease their up coming EP Atraxia/Teraxis, due out April 10 on Southern Lord records. This new track, titled “Lathe Biosas,” continues the band’s slugde/post-metal sound, but in comparison to 2009’s What We All Come to Need, it’s lacking in one key area.
Instrumental metal music has always been a rather complex a difficult style for me to describe, let alone review. It’s full of texture, each song has many moving parts, and every note played skillfully and thoughtfully. For me, music in the genre is defined by three things: skill, song writing, and production
Now, of course all music is judged by those things, but it becomes doubly important when dealing with an instrumental band, especially ones that eschew traditional songwriting techniques like Pelican does.
My biggest (and really only) complaint about this song is the production. Pelican, for me, have always been defined by their massive, meaty sound. Their guitars hum and fuzz throughout their music, and every time they rip through a sludge-caked riff, your skull rattles. But on “Lathe Biosas” it’s surprisingly mid0range and flimsy. There’s still more fuzzy low-end than your average rock or metal band, but when compared to their past efforts it seems almost wimpy in comparison. It doesn’t break the song by any means, but I feel like it’s being held back by the production choices.
When it comes to skill however, Pelican certainly deliver. Every member plays well, and feels like an equal part of a whole. On “Lathe Biosas” Pelican don’t really do anything too out of the ordinary, or push the musicianship much. That’s not saying much, they can still play their instruments and every moment of the track shows it, but there’s no “wow” moment. Admittedly, Pelican aren’t exactly know for that anyway. Still, it’s a worthy performance by the band.
In terms of songwriting, these guys definitely know what they’re doing. This is by far their strongest point as a band, as well as the track’s best attribute as well. The band’s brooding post-metal moments are punctuated by heavy stoner riffs that make your head bob. Each riff and chord fit together, and despite the song’s highly progressive structure, there are common threads the band follow throughout, such as the opening melody or tremelo picked passages that seem to wind throughout the song. When it comes to the music, it’s a well-written tune that, despite not having much to hold onto after it’s done, at least it offers a decent ride. I just hope the track works better in the context of the albums, and that hopefully the production on the other tracks adds a bit more oomph.
Decide for yourself, give the track a listen here.