City of Echoes

( 2 )

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
The nearly rabid critical acclaim that followed Pelican's debut full-length, Australasia, in 2003 and the sludge and blast of 2005's The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw (both on Aaron Turner's Hydra Head imprint) has been both blessing and curse for the band upon the release of 2007's City of Echoes. In other words, there is a tension surrounding the album's release that creates a make-or-break situation among fans and critics. While the recordings have some similar traits -- they are the same band, after all -- City of Echoes moves off the dock into sonic waters they've not entered before. Playing a guitar-saturated brand of extreme music is fraught with obstacles ...
See more details below
This CD is Not Available through BN.com

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
The nearly rabid critical acclaim that followed Pelican's debut full-length, Australasia, in 2003 and the sludge and blast of 2005's The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw (both on Aaron Turner's Hydra Head imprint) has been both blessing and curse for the band upon the release of 2007's City of Echoes. In other words, there is a tension surrounding the album's release that creates a make-or-break situation among fans and critics. While the recordings have some similar traits -- they are the same band, after all -- City of Echoes moves off the dock into sonic waters they've not entered before. Playing a guitar-saturated brand of extreme music is fraught with obstacles at this juncture -- especially after the nearly incessant touring that followed Fire and exposed them to so many people who had never heard them before and ratcheted up the underground culture's level of desire for something bigger and better. Pelican have done the only things they could do under these circumstances: shut the door on the outside world, take a rest, and figure out new ways of writing -- they pull out the stops by using craft and restraint to write actual "songs." It's a left turn, admittedly, but ultimately one that works. For starters, the tunes are shorter than on previous offerings -- the longest thing here is the title cut, which is just a shade over seven minutes. The band's rhythm section has been criticized, particularly drummer Larry Herweg for his thudding, previously metronomic style (some who only heard recordings thought Pelican used a drum machine -- ouch!). Here, Herweg is allowed a far greater range of expression, and actually plays against the beat in places, seeming to be out of time, while creating a new space for the guitars to enter in terms of tempo and texture. Elsewhere, the melodies Pelican built into their chugging riff style have been accented to create a more taut sense of dynamics. The title cut begins with a nearly sweet, lithe guitar melody played by Trevor DeBrauw and countered by "rhythm" guitarist Laurent Schroeder-Lebec; when the power switches on at the minute mark, the collision erupts but a different melody counters the riff. These two guitarists play very different things, moving toward each other, almost in counterpoint -- which they actually do elsewhere. Schroeder-Lebec must know the entire history of metal; the riffing he employs is sheer power tempered by glam-metal's sense of lyric and delivery. DeBrauw works his lines in like a knife edge to balance the equation as bassist Bryan Herweg walks the tightrope between. There is movement -- plenty of it, in fact, from loud to soft or vice versa and back again. The one-note piano line that commences "Spaceship Broken -- Parts Needed" is weighted by Bryan's bassline (and he even gets a low drone so distorted, fuzzed-up, and over-amped it feels like punishment) as the guitarists enter with repetitive melodics and subtly reverbed chord figures. The backbeat presence of Larry Herweg's snare and kick drum offers the only clue that something else is about to happen, and it does. It erupts out the very same riff and roils and curdles along fretboards and near blastbeats. The acoustic guitars introduced sparingly on Fire are back, but they have a solid presence here, more than as ephemera. The track "Winds with Hands" forgoes the rhythm section altogether. Both guitarists begin on acoustics, weaving melodic patterns that are trancelike and intricate (think the Jimmy Page intro to "Going to California" and "Over the Hills and Far Away" to get a hint), and gradually evolve into others. They give way as DeBrauw brings a high-pitched electric into the mix somewhere and transforms the cut in its intensity, as volume and lyric melody become the foreground to counter once again. It's beautiful and dark, seductive and forbidding, all at the same time. The sheer bass sludge that kicks off "Dead Between the Walls" is all poison, louder than God. When the guitarists enter, Schroeder-Lebec think he's in Judas Priest (Hell Bent for Leather era), riffing his ass off when DeBrauw drops some evil lead line to counter -- nope, not a solo. It crackles along in a surge until it transforms itself at the midpoint into...one of the best surprises here. The aggression that began on the album's opener, "Bliss in Concrete," continues with the heavy metal riffing that commences "Lost in the Headlights." We are talking heavy-duty late-'70s/early-'80s metal with a Pelican twist. The lead lines are knotty and confounding, so the rhythm section needs to be circular. Schroeder-Lebec is an awesome rhythm guitarist. His sense of time is truly refreshing. The album ends in the most puzzling manner possible with the slowly evolving low-tuned drone of Bryan's bassline and acoustic and electric guitars that shimmer and shape a sparse melody, so gradually and elegantly that it's hard to believe this is the closing tune. It has its moments of power, but the record whispers, rather than blasts, to a close. It may dishearten some fans, but anyone who digs into the bone marrow of City of Echoes will understand that this is a real stepping stone for Pelican. As a band they've refused to take the easy way out or paint themselves into a corner or play to expectations. They've moved forward without losing sight of what makes them unique, and by doing so, they've moved the entire instrumental heavy music genre forward as well. Some underground conservatives may claim "sellout," whatever that means, but Pelican have ensured that they have a new path of exploration open to them -- perhaps several simultaneously. A backlash may occur, but it's critically groundless. The craft and care put into City of Echoes is a breath of fresh air and puts them back into a musically territorial space all their own.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/5/2007
  • Label: Hydrahead Records
  • UPC: 798546231025
  • Catalog Number: 62310

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Pelican Primary Artist
Trevor de Brauw Group Member
Bryan Herweg Group Member
Larry Herweg Group Member
Technical Credits
John Golden Mastering
Andrew Schneider Engineer
A. Turner Artwork, Construction
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews