Pelican is one of my favorite bands of all time. In fact, my long and torrid love affair with heavy instrumental rock began with this band. I was listening to ISIS, whose lead singer is also one of the owners of the Hydra Head label which Pelican was on (until they made the switch to Southern Lord).
Earlier Pelican leans toward long song structures that focus on building up to heavy driving metal riffs. In a musical genre where it’s difficult to get to know the names of songs, I know every Pelican song by sound. I would recommend their early stuff, although their most recent album is okay. They’ve become stricter with themselves, it seems, and have moved away from their meandering sound that slowly evolved around itself into something more complex and entirely different than how it started. Now there is less change, less to be excited about.
The first two Pelican albums (Australasiain 2003, The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw in 2005) are pure fucking genius. If you find the drumming off-putting at first, I definitely wouldn’t classify it as metal drumming, give it a chance. Don’t ignore City of Echoeseither (a more recent release, but still before the change of label); there are some dynamite tracks on there too.
“March into the Sea” from The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw
“Lost in the Headlights” from City of Echoes