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'Australasia', the second full length by curiously named US sludge merchants Pelican, is an interesting exercise in progressive metal that merges the post-rock musings of 'Oceanic' era Isis with the weighty, pounding, wall-of-sound riffs championed by sludge pioneers Neurosis, backing the whole thing up with crunchy, groove-drenched, slowed-down Mastodon riffs.
Most of the songs approach ten minutes in length, and the main theme of the album is momentum, which ebbs and flows throughout, slowing to a crawl and gradually building sludgy riff upon sludgy riff, increasing in tempo before plateauing upon reaching a deep, bass-heavy groove. Elsewhere the sound is more lethargic, coming on in endless, crashing waves to the accompaniment of gentle, transient, searching guitar melodies, whilst other parts give way to semi-acoustic guitars, subtle trombone tones and soothing ambience that smacks of both tranquillity and loneliness.
The album title is wholly apt, as the music creates an atmosphere of vast open spaces; endless deserts; rolling oceans and tectonic plates grinding against one another over the millennea. It's both a relaxing and uplifting album, which, like doom/drone band Earth's seminal 'Hex' album, could so easily be boring but manages to avoid this through subtle musical changes and excellent songwriting. Like Hex, 'Australasia' has a subtle country twang to it too, and despite their different musical styles the two albums occupy a similar headspace in terms of the atmosphere they create. Again, like Hex, there are no vocals whatsoever, further emphasising the sense of remoteness and immense, empty space.
From here Pelican would go on to slowly dilute their sound, gradually losing much of the raw, unrestrained power and momentum that made them so gratifying to listen to, and increasingly threatening to slide into bland, hipster metal territory. 'Australasia' remains a joy to listen to however, and comes highly recommended to anyone with an interest in progressive metal, post-rock or sludge.
1. Nightendday 11:14
2. Drought 08:23
3. Angel Tears 10:59
4. GW 03:34
5. Untitled 05:20
6. Australasia 10:48
Total playing time 50:18
Disc #1 Tracklisting
3 Angel Tears
6 Hidden Bonus Track