The Angry Scotsman
It generally seems to be that this album is not too well liked by Pelican fans, or that "It's OK but just not that great". Well to each their own but I love "City of Echoes" and it is actually my favorite Pelican album so far.
It has every staple of Pelican's sound: very heavy, dense and intricate guitar work, progressive song writing with awesome riffs and melodies. In fact it was the band's higher emphasis on riffing that always made them stand out to me from most other post metal bands. As well as their less reflective, (even brooding) more upbeat nature.
While all that is still present, "City of Echoes" is more streamlined than past work. The longest song is 7 minutes, with four of the eight clocking in the 5 minute range. While some die hards may automatically dislike this, I always love to see a band and change it up and see nothing wrong with more to the point, (dare I say....accessible) songs.
Don't worry, this is no pop album, the songs still move...but instead of drifting to the end of the river, it flows with more force. Maybe the climaxes and finales are not as mind blowing, but the songs may be more powerful, more energetic. Basically, it's all the good of Pelican but a little easier, a little more rockin. I'm OK with that.
This is all backed up by the drumming, which is a bit more up tempo and diverse than before. It gives a different touch to the music, some feeling, (always nice to sound human and not like a machine right?) and intensity. There's even some pretty quick double bass at times! It's still pretty straightforward, but better and as the band themselves have said, they are not trying to be Don Caballero here.
Of course the album is still guitar driven, and the riffs and melodies are the best yet. As always the dual guitar work is just awesome. Working in unison, as lead/rhythm, or diving in and out of each other. It's so well done. De Brauw and Schroeder-Lebec are guitar wizards.
There's also an increased emphasis on bass, taking a prominent role as another instrument instead of just bottom filler. I think it always gives the music a more textured sound.
The songwriting is great, perfect flow and progression. It's not always heavy either, dipping in the clean pool a good bit. Most importantly: great variation. Not just in song, but every song has a bit of a different feel to it. It's difficult to pick standout songs since they are all great, but the acoustic "Winds with Hands" is a good change of pace and "Lost in the Headlights" is my favorite. The most energetic on the album it also best does a little of everything said in the review above.
Amazing album, maybe some Pelican or post-metal fans will not care for it's less epic nature, but cmon a little different won't kill ya! An awesome listen, and should be enjoyable for any fan of progressive metal. It's even gotten enjoyment from non metal heads! If you can take some heavy guitar, I recommend "City of Echoes" regardless of what you like. It's also instrumental so don't worry about unpleasant vocals.