The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw
I still have a Tool shirt. I bought it at the conclusion of my admiration for—well, allegiance to—the band. I never wear it out though. It speaks of an easily beguiled mind, believing Keenan’s pipes and Carey’s kick drums heavenly, and a haughty temperament: wearing a Tool shirt is effectively saying, “my music is better than yours.” The major problem, however, was that Metal was such a moribund genre, so bound by shiftless shits, that anyone who elevated themselves beyond blunt emotion was brilliant. In essence Tool’s music was better than the bulk of Metal out there, but that doesn’t mean it was very good overall.
So you get people who keep arguing the brilliance of Frances The Mute, telling you that low ratings are from those who simply “don’t get it.” Ok, but neither do they. What I do get is that the album was an hour of unintelligible wailing, reverb, and so much masturbatory wah wah soloing that I’m still getting the cock rock jizz out of my ears. The same fanfaronade has been offered to Pelican’s latest, ‘The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw.’ Already I can hear the Tool message boards abuzz with rumors of three colossal Metal worlds colliding, the teenagers stroking their cocks to the thought of a Pelican-Tool-King Crimson three-way.
Alright, first stop with the appellation fantasy. I’ve heard “Instru-Metal,” “Post-Metal,” “Orchestral Metal” and numerous other variations of saying, “Metal without the Vox.” What you’re listening to is neither new (uhh … The Fucking Champs anyone?) nor perfected. Second, merely because it’s a Metal album doesn’t mean you should sully it with the presumptuous bullshit. Pelican essay to be a good band, not just find a spot on the shelf between your hookah and your collection of Bill Hicks memorabilia. The only true measure of this album’s worth is through the sobering lens of all genres, not a single one.
‘Australasia,’ the band’s first album, was an apt title, combining viscose, thunderous chords with some accelerated bursts to create a work of slow, forceful, and oftentimes violent burns. It did sound like the aggressive fusion of two continents, their terrains breaking away old, earthy structures to create new striations. Their latest album still utilizes some of that energy, but there is a new cleanliness to it and a great dynamism. It’s one that recounts the balance of post-rock groups like Explosions in The Sky and The Swords Project.
I previously spoke of the difficulty in separating post-rock projects because of their sounds, much less the individual projects of a particular post-rock unit. But this problem was alleviated through a more explicit elucidation of the album’s frame. It’s never so conspicuous that you feel that the album was made as an afterthought, but neither is it so ambiguous that it becomes the artist’s pet project. The thaw that Pelican seek to describe isn’t just some placid icicle giving way to Spring, but the crash of a dark winter where whole chunks of icebergs break into the sea, torn from some icy hand. Indeed, the project’s enormity is what’s admirable, painting an image of an entire world in mutation, not just two continents.
The acoustic touches to this album, though repeatedly exaggerated by everyone, do produce some interesting harmonic breaks. The transitions from song to song are more obvious either by an oncoming acoustic guitar or some tempered and treated instruments (the ending of “Last Day of Winter”) but never hackneyed. The album titles themselves denote a pace and mood, “March Into The Sea’s” swirling bridges perhaps the most moving on the entire album while the untitled fourth track—an acoustic number—effectively being the album’s thematic caesura.
‘The Fire In Our Throats’ works best because of its relative brevity. At under an hour it doesn’t compare to some of the more exaggerated works from Godspeed, but that’s because they understood how quickly their theme could expire. They greatly maximized its impact by not overstressing or overstretching, instead letting it come to a satisfying and complete cessation. The playing never devolves to exercise and the players don’t lose sight of the objective. There’s no sludge or fodder throughout, just a finely tuned opus.
Release date: July 26, 2005
Rating: 8.0 / 10
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