2019 has been a pretty intense year for the post- universe, from Russian Circles to Cult Of Luna, including several emerging acts such as Juseph and Ogmasun. And yet, perhaps the most anticipated piece of news for people attracted by this multifaceted current was the return of the legendary Pelican six years after Forever Becoming, the album that saw the official entrance of guitarist Dallas Thomas after Laurent Schroeder-Lebec had left the band. From that moment, two events in particular have marked the human experience of the band members: the passings of Thomas’ father, and that of Jody Minnoch, vocalist for the hardcore band Tusk, in which both Trevor de Brauw and Larry Herweg used to play.
In Nighttime Stories, Pelican tried to put into music loss and the reflections connected to it, paying homage to their friend in the choice of the titles of the album and several songs. The dark artwork was created by Aaron Turner, who had already collaborated with the band back in their Hydra Head Records days: a deep night in which a flux of thoughts flows around, enveloping the booklet and disc, once again featuring the photos by Andrew Weiss.
The opener “WST” is specifically dedicated to William Stanley Thomas (the guitarist’s father), a short dusky track working as a preface, as a frame for the theme of the music to come, written in a different style. Yes, because starting from “Midnight And Mescaline”, Pelican rush head first into that instrumental hardcore-metal vortex that has become their trademark sound in about twenty years of career, with their minds and hearts to the works and life of Minnoch. The monumental and geological sonic weight characterizing the band since such masterpieces as Australasia and The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw comes back frequently and strongly (“Cold Hope” is a great example), but in this record we are dealing with a less planetary and more intimate version of the band, in the hardcore meaning of this term.
Nighttime Stories is indeed a stratified work, revealing itself in ever more complexity with each listen, as its songs evolve and transform just like thoughts and reflections. The music goes from riffs as thick as mountains to moments of seeming quiet in which you can almost observe light ripples on water, an alchemy that probably reaches its peak right in the closing track “Full Moon, Black Water”. Pelican are back with an album that strongly confirmed their place among the most influential acts in the post- universe, exactly at the crossroads between its hardcore and metal currents.