Pelican - Ataraxia/Taraxis [EP]
Record Label: Southern Lord
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Pelican need little introduction. For almost a decade the Chicago quintet have been releasing a consistent stream of inventive sludge metal meets post-rock soundscapes. Their newest release, Ataraxia/Taraxis, follows their 2009 record and Southern Lord debut What We All Come to Need and expands upon the foundation laid by that album nicely. Though there's not much here in the way of surprises, the band still sounds fresh and innovative as ever, opting not to mend what isn't broken. The title track is a sparse and moody introduction to the album that takes the "less is more" route by employing minimal instrumentation and repetitive phrasing to establish an almost hypnotic atmosphere before segueing into "Lathe Biosas". Combining a sludge metal aesthetic with spacey passages and melodic guitar leads the song is a stark contrast to its predecessor but the flow between the two songs is so natural that it doesn't matter.
"Parasite Colony" is a slow-burner that draws more from doom than sludge and calls to mind the likes of Isis or Cult of Luna. The lingering sense of danger inherent in the track is highlighted by ringing minor chords and grimy low-end heaviness where ten-ton riffs contribute to the eerie textures of the song. Closing on "Taraxis" the EP brings things full circle by returning to the more laid-back feel of its opening cut. The acoustic guitar foundations of the song support the vaguely discordant lead guitar lines that wander in and out of the mid-tempo drive of the song. Midway through the band shifts gears and descend into a moment of minimalist reprise before echoing the grimy sludge riffs of the previous two tracks and ending on a swirling cloud of crunching riffs and buzzing distortion; all of which stops on a dime thus concluding the EP. At only seventeen minutes, Ataraxia/Taraxis is a brief affair, but one that is sure to leave you hungry for more.