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Every Pelican Album Ranked Worst to Best

Flying in from Chicago, Illinois, Pelican are best known for their celestial, dark vibes and heavy, doomy instrumental soundscapes with riffs fit for kings. Unlike many of their doomy counterparts, Pelican never saw the need for a vocalist, and the band is all the richer for it, since their sound is so dreamy it would only suffer from a stuck-up, egomaniac singer. The band was part of the first wave of bands from Hydra Head Records in the late ‘90s and early 2000s who mixed the heavy, crushing sounds of Black Sabbath and other metal acts with quiet, ethereal sounds of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and MONO, creating something truly different from most of your “BRUTAL” metal of the day, paving the way for future prog minded metal musicians who aren’t afraid of their feelings (now that’s Brutal!). A band of this caliber must be ranked, so here is the definitive ranking of Pelican albums from worst to best. Even though it should probably be “least best to best.”

6. Australasia (2003)

Pelican’s debut album is pretty rad, and there are no bad Pelican albums. But this sounded a lot like four guys jamming in a room while screwing around with a variety of effects pedals, trying to figure out their sound, and it’s a little drawn out and long, compared to later releases. But everything that makes the band great is there, even if it did require some tweaking of the formula to get right, it was already a potent brew ready for those who were brave enough to drink that sweet Post-Metal Kool Aid.

Play It Again: “Drought”
Skip It: “Untitled”

5. Forever Becoming (2013)

With the addition of guitarist Dallas Thomas, Pelican proved that they were indeed “Forever Becoming”. What were they becoming exactly? One of the defining and ever changing heavy acts of our time, capable of cranking out music that’s both dreamy and deadly, a dangerous combination for your ear bones. While many bands would have a mid-life crisis after losing founding members, the only crisis Pelican gave us was an existential crisis, thinking about what exactly we could become over the course of forever with this kickass album.

Play It Again: “Immutable Dusk”
Skip It: “The Cliff”

4. What We All Come To Need (2009)

What is it that we have come to need exactly? Pelican decided that they had come to need a leaner, more concise sound, and on this album, they stripped away many of the longer, more intricate passages and replaced them with shorter, punchier songwriting. Nothing wrong with that, in fact, this album is arguably their most accessible. This was also their last album until the 2020s with original guitarist Laurent Schroeder-Leblanc, who stepped back from the band in 2012 to spend more time with his family, and we can’t blame him, since the world was supposed to end in 2012.

Play It Again: “The Creeper”
Skip It: “What We All Come to Need”

3. Nighttime Stories (2019)

This album title is what the genre of Post-Metal should have been called, since it’s so easy to doze off to those dreamy instrumentals after a long day of suffering under late-stage capitalism. Their final album with axeman Dallas Thomas before the return of Laurent Schroeder-Leblanc, and he sings off in kickass form, and he is truly missed for the aggressive edge that he gave later era Pelican, perfectly complimenting longtime axeman Trevor Shelly de Brau. Maybe one day he could possibly return to Pelican, forming the greatest three-guitar lineup ever to grace the metal world, but until then, this album marks the end of an understated era of Pelican.

Play It Again: “WST” into “Midnight and Mescaline”
Skip It: “Full Moon, Black Water” (still sick though)

Honorable Mention: Arktika (2014)

A snapshot of a band giving their all on stage, this is the Pelican live experience for those without deep Ticketmaster pockets. Arguably better than their studio work, this is a band on full display, minus the visuals, but there are always psychedelics for those brave enough to get that full Pelican experience. But visuals aren’t completely necessary, if you just close your eyes, let the music wash over you and get lost in the sound, you are sure to have some closed-eye visuals sober, which will save you some hard-earned money.


2. City of Echoes (2007)

This album wraps around your mind courtesy of the vaguely celestial, possibly otherworldly tendrils present on the album’s cover, and transports you to another dimension, where this “City of Echoes” possibly exists. Such a city would be a nightmare to create for Earthly architects, sound engineers, and city planners, but if it’s anything like this album, it’s gotta be a great place to live, full of celestial, fun adventures, and crushing existential soundscapes. Wait a minute, that’s just life in any mid to large urban center, and in reality, adding extra echo would just contribute to noise pollution, and not in a good way. Great concept regardless.

Play It Again: “City of Echoes”
Skip It: No Skips Going Forward

1. The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw (2005)

The album title refers to the feeling of taking a fat bong rip after a worthwhile tolerance break, the mindset of petrochemical companies contributing to climate change, and the very same feeling you get after listening to this album after a long absence. It’s full of fantastic, trippy sounds, heavy riffing and possibly Pelican at their best instrumentally, with serious props being awarded to the tight rhythm section of Bryan and Larry Herwig. We sing along to all those lyrics every time they play any of these songs live, true Post-Metal chart toppers no stoppers. One of the defining albums of the golden age of Post-Metal, so fire that it could melt gold too.

Play It Again: The Whole Thing
Skip It: No Skips Here