album reviews

What We All Come To Need
Southern Lord (2009)

Kindred spirits: Slint, Earth, Dead Meadow, Godspeed You Black Emperor!

This Los Angeles-by-way-of-Chicago quartet is one of a growing army of stoner metal bands creating sounds that are dense and heavy but do not bear the speed and urgency of more traditional metal outfits such as Metallica or Black Sabbath.

Despite a primarily instrumental sound on its fourth full-length studio album, "What We All Come to Need," these songs are full of memorable riffs and melodies. On the last half of "Strung Up From the Sky," a guitar line soars above the sludgy growl of the otherwise bass-driven song.

As entrancing as the group's extended jams are, the album shines with the addition of guest musicians from other, similar bands. The additional guitar work from Isis's Aaron Turner gives the title track a heavy anguish that shimmers during the song's climaxes. Most striking, though, is "The Creeper," whose third guitar line is provided by Greg Anderson of Sunn O))). The song is reminiscent of his band's intense drones, but it also incorporates the melodic, rolling riffs at which Pelican excels. It's just unfortunate that they couldn't build on their own, established sound without enlisting outside help.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 4 December 2009
.: What We All Come To Need on