Pelican, Inter Arma, Pontiak
Kapu4020 Linz, Kapuzinerstraße 36
It’s been a long journey for Pelican—from their sludgy reductionist beginnings in the DIY spaces of Chicago, through their tenure as forerunners to the burgeoning international community of artists fusing post-rock’s dramatic melodicism with thinking man’s metal, and to their ascension into the canon of the elder statesmen in the brainy and brawny realm of the underground rock world. The band encountered no shortage of ups and downs along the way, and those peaks and valleys often found an analog in the moods and timbres of Pelican’s sonic palette, with youthful frustrations channeled into the unrepentant dirges of their self-titled debut or new opportunities afforded by their increasing popularity manifested in the expanded vistas of City of Echoes. In the process of writing their sixth album Nighttime Stories, the quartet endured a slew of realizations, tragedies, and glimmers of optimism that guided the creative process to the most potent album of their eighteen-year career.
“‘Middle finger’ might be the best way to describe some of it.”
That’s Inter Arma vocalist Mike Paparo talking about the band’s new album, Sulphur English. “It’s definitely a fuck-you to people,” he adds. “I wish it was more eloquent than that, but it’s not.”
After 13 years and three full-lengths, these Richmond, VA-based extremity artists are throwing down the proverbial gauntlet with their fourth. Though the band has never really fit into any of underground metal’s ever-splintering subgenres, they’ve
often been lumped into the “sludge” or “doom” factions—largely by folks who haven’t been paying attention. “We do share qualities with those types of bands, but we’re not that,” Paparo points out. “We’ll get to a lot of cities and the promoter will be like, ‘Oh, here’s our local talent, Doomfuck. They’re playing with you guys tonight.’ But we all hate that.’”