Pelican / These Arms Are Snakes / An Emergency

  • London
  • United Kingdom
  • Islington Academy
  • 2007-04-19

Opening were An Emergency, who formed several years ago out of the ashes of Exeter’s finest post-rock/post-hardcore hybrid Tyler. Dual lead vocals and guitars came from the ex-Tyler boys forming the outfield arrangements, with drums as the sole rhythm section making up the remainder of the band. Whereas Tyler wore their influences on their sleeve but came together as more than the sum of their parts and always performed so tightly aqnd perfectly, apart from the fact that An Emergency’s slight direction change may not be quite so appealing to some anyway, there were messy edges and the music doesn’t end up standing out as much from it’s origins. Having said that, the performance was strong and they generally managed to hold the attention of the large crowd for the duration of their set (excepting the between song banter — though they tried their best). The songs though just didn’t offer either the same emotive and emphatic engaging ability or the complexity and interest that you got from Tyler’s music, An Emergency offer comparatively indie songs, though peppered with quirk and some great math mini-explosions — a distinctly Mars Volta-sounding inflection — but unfortunately without enough of this to keep it as interesting throughout.

These Arms Are Snakes powered through their set with a healthy confidence and large stage-presence, with the lead-singer pulling his post-harcore Jarvis Cocker shapes at every possible opportunity available: all the time (skipping around, throwing the mic from one hand to the other, jumping towards and in and on the crowd, lifting his shirt up and limp-wristedly touching himself etc etc). The band were tight, with their riff-heavy emo-tinged rock capturing the crowd and picking up the mood a distinctive few notches. The music isn’t always quite there with the noise though — although there are some great chunky riffs to be found, the vocalist is strong (although slightly grating with his gyrating after a while) and the overall package seems well-constructed, frequently the music just verges on average.

fans of the earlier metal/noise side could perhaps warm to the material more easily than with its cleaner recorded sound

Pelican have made a trajectory which is appealing to some but not quite so for others. Starting out as a deep, brooding, sludge-strewn instro-metal band the first EP and debut full-length Australasia delivered a fascinating and exiting array of progressive doom riffs and booming post-metal breakdowns. The follow-up The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw took the same recent move as fellows and influences Neurosis and Isis and developed the dynamic aspect more without disregarding the heavy but focusing more than previously on the post-rock-esque soundscapes and builds. More recently the newest addition to the Pelican ouevre City of Echoes delivered further progression, now siting the band within indie/math/post-rock territory with not just less heavy but more accessible melodies/progressions and with the general track length down these are more like songs — the doom has near left the building…

Tonight’s show favoured neither fans of predominantly old or new, however, as the band played a mix of both ends of their spectrum — and due to the general muddying of the live-production, which is surely expected by newer fans to impact the songs anyway, fans of the earlier metal/noise side could perhaps warm to the material more easily than with its cleaner recorded sound. The highlight though was definitely in Australisia’s “Drought”, who’s development from sludge to riff to noise to break/build could engage everyone in its emphatic performace. The unfortunate lowpoint was the encore though, which saw the whole of These Arms Are Snakes come out to play a dual-band onslaught of “March Into The Sea”, for which onslaught should read in a negative way as opposed to the normal positive doom/metal sense. The inabilty for the TAAS drummer to play along to Larry Herveg’s simple pattern (after having made all that efffort bringing out and setting up a kit…) added to the general chugging-mash mess, a shame as the song could have been a high-point but was actually a bit more comedy than anything else. Ah well.

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