After four years of silence, instrumental metal standard bearers Pelican have come thundering back, with Forever Becoming, an eight-song album destined to be considered one of the most punishingly rewarding albums of the year. Before their hiatus, the group had laid a sizeable chunk of the groundwork for the instrumental metal scene that’s come into its own in the 13 years since they started playing together. After 2009 the band found itself slightly adrift, and found the day to day struggle of being full-time underground musicians colliding with new families and non-musical careers. Wisely, they didn’t make any rash decisions, and as suits a band known for making dense, meditative sounds they simply patiently figured out how to move past their obstacles. This reborn Pelican is purer, more focused, and far more assured. Recorded at Electrical Audio in Chicago with engineer Chris Common, and featuring The Swan King guitarist Dallas Thomas (replacing the amicably departed Laurent Schroeder-Lebec) Forever Becoming is an immense, speaker-rattling meditation on the infinite cycle of death and life. It takes a lot of experience and a lot of confidence to attempt a head-on ascent of the biggest, most monolithic theme in art, but Forever Becoming is proof that Pelican has plenty of both, and knows how to wield them.