Pelican Getting Sick Of Weezer Comparisons, Plus Opeth, Nile & More News That Rules In Metal File

Opeth lose longtime guitarist; Nile line up new song 'Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve Its Possessor.'

Fans who have followed Chicago instrumental post-metal band Pelican through their curvy and meandering atmospheric explorations will probably be pretty surprised by the sound of their new album, City of Echoes, out June 5. And they're not alone.

"I had no idea where we were going with the music when we started doing these songs," guitarist Laurent Lebec said. "The changes were pretty subconscious at first, then looking back we realized what was happening and we just went with it."

That doesn't mean City of Echoes is so radically different that it sounds like Disturbed, but Pelican have definitely strayed from the droning, spacey jams of past and focused more intently on concrete — yet still mercurial — metal riffs.

"We definitely wanted to write shorter songs that got to the point a little quicker dynamically and pleased us as a live band as opposed to what we were before this record, which was a band that toured rarely and indulged itself in the studio," Lebec said. "When we were touring for our last album, The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw, even if we had a 75-minute-long set, we could only play five songs because they were all so long, and that can be tiring for an audience."

Some crowds have been more forgiving than others. While many open-minded metal fans have enjoyed Pelican's spacious netherworld of noise, the band has received some flack while opening for several more decidedly metallic bands. Surprisingly, one of the worst reactions Pelican have received came in San Francisco when they were performing with Opeth.

"We started playing, and right away some people started yelling, 'f--' at us," Lebec said. "Then someone else shouted, 'You guys look like Weezer.' I couldn't believe it. These guys were coming to see Opeth, this really progressive band, yet they were still locked in such rudimentary middle-school kind of nonsense attitudes."

Another reason for Pelican's metallic migration has to do with a desire to expand beyond the hazy parameters of the current ambient-metal scene. Over time, they've grown all too aware that the kind of music they used to play — which seemed innovative a couple years ago — has become a little stagnant as more and more post-rock and indie bands search for louder avenues of expression. Fortunately, Pelican have the chops to pull off the stylistic shift.

"We've all grown up in punk and death-metal scenes," Lebec said. "We've been in grind bands, thrash bands, you name it. And our drummer [Larry Herweg] plays in Lair of the Minotaur, which is a total Swedish metal band. So doing songs that were more to the point and maybe a little heavier didn't seem like that huge of a stretch."

Of course, that doesn't mean that Pelican will necessarily score more points with metal fans. Their music is still largely progressive and filmic and it lacks mosh parts and solos. At the same time, the band's evolution in a heavier direction could alienate alternative rockers attracted to Pelican's more diaphanous, melancholy passages. But such possibilities are beyond the band's control and, therefore, of little concern.

"We've clearly always made music without aspirations of maintaining some huge level of success," Lebec said. "I don't know that we could ever write this kind of music if we were doing it for anybody else but ourselves."

The rest of the week's metal news:

After spending 16 years in one of the best metal bands ever, guitarist Peter Lindgren has decided he's done with Opeth. Calling the decision one of the "toughest I've ever made," Lindgren said in a statement that he feels it's the right one for him at this stage in his life. "I feel that I simply have lost some of the enthusiasm and inspiration needed to participate in a band that has grown from a few guys playing the music we love to a worldwide industry," he explained. "The love of music has always been — and still is — our motive, but I personally have lost something along the way. The massive amount of touring has taken its toll. Opeth has worked extremely hard to get where we are right now and in order to persist and maintain the quality of the music, it is necessary that we continue to work hard and always stay focused. But in doing so, it means that we nowadays spend 18 or 19 months on the road and I don't feel the same enthusiasm for the upcoming world tour that I have felt earlier. I have come to a point where I realize I won't be able to give the band 100 percent, and from both sides, this will not be good enough for what Opeth stands for." The band has recruited former Arch Enemy guitarist Fredrik Åkesson as Lindgren's replacement. ...

Speaking of Arch Enemy, the Swedish melodic death-metal band has wrapped recording its much-anticipated follow-up to 2005's Doomsday Machine. Produced by Fredrik Nordström (Dimmu Borgir, In Flames), the album is untitled for now, and there's no official word yet on when it will see the light of day. Frontwoman Angela Gossow said in a statement that she "experimented quite a bit with doubling vocal lines on the last album, which I now feel kind of took personality and vocal attack away. So this time it's the classic, one-vocal-track, no-frills and no-effects approach." Look for the disc to include "Blood Is on Your Hands," "Vultures" and "In This Shallow Grave." ... Florida metallers Khann — who feature former Bodies in the Gears of the Apparatus frontman Josh Vitale — have inked a deal with Black Market Activities, founded by the Red Chord's Guy Kozowyk. Khann's debut, Tofutopia, will boast a healthy 23 tracks, including "Himalayan Green," "Black Water Permeates" and "The Lone Hum." ...

Unearth have parted ways with drummer Mike Justian, claiming there were "many reasons why we decided it was time to move on without him, but we are not in the business of airing dirty laundry. ... We will say that we grew apart as individuals and as musicians and the split will be best for both the band and Mike." The band will carry on with Strapping Young Lad drummer Gene Hoglan. ... As for SYL, don't expect to hear from them anytime soon — or the Devin Townsend Band, for that matter. Devin Townsend has announced he'll be taking a break from the business of recording to focus on producing. "I have to do it for the love," he said, "[and] when it becomes a burden, it's time to step away for a while," he said. "I'm sure at some point I'll get the itch to play, but in the meantime, please respect that I've burnt myself out and need to get away from it all. I'm no good to anyone as a tired shell going through the motions for money." ...

Nile's forthcoming album Ithyphallic will be in stores July 20 and feature 10 new cuts, including "As He Creates So He Destroys," "Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve Its Possessor ..." and "Even the Gods Must Die." Look for the band all summer on this year's Ozzfest. ... Former Soilwork guitarist Peter Wichers reports he has returned from Sweden, where he was mixing and mastering a project he's been working on for over a year. The album, which will reportedly be released under the moniker Nuclear Blast All-Stars, will feature 10 tracks written by Wichers. A host of guest singers — including In Flames' Anders Fridén, Hypocrisy's Peter Tägtgren, former Anthrax frontman John Bush and Mark Osegueda of Death Angel — will contribute to the effort, which should be in stores later this year. ...

Norwegian black-metal luminaries Mayhem have announced that they'll be touring the States this summer — the first time the band has done so in six years. Their Deconsecrate the States run will hit select cities nationwide with support acts Nachtmystium, Sigh, Today Is the Day, Intronaut, Withered, Amber Asylum, Ludicra, Crematorium, November's Doom, Mouth of the Architect and Dekapitator. Mayhem will be touring in support of their forthcoming LP Ordo Ad Chao, which features singer Attila Csihar. The tour is set to kick off July 16 in San Francisco and run through July 25 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. ... Former Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares' new project, Divine Heresy, have signed with Century Media. Cazares also handles bass duties for the band, which includes drummer Tim Yeung (Hate Eternal, Vital Remains) and frontman Tommy Vext. The band's debut offering, Bleed the Fifth, will drop in August. ...

Biohazard's Evan Seinfeld — that lucky bald dude who's married to porn thespian Tera Patrick — has a new band he'd like you to hear called the Spyderz. The group also features guitarists Dirrty and Charli D, drummer Lee Nelson and bassist John Monty. The Spyderz's debut is expected to hit stores early next year, and they recently made their live debut during a gig with Buckcherry in Long Island, New York. ... South Carolina's Through the Eyes of the Dead will issue their next one, Malice, August 21. The disc marks the debut of singer Nate Johnson — American audiences will see him for the first time in June, when the band hits the road with the Red Chord. ...

New Jersey's God Forbid are keeping busy with touring but have several releases in the works as well. The band will head out with Hatebreed, Evergreen Terrace, Terror, the Acacia Strain and After the Burial under the Monsters of Mayhem 2 banner beginning Friday night (May 18) in Rochester, New York, with dates booked through June 9 in Indianapolis. The band recently filmed its gig at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey, which will be released soon in DVD form and include a documentary. God Forbid are also writing material for their next album and, according to a statement, "we really won't be able to dive into writing for real until this Hatebreed tour is over. [We] can tell you this, though: We are going to take our time with this next record. Every time we make an album, we try to do something that will make a mark on the fabric of heavy-music history. Whether that has happened or not, who knows? This time around is no exception. There are big ambitions, and I certainly wouldn't be surprised to hear significant change from the band." ...

Cellador are hard at work on their next album, which could be out early next year. "The plan is to compose upwards of 20 songs and then pick out the best 10 [to] 12 for the next album," the band said in a statement. "We hope to enter the studio and begin recording [this] fall." ... Those Viking-loving lads in 3 Inches of Blood have revealed a gaggle of Ozzfest off-date gigs with Lamb of God, Hatebreed and Behemoth. The shows are booked from July 13 in Vancouver, British Columbia, through September 2 in Richmond, Virginia. The band's forthcoming CD, Fire Up the Blades, is due in stores June 26.