Post-metal feels out of time. Since its appearance in the 1990s and its arguable heyday in the early-to-mid 2000s, this more progressive and experimental form of metal music has managed a feat few contemporary subgenres have: it has avoided becoming dated. Such categorization may be damning with faint praise. After all, how can a genre of music fall out of fashion when it was never in style to begin with? Still, commercial obscurity and stylistic variety have been kind to post-metal and its bands. Much like similar ‘post’ genres (rock, punk), theirs is a sound that, in 2023, is worthy of rediscovery.
Pelican‘s The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw is one such album, now remixed and remastered for old and hopefully new audiences. This new version comes with new mixes of all the original material and a number of demos on the back end for the faithful and the curious about the various evolutions such songs have taken since inception to release.
The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw was released in 2005, an auspicious time for post-metal. Distributed by Hydra Head, the record label of Aaron Turner (ISIS, Sumac), the record sat comfortably among a number of other high watermark releases for the time, such as Cult of Luna‘s Salvation and ISIS‘s Panopticon a year earlier, Boris‘ acclaimed Pink the same year and Russian Circles‘ debut Enter a year later.
Pelican’s sophomore effort expanded on their earlier vision in the worthy but slightly rougher Australasia with a bigger sound and scope. At times crushing in its layers of sound and distortion, at times mysterious and reflective through its acoustic passages, the album presents a band growing in confidence and understanding of their own take on heavy, instrumental music.
If there is any fault with the original record, perhaps at times, the sound could feel a little thick, often due to so many layers of instrumentation. The newly remixed and remastered The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw resolves any such issues, making the drums and guitars sound clear and bright without losing any of their power.
“March to the Sea” and “Red Ran Amber” sound even more gargantuan, with guitar lines distinct and clean against walls of distortion and pounding drums. The more melodic parts of the album are elevated, too, such as “Aurora Borealis” and “*”, while “Sirius” is a suitably cathartic closer, made all the more so with a mix that brings out the warmth and fullness of the guitars and bass.
The new version of The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw also includes an early version of “Red Ran Ramber” as well as demo versions of “Autumn into Summer”, “Sirius”, and “Last Day of Winter”. The early version of “Red Ran Amber” (entitled “Ran Amber”) is certainly worthwhile, and seems a softer and more contemplative tune than the final version, but is not so different as to offer something entirely unheard of for the casual listener.
Likewise, the demos are decent, but as the versions are only really distinguishable from their final masters by some minor audio differences, they may likely only appeal to diehard fans and completionists. It’s a small criticism, but including some more extras, like B sides or other outtakes, would have been appreciated.
Pelican’s newly remixed and remastered version of The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw is an excellent reworking of a post-metal staple. The songs have been boosted, their sounds enhanced, and the music is clearer, punchier, and more affecting than ever before. Post-metal is a genre deserving of new attention. For interested listeners, this would be a great place to start.