In the six years between the releases of Forever Becoming (2013) and Nighttime Stories (2019), the post-metal instrumentalists have experienced deaths, births, and assorted cruel slaps of fate. That bittersweet pill courses through Pelican's sixth full-length effort, stretching capillaries and diseased tissue to the breaking point. Brooding opener "WST," which pays tribute to guitarist Dallas Thomas' recently deceased father -- recorded with his dad's beloved acoustic guitar -- sets the tone, delivering copious amounts of doomy cinematics that seek catharsis through sheer sonic might. Lumbering follow-up "Midnight and Mescaline" ups the decibels, laying down meaty slabs of grade-A stoner metal shot through with serpentine NWOBHM-inspired guitarmonies -- Pelican have always excelled at coaxing out lustrous bits of melody from discord. Elsewhere, the seismic "Cold Hope" goes full-on Sabbath, while the hypnotic "It Stared at Me" does a fine job emulating the fugue-like gait of Pink Floyd's "Careful with That Ax Eugene." True to its title, Nighttime Stories' best moments appear late. The cacophonous titular cut, all filthy beauty and Lovecraft-ian dread, and the epic, multifaceted closer, "Full Moon, Black Water," which deftly pairs massive grunge riffs, soaring alternative rock, and Hawkwind-esque space rock with icy black metal, showcase the band at their funereal best, administering sonic hospice to a world that's grown too tired to claw its way out of the abyss.
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger