Pelican is a post-metal quartet from Chicago, Illinois. Established in 2000, the band stems from their native post-metal scene and is known for their atmospheric and, with no vocalist in the group, almost entirely instrumental style. They have released four studio albums and four EPs and gained television exposure.
The band is known for its dense combinations of different melodies and extended track lengths. Its distinctive sound draws from stoner rock, doom metal, post-rock, and other influences. Larry Herweg, Trevor de Brauw, and Laurent Schroeder-Lebec also make up three-quarters of the band Tusk.
Previously signed to Hydra Head Records (which is owned and operated by Aaron Turner of Isis), Pelican is now part of the Southern Lord Records roster. The label has also announced that Pelican will embark on a tour with new labelmates Wolves in the Throne Room and that their first release for their new label is an EP titled Ephemeral, which was released June 6, 2009. Trevor de Brauw stated that the new material would be darker, heavier and more "riff oriented" than on previous recordings, and Southern Lord stated that an undisclosed guest guitarist who "is very influential to the band" would be making an appearance on the new recording as well. What We All Come to Need was released on October 27, 2009. Greg Anderson and Aaron Turner both appeared on the album. In celebration of the new album, the "Pelican Burger" was served at Kuma's Corner for one night.
Regarding the band's genre, de Brauw said, "I don’t think of Pelican as a metal band... I feel like we're part of a trajectory of Midwest bands that kind of blend aggression with a pop sensibility, so while it's easy to classify us with instrumental bands, we're not instrumental by design. We just didn't know how to put vocals in our music and for it to sound right."
Speaking on the plethora of labels used to describe Pelican's genre, bassist Bryan Herweg states that "it's flattering, really", and that "I take that as nobody being able to classify what we're doing. I really don't want to be fixed in one genre."
As for the instrumental nature of the band, Herweg states that "I think there are limitations that come with having a vocalist. If we had some big burly man in front screaming, we'd be classified as metal. If we had some scrawny guy we'd be emo. As it is, no one can pin us down."Touring has evolved the band's style from "drawn-out... slow-building" to "more direct and faster, and straight to the point" material to provide more energy on stage.