We’ve had our eyes on Pelagic Records ever since the label was started around the post metal powerhouse that is The Ocean. Their mission seems to be the quality release of anything hovering around the post metal and rock monikers, extending their fingers into dark folk, electronic beats and more. While Pelagic has been doing great things over the years since their founding, 2017 seems to have been a true watershed for them. From stellar releases (with names like Lo!, Labirinto, LLNN, pg.lost and many more) to new signings (like Ancestors, one of my favorite doom bands of all time), Pelagic has been all over the map of the metal community. Nothing drives home their upwards momentum more than a compilation they themselves have released, in conjunction with Visions Magazine.
This is their second compilation this year, which is already crazy enough. But what’s more impressive is that MMXVIII, as the compilation is titled, contains tracks from both this year but also from releases to come in the next, as its name implies. This is an interesting choice, rooting the label’s growth firmly in 2017 but expectant of what’s to come, mostly from its new signings but not exclusively. The last thing that makes MMXVIII so good is, well, that’s the music on it is really fucking good. While listening to this compilation (and keeping in mind that Pelagic recently signed Rosetta, one of the biggest names in underground post metal) it slowly becomes clear that Pelagic is basically dominating the post metal community, releasing music from some of the most exciting names in the industry.
The first track couplet to get this message across is Lesser Glow and the aforementioned Ancestors. The first represents the fifth track on the album and is off the Boston based band’s upcoming release, Ruined. The title track presented here is a massive undertaking, all bristling aggression on the vocals and cavernous chords crashing all around. The pauses are especially great, moments of silence that only accentuate how heavy the rest of the thing is. Right after it we have Ancestors. I can’t really stress how much I’ve been waiting for this album; it’s been half a decade since the masterful In Dreams and Time and boy does “Gone” not disappoint. It has the same dreamy quality that Ancestors have always been great at, their signature slow chords and guitars which pierce the heart, coupled with the incredibly evocative vocals that first made me fall in love with them.
Other tracks coming up in 2018 are no lesser exciting. First, we have the extremely different Arms and Sleepers, a relatively well known ambient/trip hop duo from America. After going on hiatus in 2012, these guys have been “back” for a while now, releasing an album in 2017 that’s sure to set your hearts at ease if you’re a fan of “cold” electronics of any form. This new track, from an album coming through Pelagic in 2018, is more of that, a tripped out and faintly melancholic trip hop sojourn that fits perfectly with the rest of the somber, albeit more metallic, tracks on the compilation. Returning to the realms of post metal, although their contribution is acoustic, we find ourselves with Hypno5e. For the uninitiated, these guys deal in incredibly intricate albums utilizing multiple languages and musical “movements” to create unique and harrowing soundscapes of modern degeneration and social anxiety. This track, “Cuarto del Alba”, is no different and I can only imagine the type of heavy passages that ring it on both sides.
Finally, we find Labirinto, who released one of our favorite post metal albums of 2017. This new track, “Oromo”, is up to par with what we know today to be extremely high standards, carefully crafted into a crushingly heavy and vividly expansive post metal creation. And that’s where the compilation ends but we’d obviously be remiss if we didn’t mention the other contributions, previously released by some of Pelagic’s best. You’ll find The Ocean, the aforementioned LLNN (seriously, this band is so underrated), Klone and Lo! among many others. Just looking at the track list of this compilation should make it clear to anyone why Pelagic Records have been one of the most important labels in metal and why they are fixing to be even more important in 2018 and beyond. Make sure to head over to the compilation’s page to listen to it in full and grab a free download!