Pelican is the Mars Volta for metalheads. It's transcendent, complex and experimental. Unlike the Mars Volta, however, Pelican's music flows so smoothly, a vocalist isn't necessary to help the listener navigate the intricate aural landscape created by these four Chicago men. After inking with Hydrahead Records (Isis, Pig Destroyer), the band released the LP Australasia, which became the underground CD everyone recommended because of its deep guitars and a rumbling rhythm section unlike anything else. But Pelican's latest disc, The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw, is more ambient and varied -- really, it's no longer distinctly metal. The foursome even brought in an acoustic guitar, and there are softer songs. The emotional intensity is still heavy as ever, though. Pelican pulls off a lack of lyrics in a way that both casual and focused listeners can enjoy. That means that even if you're not ready to dedicate an hour to appreciating Larry Herweg's drumming, Pelican also works as a background to painting or making out.