In my opinion, PILGRIM is the best new band in doom. I have been able to see them in a live setting twice, and their debut LP Misery Wizard still continues to blow me away with each spin on my turntable. To me, doom is defined in the riff. If you can’t lose yourself in the riff, it’s not good doom. PILGRIM has that down to a science, and it doesn’t hurt that their lyrical content and vocal work is just as great as their instrumentation.
II: Void Worship will be released April 1, via Metal Blade Records, and is their first offering on the renowned label. Track one is an instrumental “Intro” and it is catchy as all hell! I’ve randomly had this melodic work of guitar, and what sounds like organ, get stuck in my head multiple times over the past two weeks. It sets up the following song, “Masters Chamber,” perfectly as the riffs tie into one another. My first time hearing it was when I caught the doom trio live in Baltimore, Maryland at The Metro Gallery back on March 7. It is just as epic on the album as it was in person! The 11:36 exhibition of the band’s ability is a journey. The song goes through many changes in tempo and feeling. This ranges from slow and beaten down with emotional vocals, sounding as if The Wizard had just returned from an exhaustive battle, to higher energy, guitar string abusing, drum kit mashing, evil riffs. Some of my favorite riffage happens around the seven-minute mark.
“The Paladin” is next, featuring some of my favorite guitar parts. It busts out of the gate fast and melodic, like a warhorse headed to victory. The Wizard’s guitar composition absolutely shines throughout, matched only by the excellence of his voice. His range is delivered in victorious fashion. Krolg, Slayer of Men makes this track all the more punishing behind the kit. The points of percussion emphasis chosen during the song really make it hit much harder. “Arcane Sanctum” follows, opening with a slower, clean toned guitar and light drums. Just four tracks in and this disc already has more peaks and valleys than some bands’ entire albums. I’m a HUGE fan of a musical landscape being varied, and this one is mountainous. This instrumental eventually crescendos and provides some excellent riffs, as PILGRIM executes so well.
“In the Presence of Evil” is my undisputed favorite track on II: Void Worship. Approximately the first minute of this song sounds black metal to me. A decaying guitar tone, arpeggiated chords, and dark atmosphere come together, later giving way to mammoth, dark, and gloomy sections. This song is also purely instrumental, and it is outstanding. The title track clocks in at just under ten minutes. It starts, plodding along at a glacial pace, soon turning to haunting vocals and percussive duality between guitars and drums. This composition has a ghastly feel to it. From the vocals, to the overall atmosphere, it feels as if it hovers like a tortured spirit.
“Dwarven March” seems like an instrumental prelude to the final piece, “Away From Here.” It reminds me of something that would be played to rally the horde and march onward on the journey to war. The eighth and final number is nearly 11 minutes of epic doom. “Away From Here” is full of emotion, conveyed through vocal harmonies and eerie instrumental sections. The heavy flows through this song’s lifeblood and serves well in bringing this LP full circle. II: Void Worship is an incredible second effort that shows PILGRIM has not fallen victim to the “sophomore slump.” It is a well done follow up to Misery Wizard, showing they are continually improving as a band. It is not Misery Wizard all over again, but an evolution in their sound and skill. A must listen and must own for all doom fans. Bang your heads slowly, embrace the doom, and hail Astaroth! PILGRIM is just starting their battle for doom royalty.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “The Paladin”, “In The Presence of Evil”, “Void Worship”
WRITTEN BY ERIC THE BULL