Friday, 25 April 2014

Pilgrim II - Void Worship (Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 1/4/2014
Label : Metal Blade Records

Pilgrim II- Void Worship, album track listing :
01. Intro 01:46
02. Master’s Chamber 10:35
03. The Paladin 04:08
04. Arcane Sanctum 04:09
05. In the Presence of Evil 03:47
06. Void Worship 08:51
07. Dwarven March 01:53
08. Away from Here 09:38

Bio :

Their first release shook the doom metal underground to its core, making a loud, in your face effort to bring doom metal back to its most minimalist and archaic roots, restoring it to its former glory. Their critical success, paired with their controversial interviews and emotionally draining live performances have lead PILGRIM to excellence, traversing the globe performing sold-out shows in multiple countries and playing festivals alongside some of the biggest names in their genre. Two years later, the fabled outfit has returned with a brand new record, the highly anticipated next installment of their aural adventure "PILGRIM II: VOID WORSHIP."

PILGRIM returns more powerful than ever, wielding eight new epic tracks laden with tales of sword and sorcery, death, doom and destruction. Recorded at Moonlight Mile Recording by audio mastermind Mike Moebius, II: VOID WORSHIP delivers an absolutely unrivaled quality of tone and heaviness that many critics felt their original effort MISERY WIZARD had lacked. The band takes a new approach to their song writing, replacing meditated, repetitive hypnosis-inducing dirges with more calculated and demented power-house riffs. They build, shape, and climb into frenzied climaxes and fade into sweet sonic releases, molding perfectly crafted rock songs into twisting spires of evil doom metal masterpieces. It is obvious that PILGRIM has matured, both musically and as individuals, in their past two years of global conquest.

Just because 2013 had seen the departure of original bassist Count Elric the Soothsayer doesn't mean PILGRIM have lost any of their determination or prowess. Drummer "Krolg, Slayer of Man" and singer, songwriter, guitarist and vocalist "The Wizard" have harnessed and immaculately balanced their chemistry as a duo, seeing The Wizard taking over on bass duties for this studio effort. On their most recent excursion to Europe, the two were joined by "Bradoc the Barbarian", drummer of Massachusetts's illustrious ICE DRAGON, filling in live for Count Elric's absence on bass guitar.

The Band :

Krolg, Slayer of Men | Drums
The Wizard | Guitar, Bass and Vocals

Review :

Rhode Island's Pilgrim have returned with Void Worship, which follows their debut release “Misery Wizard.” An ominous intro sets the tone for the rest of the record- true, plodding doom of the slowest variety. ‘Master's Chamber’ lumbers into earshot and carries on in the same vein for over ten minutes. Make no mistake, this is real doom, played by real doom obsessive’s. The band's line up is now stripped down to two (bassist Count Elric The Soothsayer- not his real name- left back in 2013).

Doom often can be categorised into two camps: fantasy based and reality based. Pilgrim firmly fall into the former category, so how much you engage with the material may be informed, somewhat, by your feelings towards, say, Lord of The Rings or Game of Thrones or what have you. While the lyrical themes may not be everyone's cup of tea, the music should appeal to anyone who has an interest in the neanderthal, the powerful, the slow, the crushing and all other words you can apply to any one of Electric Wizard's releases.

‘The Paladin’ follows up with a swinging groove (thus hitting warp speed for the genre) and the production comes through as bright and weighty, the bass underpinning the guitars with a satisfying rumble. The vocals are much improved over “Misery Wizard”- more melancholic in their delivery, but still mixed back in the overall sound. The pile driving groove continues in an unrelenting manner- double kicks are introduced!- and a very downtuned solo bursts forth- magical stuff.

‘Arcane Sanctum’ starts in a much more restrained manner- foreboding clean guitar and s-l-o-w drums set the scene for a perfectly pitched instrumental of creeping dread.

‘In The Presence of Evil’ has a kind of momentum driven groove, while working at a still admirably slow pace- it is clear that the band have been working on their song-writing and musicianship as the album boasts more memorable sections and riffs in one track than the whole of Misery Wizard combined, in my humble opinion. No vocals again, here, as the album's middle section closes. It seems that the focus is on the riff and the musicality that can be wrought therein, rather than hypnotic grooves per se, this time around.

‘Void Worship’ enters the fray to stake its claim as the album's definitive statement. Again, it is slow, well thought out and epic in length. Vocals feature here as the groove just creeps onwards with impressive pacing.  Dwarven March’ continues the leaden sound that dominates the record, and sounds exactly like its title- no mean feat! The brief length makes for a perfect primer/bridge to the album's closing statement.

‘Away From Here’ spreads its wings close to the ten minute mark and allows the band to play to their strengths- good pacing, strong melancholic vibes and no rushing- the song develops organically and introduces new elements as and when needed. The sense of drama is upped on this track and the album is thus closed in impressive style.

For those of you looking for true doom, look no further. A massive improvement over their debut and a record that will stand up to anything else in the genre this year.

Words by : Richard Maw

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