Poison Tongue/Metal Blade
14 February 2012
by Tom Dare
While music obviously needs bands capable of doing radically new, different things, it also needs bands that refine existing styles and add their own voice. Pilgrim fall into the latter category – they’re not going to spawn an entire new sound, but they are going to deafen, hypnotise and bewitch you in short order.
If you’re an Electric Wizard fan, you may have just found your new favourite band. Pilgrim’s formula is on similar lines, and no less effective. Absolutely crushing riffs – the kind that feel like someone’s dropping a moderately-sized oil tanker on your back – with yawning chasms between them you can practically fall into. Around them floats a thick, intoxicating fog of green-tinged smoke that seeps into your bloodstream and has precisely the effect you’d expect – befuddlement.
The nuts and bolts of Misery Wizard are all as good as you could ask for – riffs, haunting, forlorn vocals, a drummer who knows when to hit the kit like he hates the skins and when to step back, and a bass sound that fucking hurts – but it’s the atmosphere it conjures up that takes Pilgrim’s debut from good to great. The American trio manage to bewitch your mind, whether at their (comparatively) rapid moments of attack or the agonisingly slow passages, to the point where time seems to slow down. The compositions may be mammoth (four of the six songs are around the ten minute mark or above) but they seem to pass in a flash. It’s a transfixing thing to listen to – one minute you’ve hit “play”, the next the gaping void of the end is yawning and an hour has passed.
Unsurprisingly given the title, it’s about as cheerful as the second half of Puccini’s Tosca (if you’re not familiar with it, the plot is basically this: everyone dies) turned into a film by Ingmar Bergman. You might find the album’s flown by, but there’s no doubt you’ll notice the effect of its passage – hope will have departed, the world seems a darker, bleaker place and you’ll probably look on a Primordial record as relatively uplifting by comparison. You’re also likely to have a stiff neck from all the banging your head will have done, that the floor is sagging under the weight of the assault and that you’ll want to do it all again before very long.
Druggy, heavy-as-balls doom is alive and well in 2012 even before Saint Vitus have their album out thanks to Pilgrim. You’ll struggle to find a more aptly named recording this side of Anaal Nathrakh’s Total Fucking Necro demo than Misery Wizard. It’s despondent, mesmeric and magic.
Sounds Like: Electric Wizard, Reverend Bizarre, earliest Cathedral
Standout Tracks: You’ll be too hypnotised to tell tracks apart, but Astaroth & Masters Of The Sky