Saturday, May 31, 2014

…dreaming of salvation: PILGRIM – ‘II: Void Worship’

Those lucky enough to catch the reunited Spirit Caravan on their recent trek through the states not only stood witness to an unbelievable show at the hands of Wino, Sherman, and replacement drummer Henry Vasquez, but those in attendance were also able to catch an impressive set from Rhode Island traditional doom practitioners Pilgrim. Despite initial complaints of blowing out his voice by the time they hit Denver, Jon “The Wizard” Rossi rendered a sublime and emotional performance that more than adequately captured the heavy, desolate atmosphere of the band’s sophomore album ‘II: Void Worship’. While the band’s debut, ‘Misery Wizard’, was a more-than-capable initial outing ‘II: Void Worship’ surpasses its predecessor in every conceivable way. Graced with amazing and complementary cover art courtesy of Adam Burke (Fellwoods, Pushy), ‘II: Void Worship’ is a twisted journey through uncharted realms fraught with madness and despair as recompense for the attainment of forbidden knowledge and mastery of the arcane tongue.

Pilgrim are fully entrenched in the traditional doom mold—lumbering riffs, plodding drums, and tales of woe are abundant, but the band has managed to carve out their own sound courtesy of excellent compositions, fantastical imagery, and The Wizard’s unmistakable croon. The eight tracks of ‘II: Void Worship’—four of which are instrumentals—do not fall prey to monotony. The instrumentals contribute to the album’s overall desolate feel and the remaining four tracks, despite an average runtime near the eight minute mark, never feel bloated or overlong. Album highlight “Master’s Chamber”, despite the initial belabored riffing, is a sprawling ten-minute masterpiece that incorporates numerous tempo changes and shifts in tone while featuring some of The Wizard’s most heart-rending vocals to date, particularly on the letter half of the track.

As if to answer the epic scope of “Master’s Chamber”, Pilgrim unleashes a heavy, up-tempo burner with “The Paladin”, a straight forward rocker that shows the band is equally adept at crafting heavy, downtrodden tunes as they are at rocking-the-fuck-out when the need arises. “The Paladin” definitely stands out amongst the band’s material, and it is a shame that they do not venture into this territory more often. The leads simply sizzle and Krolg Splinterfist’s drumming has never sounded so propulsive. The album’s title track, “Void Worship”, may stand as Pilgrim’s crowning achievement thus far. Combining the band’s mastery of plodding tempos with some truly inspired leads accompanied by the occasional discordant riff has yielded a nine minute beast of a tune. While “Void Worship” does not have the expansive feel of “Master’s Chamber” it manages to entrance the listener in its hypnotic spell.

It is always an impressive feat when a band can top a debut that is exceptional to begin with and Pilgrim have managed to do just that. ‘II: Void Worship’ is primarily a somber affair, but the band has definitely grown since their initial outing and have incorporated additional textures into their compositions which has resulted in one of the strongest doom albums of the year. Hail Astaroth...



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