Rhode Island’s Pilgrim are everything you could want in a doom band born in these modern times. Relentlessly heavy, but imaginative and eccentric, Pilgrim take the warped thunder of Cathedral and Electric Wizard and twist them into new forms. I spoke to The Wizard about ‘II: Void Worship’, their stunning sophomore record and found where the Pilgrim ethos comes from.
Where did the idea for Pilgrim come together?
I started Pilgrim back in 2011. The original concept of the band was to mix my worship of doom metal with my worship of fantasy games and role-playing. I always felt like the way fantasy was represented in metal was not exactly the way I thought it should be in my head. It started strictly as a recording project, but it quickly turned into a live band when I asked Krolg to play drums.
What is the doom scene in Rhode Island like, and is there anything specific about the state that led you to creating Pilgrim’s style?
There’s not too much doom metal in Rhode Island. There’s us and our friends in Balam and that’s about it, at least for the style of doom that we enjoy. The scene has grown quite a bit though. A doom metal show in Rhode Island is ALWAYS sold out, whether it’s in Providence or not. I’m quite pleased with the scene here now.
I’m not really sure that anything about Rhode Island has influenced our music. I didn’t even know that HP Lovecraft had anything to do with Rhode Island until I was a young adult. If Pilgrim was Rhode Island inspired, all the songs would probably be quahogs and sail boats.
‘Misery Wizard’ was very well regarded when it was released in 2012, did this create pressure for the second record?
There was massive pressure on ourselves to not fuck up the actual recording quality of the record. We were quite unhappy with how our sound came across on the first record and were HELLBENT on making sure that our new record was one of the heaviest things people ever heard in their lives. Krolg and I find the first record to be quite embarrassing now sonically. We can barely listen to it.
Many doom bands can share such similar traits and styles that a new band can become lost in the mix, no matter how good they are. Has it been difficult to ‘breakout’ and become a unique entity?
I don’t think so. Originality and uniqueness is something that we wholeheartedly represent as people. We absolutely loath unoriginal music. It’s such a waste in our eyes. There’s a difference between worship and utter unchecked plagiarism.
Did becoming a duo affect the recording process for the new record?
No. Although we credited Count Elric on bass guitar on the first record, he never actually played on it. I played bass for that record as well. So it was pretty much exactly the same experience tracking wise. The major differences were that we worked very closely and intently on the sonic quality of the record, something that we neglected horribly on the first one.
Onto ‘Void Worship’. There’s something inherently dark about it, an ominous vibe permeates each song. What were the main inspirations for it?
It’s simply our second record. There was no crazy concept or planned goal for this record (other than being heavy and awesome). It’s just a collection of songs, the next chapter in our musical pilgrimage. A lot of the material is actually old material from before Misery Wizard that I recorded, forgot about, and then rediscovered.
The lyrics themes are a bit private, but I think anyone with a keen mind can figure out what the songs are about if they listen closely enough.
Is there any band who inspire your style of playing more than others? I feel that you could be spiritual successors to Cathedral, you have the same eccentric, dragging groove that they had.
Thanks! I think a massive amount of initial inspiration for Pilgrim came from Sleep and Electric Wizard. Electric Wizard warped my fucking mind. That band changed who I am and who I will always be. Quite brutal. Eventually, the mighty Reverend Bizarre became my #1 inspiration as far as the style of doom that I loved. Slow, crawling, epic, expansive, but not cheesy.
You recently played with Mount Salem in Chicago, one of my own new favourite bands. Is there any bands you’ve toured with who you’d recommend people to check out, and is there anyone you’d like to share a stage with?
The best tour we ever did was with Windhand, but everyone knows who they are now! Some extremely excellent bands we’ve played with that I recommend are Druglord, Natur, Balam, Ice Dragon, The Wounded Kings, and Sinister Haze, just to name a few.
We’re really hoping to share the stage with Conan or Bongripper sometime soon.
If you could sell the idea, the concept of Pilgrim in one sentence, what would it be?
Fuck, I can’t. Something about heaviness and wizards, whatever.
Thanks for the interview and please use this space for any final words…
Take drugs, worship Satan, reject reality.
Interviewed by: Sandy Williamson