To truly understand a band like Pilgrim, I truly believe you need to be stoned. Like, Cheech and Chong stoned. Like Rob Ford stoned. Unfortunately I don’t partake in the Mary Jane, so maybe I’ll never know how good this band really are. For me, I try to understand a new record by a band by listening to where it fits with their previous material. With Pilgrim, to understand ‘II: Void Worship’, you need to listen to ‘Misery Wizard’. Don’t worry, I’ve got 55 minutes, carry on.
Done? Ok good. Now, how good was that record? How much did it remind you of classic doom like Electric Wizard, Cathedral and new heroes Pallbearer, but yet in an exciting and non-derivative fashion? Exactly. Pilgrim are one of those bands that can take the basic tenets of doom and meld them into something riveting. Slow, not plodding. Atmospheric, not ‘moody’. Thunderous, not heavy. Pilgrim are the aural equivalent of being steamrollered by the Magic Roundabout. ‘II: Void Worship’ has a lot to live to.
Thankfully, it does. After a suitably short intro, we are immediately thrust into the ten minute thunder of ‘Master’s Chamber’. Capturing the essence of Cathedral and Vitus in a matter of riffs is definitely a good way to start, and this lumbering beast of a track doesn’t disappoint. The more upbeat ‘Paladin’ is next, rocking a faster pace and a mighty psychedelic vocal delivery. It is a cracking tune, led by the hand by a seriously catchy main riff. Pilgrim lay down every song with the intent of becoming THE next icon in the doom world, and with ‘II: Void Worship’, they are putting their case forward with gusto.
‘Arcane Sanctum’ has one of those classic mournful doom intros, a slow guitar melody that lurks in the gloom, lost and searching. When the lurching riffs appear, the melody slots in perfectly and it takes on a new life. Pilgrim don’t do much at speed, but good doom was generally always slow anyway. ‘In The Presence of Evil’ has a relentless, seasick groove to it. It sways and grooves, and demands that thy head be nodded in approval. ‘Void Worship’ is like being dragged slowly, inexorably to your doom (pun intended), slipping, sliding with no hope of rescue into the void. It is cavernous, endless and glacially slow. It’s also fucking perfect. Pilgrim have arrived on the scene in time to pick up Cathedral’s mantle, and drag it onward.
Closing with the ponderous ‘Dwarven March’ and the titanic ‘Away From Here’, Pilgrim are doom’s new flagbearers. ‘II: Void Worship’ is the sound of the endless space, reaching up to drag us in. Utterly, magnificently essential.
Scribed by: Sandy Williamson