Planet Of The Dead look past all the beauty of their homeland of New Zealand to prepare their minds for an intergalactic battle. They laid the groundwork for raspy tales of cosmic fights with the more atmospheric 2020 debut Fear Of A Dead Planet. On 2021s Pilgrims they go in for blood. Spaced out musicians Mark Mundell on vocals, Malcolm McKenzie on guitar, Kees Hengst on bass, and Josh Hussey on drums conquer science fiction lightning in a bottle.
Droney opener Gom Jabbar sweats confidence like any high-handed enemy by poisoning the ears of listeners or will simply drive a needle into your neck before escape is possible. Drilling Pilgrim beats its chest with violent threats like a caveman smashing a village after being transported to conquer and destroy anything weak in his path. Like a black acid spitting alien of a nightmare, Nostromo echoes from the shadows, lurking always three steps ahead from where you are. The drumming by Hussey forces the terror forward at every step. A tonal shift desolating any hope felt whatsoever.
Sounding like a Failure song fighting a Hum song in an opium den in a William Gibson novel, The Sprawl has so much density it’s easy to get lost in each soundscape. Beauty permeates each turn making you forget the shrieks heard from the beginning of this space trek. McKenzie and Hengst truly shine here (hear?) by making these dense fuzz filled voids I want to get lost in, until it unfortunately ends. Escape From Smith’s Grove cranks the evil back up dragging your heart with it kicking and screaming, as a masked killer that smells of spray paint, looking vaguely like Captain Kirk, ravages any holiday.
Like a black acid spitting alien of a nightmare, Nostromo echoes from the shadows…
Tight as a glove, Directive IV has a riff that mercilessly it sets its sights on any life that’s less than virtuous in the eye of whatever police officer/bounty hunter/mercenary Mundell is possessed by. Insert a joke about Directives I, II, and III here. Are you attached to a barn? Like any barn at all? That’s because The Cursed Earth is a barn burner. Classic death metal vocals come in, making me want to head bang until my vertebrae inflame. If you don’t blast this while getting a Judge Dredd tattoo on your inner thigh (where else would you get it?) are you even a true fan?
Sombre closer The Great Wave, for those following the clearly told story, this little diddy tells tales of a fire in the sky. Power chords snap the pace up until we hit what sounds like a gig ending and left burned in my brain like a color woodblock piece of art.
What’s perfect is Planet Of The Dead don’t overstay their welcome. They come in and spill their guts for a bit. They don’t bask in it, but simply let their talents speak for themselves. And if the band read this, did I get all the references?
Scribed by: Richard Murray