Follow by Email

14.12.11

Pilgrim - 'Misery Wizard' (metalblade) 4/5

Until yesterday I knew three things about Rhode Island. 1) It's the smallest state in the union, 2) its the home to a fictional family in a popular US animated sitcom and 3) The place gave its name to a breed of chicken. But now I have a fourth fact, its the place where doom metal titans Pilgrim hail from.

Now Pilgrim are a classic power trio of The Wizard on guitar and vocals, Elric The Soothsayer on bass and a certain Krolg, The Slayer Of Men on drums; and they play doom metal of the darkest and doomiest kind. Imagine the sort of stuff the likes of St Vitus and Candlemass were doing back in the late 80's and you'll get the idea.

Now the first thing you notice about this album is how slow it is. Its SLOW, very slow indeed; so slow in fact it makes a lot of Black Sabbaths early work sound almost speed metal in comparison. In fact its not until half way into the the third track Quest, that the tempo even lifts beyond funeral march speed, when Pilgrim go off on a Witchfinder General style trip for a minute or so before slamming on the breaks again and grinding out the rest of the track in fine funeral metal tradition.

The second thing that hits you it that this album is epic in scope. There are six songs on offer, half of which top the 10 minute mark - in fact only one song, Adventurer (a surprisingly snappy tune that sounds not unlike NWOBHM gods Pagan Alter) comes in at under five (don't go expecting much mainstream radio play guys).

Now I know what your thinking, this has gotta be one boring album. But you'd be wrong in thinking that. Despite the fact this album moves along with all the pace of an arthritic tortoise it still keeps itself very entertaining and listenable. This is partly due to some cleaver production that positions everything in the mix perfectly, with plenty of space around each instrument so every power chord and cymbal splash has room to breath and resonate to maximum effect and turns the whole listening experience into a gloriously dark sound-scape. The other key factor is that the vocals here are clean, not a pig grunt or death groan in sight, this means you can hear exactly what The Wizard is singing about as he spins his dark tales of swords, sorcery, death, damnation and daring do. All of this results in a very entertaining listen that holds the attention for the entire album and makes the whole work stand up to repeated plays.

In short I'm pretty impressed with this album. it's been a while since I last discovered a new doom act of the old school, and a long time since I've found one as good as this. Highly recommended.

For fans of... Black Sabbath, St. Vitus, Candlemass, Pagan Alter, Witchfinder General.....