Review : Pilgrim - Misery Wizard
PopmattersIn the sacred hall of legendary metal bands, Finnish doomster Reverend Bizarre is worshipped fervently. Back in the early ‘00s, the band took all that was unwieldy about doom metal and via some delightfully diabolic means stretched songs out to marathon lengths, making them all so crushingly heavy that they bordered on suffocating. When the band disbanded in ‘07 it left a huge gap in the doom scene. Many bands have endeavored to replicate Reverend’s life-extinguishing tenor, yet all have been found wanting. But from the sound of Misery Wizard, the debut from Rhode Island, New York trio Pilgrim, the band has dragged itself from the mire to take a crack at the position.
However strange it might seem when you think of heavy metal’s reputation for raucous energy, when Black Sabbath, Pentagram and Saint Vitus wrote the rulebook on doom, playing slow was rule number one. And that’s how it’s stayed, for traditional doom metal anyway. Some doom bands play to those limitations very well, with Candlemass being an obvious example. Some bands, like Cathedral, Sleep or Electric Wizard, scribble over a few doom directives, yet still end up leaving a distinctive signature on the scene. The impact bands make on the doom scene really comes down to how they configure doom’s downtempo foundation. Some bands adhere to just a few of doom’s key maxims—adding plenty of reverb, maxing out the distortion and playing unbelievably slow—but forget one important ingredient. Namely, to add a few barbed riffs, something for the listener to hang onto as the walls of desolation close in.
Pilgrim falls into this category. If you want a swaggering doom album with some memorable riffs and harmonious solos, then Misery Wizard is not for you. It pains me to say it, because I love the wretched tones that Pilgrim’s guitarist and vocalist ‘The Wizard’ hauls from his six-string. ‘Krolg, Slayer of Men’ pounds the drums with much authority, and ‘Count Elric the Soothsayer’ lays out some wonderfully percussive bass. Actually, just re-read those monikers—whether you think they’re killer or ridiculous should give you a fair indication of whether you’ll be digging this album.
Pilgrim lacks the finesse of fellow doom band Pallbearer, which recently released a startling debut. Nor, for all its droning menace, is the band avant-garde enough to fall into the realm of Sunn O))), and it’s definitely not shrouded in poignancy, like 40 Watt Sun. Misery Wizard is doom on horse tranquilizers. It’s monolithic riffs delivered at prehistoric snail’s pace, with vocals buried in a distantly echoing catacomb....full text
PitchforkLast year the two headiest stories in heavy metal keyed largely on transgression: There was Liturgy, of course, the Ivy League Brooklyn boys in tattered jeans and baggy t-shirts. They mixed black metal with math-rock and ecstatic classicism while writing a manifesto, making electronic music, and quoting David Tibet. Some people didn't like their attitude. And then there was Lulu, a collaboration between five very rich men who were so important to so many people in so many different contexts that culture critic Chuck Klosterman deigned to, once again, write about heavy music-- for a website bankrolled by ESPN, no less. Both of these scenarios included, for better and worse, someone crossing into new territory and subsequently raising either hackles or heckles.
But every battle doesn't have to be won or lost on a bleeding edge, an axiom that the young and enthusiastic doom metal trio Pilgrim keeps sacred. There's nothing shocking or even provocative to report about these three, except maybe that their noms de guerre are incredible: the Wizard sings and plays guitar; Krolg Splinterfest, Slayer of Man slays his drums; and Count Elric the Soothsayer thumbs the bass. Otherwise, the news is that their debut album, Misery Wizard, is an extraordinarily enjoyable if stylistically ordinary entrée into a field that's spawned dozens of offshoots and hybrids during the last four decades. The primary influences here are as obvious as they are legion-- Black Sabbath, Cathedral, Candlemass, Sleep, Saint Vitus, and Electric Wizard, just to shake the ashes off the tip of the old joint....full text
AngrymetalguyIs lumbering, elephantine doom your thing? Well, it had better be if you plan on spending quality time with Rhode Island doom-sayers, Pilgrim. That’s because their Misery Wizard debut serves up six ginomous slices of crawling, droning, monolithic doom with all the subtlety of a steel cage wrestling match. Do you think Saint Vitus and Reverend Bizarre are slow? Pilgrim is slower. Think Cathedral has some huge sounding riffs? Pilgrim has bigger ones. In a doom pissing contest, these chaps are mellow yellow. To help explain their sound, I’ve compiled a short list of things that move faster than Pilgrim. These include: octogenarians with bad knees, glaciers, evolution and innovation in black metal. Yep, Pilgrim is mighty slow. For a power trio, they make a lot of racket and stay true to the old school style of Sabbath-infused dirgery. They aren’t innovative or particularly dynamic and at times, they can get rather tiresome and tedious, even for a doom fanboy like Steel Druhm. Because of that last factoid, Misery Wizard is an album intended only for tried-and-true doom-hounds who don’t suffer from the slightest trace of ADD [I'll be over here, looking at moss. - AMG]. If your mind tends to wander, or drone makes you snooze, skip this release, or patience you’ll lose (HA! I waxed poetic).
Almost instantly, you’ll hear a big Reverend Bizarre similarity in the lead riff on “Astaroth.” It’s huge and sloth-like and Pilgrim uses it to beat you senseless, repeating it over and over until you’re curled up in a ball on the floor. Like most of the songs here, this one crawls along like a sleepy snail in Snail-ville, with just the riffs to keep you company. The vocals don’t come in til the halfway point and feel a bit like an afterthought. It’s a classic doom song and at about six minutes, it’s the perfect length and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Others, like the ten-minute-plus title track and the whooping thirteen minutes of “Forsaken Man,” require far more stamina and indulgence from the listener as Pilgrim shambles, rambles and meanders (slowly) across a largely barren and static musical landscape. There are few, if any, tempo shifts and its usually one molar-shaking riff after another, with a minimum of window dressing. “Quest” and “Adventurer” shake things up a bit with faster tempos and actual solos (though “Quest” only accelerates at the midway point), and after all the lethargic rumbling, the increased speed ends up making a real impact and these tracks are high points because of it....full text
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