It’s been a bleak and weary winter in New England this year. The arctic cold has come blasting from the North like a Panzer attack, set up shop, and refused to release its icy death grip. The snow has come like waves at the beach, lapping up everything in site over and over and over again. As brutal as it can be it’s also probably the perfect setting for writing epic, monstrous doom metal of the highest order, which is exactly what Rhode Island’s Pilgrim have done yet again.
2012’s Misery Wizard won the award for ‘best album that came out of nowhere’ for a lot of metalheads that year. Metal Blade’s newest champion of the label’s doom throne unleashed an absolute beast of a record complete with an enveloping sound predicated on droning riffs and soul-crushing heaviness. On their newest album, II: Void Worship, Pilgrim turn in their drone elements for a more melodic approach to the doom ethos. Don’t let that trick you into thinking this album isn’t as heavy or is in some way more radio friendly than their previous effort. On the contrary, the riffs on this album and the way the songs are structured are such that it’s an even darker and more sinister sounding effort in certain ways, not unlike the classic outputs of doom titans Trouble, Candlemass and Cathedral. For example, the intro track that rides into “Master’s Chamber” sounds like something out of an Italian horror film, before the thundering herd of doom cacophony is finally unleashed like some prehistoric monster. While tracks like “Void Worship” still batter the listener with a dreary cannonade that Pilgrim perfected on their previous album the band isn’t afraid to experiment, for example, reaching into the dark recesses of proto-metal and stoner rock for a track like “The Paladin”. The true beauty of this record though is when their monolithic sound merges with their desire to stretch their wings and they come away with a track like the instrumental “In The Process of Evil” with it’s substance being both bombastic and melodious.
There’s no denying that Pilgrim are a band that’s clicking on all cylinders right now. Despite losing one-third of their power trio since their last effort that hasn’t stopped them from writing an album that stands out amongst a very large crowd in the doom metal scene right now. But it’s most likely their ability to not paint themselves into a corner on this album that keeps these songs fresh after multiple listens. Even on a nine-minute exploration like “Away From Here” there’s never a stale moment, or the feeling that what they are doing is somehow forced or contrived. In fact, you could go the opposite side of the coin and say that this album is a tighter and more focused affair than their previous efforts.