Little is known of the power doom trio which hails from Providence, Rhode Island known as Pilgrim. I first became aware of them last spring from the release of their Forsaken Man demo cassette which was very intriguing, to say the least. With 2 tracks in just under 20 minutes Pilgrim got themselves hitched to Metal Blade and released their debut album Misery Wizard this week on an unsuspecting public of bummed out Cathedral fans.
I hate to make what's likely a grossly used comparison but let's face it, now that Cathedral have thrown in the towel it's very assuring to know that there are newer bands coming up to carry that epic, fantasy-laden torch into the future. On Misery Wizard, Pilgrim achieve a similar vibe that Cathedral displays on their debut classic Forrest Of Equilibrium (1990), however minus the folky/flutey elements and guttural vocals. In fact, the vocals on Misery Wizard are anything but guttural, they're actually quite sharp and invoking. This album has but six tracks yet each stands on its own exceptionally. The track "Astaroth" is the mission statement of this album. Astaroth, a Crowned Prince of Hell in the study of demonology, is the demon to which Pilgrim dedicate their music and art to. It is said that The Wizard (guitar/vocals), Count Elric the Soothsayer (bass) and Krolg Splinterfist, (drums) hail to Astaroth during every performance.
The title track to Misery Wizard is one of my favorite cuts. The song creeps eerily for over 10 minutes and builds to a great summit of release during the chorus. The massive sound that follows is a beautifully oppressive cut entitled "Masters Of The Sky". The title of this song really emphasizes one of my favorite aspects of this band's music, which is that it soars. It doesn't bog you down like so many other bands of this ilk. Pilgrim are not a band that's afraid to let single notes ring out to silence, moreover they know how to provide accouterment for said notes. The drumming, in particular the cymbal play, on this album is equally as crucial as the guitar and vocals, which is something I always enjoy. It should also be mentioned that the production job by Henry Yuan on this album is very tight. The difference between the demo versions of "Quest" and "Forsaken Man" and the re-recordings on Misery Wizard are like night and day. The track "Adventurer" could be called their "Soul Sacrifice", if you will, being that it is the shortest and therefore most thrashy cut on this album.
This is an extremely solid debut by a band that shows a lot of promise. The fact that it was released on the 42nd anniversary of the release of the first Black Sabbath album, I think proves that these guys really are Disciples Of True Doom.