Interview with Jon Rossi of Pilgrim

Bringing forth the essence of “true doom metal”, Rhode Island metalers Pilgrim are about to unleash a brute of an impressive album in the shape of Misery Wizard. A monster of a release it is an intense assault of black dirges, resonating ravenous riffs and blistering caustic melodies that feeds and excites the senses. We had the pleasure of asking Jon Rossi from Pilgrim about the band and Misery Wizard.

Hello and thank you for taking time to talk to The Ringmaster Review.

Hails, and you are very welcome.

Could you please first introduce the band and tell us how you all met and the band started.

We are PILGRIM, a doom metal band from Rhode Island, USA. We all met in high school and bonded over good art and music.

What was the inspiration to start the band and for your music as a whole?

We all loved doom metal and wanted to start a project of our own, something that expressed ourselves uniquely but also paid tribute to our favorite bands. PILGRIM was born fairly quickly.

Your sound is fuelled by and the band’s intent is to ‘resurrect’ true doom metal. Firstly how do you feel about modern doom metal then?

Don’t get us wrong, there are a lot of great ‘doom metal’ bands around now, but we feel like, ESPECIALLY here in the States, ‘doom metal’ has become a blanket term to describe everything from stoner metal to funeral metal. We feel like we have a very good idea of what real doom metal should be and what it sounds like. In that regard, we are very unhappy with the current state of doom.

So is this intention as much down to your unrest and disgust at the way the genre has gone as it is simply music that you enjoy and are inspired by?

Exactly! I couldn’t have said it better, thank you.

Are you finding a ready audience for true doom metal or most need reminding of and showing its might first?

It seems like Europeans really love it and understand it and people here in the US are a bit… taken aback? Perhaps they are frightened and insecure about the fact that I am not fucking screaming into the microphone. Or maybe their fragile ears can’t handle a note suspended for more than a few seconds. Most DEFINITELY need reminding. Forgive us for not conforming to an over-popular norm.

Are there any current doom metal bands you would spend time on listening to?

Sure. Good old Pentagram and Saint Vitus are still kicking, touring and releasing new records. We love Electric Wizard and Blood Ceremony. Ramesses are godly as well.

Has doom metal always been the direction you had as musicians even before the band?

Not quite. We always wanted to make heavy, powerful, dark music, but before we found doom metal we really had no direction. My guitar playing and song writing really took off after I discovered bands that I finally could to relate to.

You are Rhode Island based, is there a vibrant metal scene there or do you have to generally travel further afield for gigs etc?

Rhode Island is a joke, generally speaking. Don’t get me wrong, some amazing bands have come from Rhode Island, but currently it’s “music scene” (if you could call it that) is a bit… I can’t quite find the word. Perhaps “boring” is a good choice.

You are about to release your impressive debut album Misery Wizard, what are the emotions on the ‘eve’ of its release?

I can’t wait to hold a copy of the vinyl in my hands. It’s taken so very very long. We are just excited the process is over with and we can continue to look forward to our new projects.

How long has the album been in the making?

It is a collection of our earliest songs, so probably about two years, since the beginning of the band. We weren’t sure what exactly we’d be releasing for the first record, it sort of just fell together on its own.

Is there a particular track or moment on the album that gives you the deepest satisfaction?

Although it is the least “doomy” track on the record, I love the song Adventurer. It’s a fantastical auto-biography of the band and our adventures and creeds. It is just so powerful to me.

Can you give us some insight into the band’s writing process?

I get inspired by a particular idea and I try my best to make a riff that represents the feeling of that thought. It’s like painting with music. Then I bring it to practice and the guys help me make it into a song by giving it backbone. I enjoy the process. They give me feedback and constructive criticism. I value their opinions highly.

The songs within Misery Wizard are epic in length and stature, how much is predetermined and how much is it a songs natural evolution that gives them this grand imposing feel?

You are an observant listener! I always say, the songs aren’t REALLY that ‘long’, on paper they are quite short, it is just the speed and style that make them come out so lengthy. It’s an acquired taste. A lot of old secular music was like this. It didn’t feel long to them, we just think faster today.

Lyrically the songs are diverse, what are the things that inspire and trigger the lyrics?

I am inspired by a lot of fantasy, whether it’s games or movies or books. Some of the lyrics are introspective, but I prefer songs that paint beautifully epic pictures. Sword and sorcery is my favorite domain! I suppose some of it also comes from a love of the occult and magic ritual, but recently we’ve been moving away from this style because of its redundancy in doom metal today.

One imagines live your sound is even more powerful and overwhelming than on the album, how easy was it to get that intensity on the recording and still keep the clarity too?

It was easy! Making the music intense and full of emotion is something that PILGRIM is exceptionally good at. A lot of it has to do with Krolg’s drumming, he is excellent at building walls of feeling and then smashing them down. When we recorded the record, it only took us three days (the first day being mostly drums). We are (usually) very well rehearsed.

Could you tell us about the excellent artwork on the album?

It was done by a wonderful Englishmen named Paul McCarol. We wanted to a parody of a Renascence-style painting using elements and themes from the record. We worked really closely with Paul to come up with that image. A lot of people claim that we are attempting to rip off the Cathedral style artwork. This simply isn’t true. We can clearly see how someone would think this, but it’s pure coincidence. We don’t really listen to very much Cathedral.

Does 2012 have dates and tours ahead to help promote the album etc, and any chance Europe will see Pilgrim this year?

Europe will see PILGRIM this year, we will be playing the “Heavy Days in Doom Town” festival in Copenhagen, Denmark and also a prior show in Oslo, the details of which are a bit hazy as of now.  We will be hitting the road here in the states starting March 1st, hoping to wind up down in Dallas, TX to play the SxSW festival.

What are your plans beyond Misery Wizard?

To go to Japan. We fucking love Japan.

A great many thanks for talking with us, have you any last words or thoughts?

Only Reverend Bizarre is real. Fuck everyone.

And finally can you give recommendations to Doom Metal fans of whom other than Pilgrim they should check out to explore the true doom metal sound?

Reverend Bizarre, Saint Vitus, Pentagram, Revelation, Ramesses, Electric Wizard, The Wizar’d, Black Hole, Witchfinder General, EARLY Cathedral, EARLY Warning, and check out some newer bands Ice Dragon and Windhand.        

Misery Wizard is unleashed via Metal Blade Records on February 14th

Read the Misery Wizard review @

Ringmaster 10/02/2012 Registered & Protected


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Karnak Seti – In Harmonic Entropy

With a will and energy as formidable as their crushing sound Karnak Seti release their new self-released album In Harmonic Entropy. The release is earnest and eager, a powerful collection of songs with an intent to give maximum damage and satisfaction, and overall it pretty much succeeds on both fronts. The album bursts with forceful riffs and intricate expressive melodic invention to keep the senses constantly on alert and intrigued. Muscular and intimidating it is equally caring and decisive in bringing well structured and crafted melodic extreme metal to your table. It would be fair to say it is not bursting out with anything startling in a new sound way but In Harmonic Entropy is still a superior and tasty feast to get ones teeth into.

The quintet from Portugal first made people notice with their debut album Scars of your Decay of 2009. Full of promise and solid sounds the band announced themselves as a band to keep an eye on and with this new release have confirmed that promise even if there is still a sense of much more to come. In Harmonic Entropy is a more mature album than the debut as one would expect with fuller sounds and structured with obvious concentrated care. They have not reduced their intensity, in fact notched it up somewhat but have brought their melodic invention even more to the fore. The blend is impressive, deeply pleasing and again portent of what surely will emerge from the band as they evolve further and hone their songwriting skills even more.

The album is the first release with new singer Luis Erre joining guitarists António Jesus and Renato Ramos, bassist Claudio Aguiar, and drummer Luis Barreto. Erre’s vocals are harsh and caustic, his growls scathing upon the ear and a good compliment to the raw power of the music and contrast to the impressive melodies and intricacies. He offers just enough diversity to his delivery to never allow his hoarse tones to grate, something a few bands lately should take note of.

The album opens with ‘Long Gone Shadow’, probably its most accessible song though none are a problem to get fully engaged with. Belligerent riffs, a glorious senses twisting groove, and excitable keys all infuse the track with keen energy and addictive sounds. It may not be the best or rather most creative track on the release but it probably will be understandably the favourite of many, its eagerness to please irresistible. Following track ‘Only Red Mist Descends’ ups the ante with more tempting riffs and razor sharp melodies, and a vocal harmony at times to lose fluids over. The track ripples with all the evidence as to why one can see Karnak Seti making deep marks ahead within metal, beautifully crafted its hard bordering on threatening intensity is in a perfect blend with the creative ingenuity of the band. Easily the best track on the album of what are nine extremely enjoyable tracks.

The album is not a brutal beast but certainly makes demands of and takes from the ear with strong force. The intricate technical precision and blistering melodies are a wonderful balance to the aggression and at times fierce and heavy emotional intent of lyrics and expression. Tracks such as the imposing and grief laden ‘Loss’, the emotive and mesmeric ‘Stranded By Existence’ with an exuberant picky keyboard niggling throughout, and the excellent ‘Figureless Icons’ which sees the band doing their best In Flames impression and pulling it off without making one shout ‘copycats’, all shine and please tremendously.

In Harmonic Entropy is for all fans of the likes of In Flames, Soilwork, and As I Lay Dying and that is where the only criticism that can be laid at the album’s feet stems. The Portuguese metalers have not yet found that distinct Karnak Seti sound to set themselves apart leading to fears that this outstanding album will be lost amongst many other similar genre releases, hopefully not as it deserves unlimited attention. It is a tremendous release bulging with stunning musicianship, impressive songwriting and intelligent creativity. It also suggests that one day the band will make your new favourite melodic death metal album.

RingMaster 10/02/2012 Registered & Protected


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When Giants Collide – No One Is Safe

UK metalers When Giants Collide have not just made their debut with a release that is powerful and ferocious but one that leaves their audience sprawled on the floor as empty husks from their sonic onslaught. No One Is Safe is a very apt title and fair warning for the demanding series of violations within the EP’s muscular walls.

The West Yorkshire quintet, originally formed in 2008, really started to put their stamp upon UK metal when they re-energised with a new, and the current line-up in 2010. This point saw the band and sound really come together and things begin to gel and move distinctly forward for them. They began drawing in eager and strong attention through the sharing of stages with the likes of Martyr Defiled, Silent Screams, Panic Cell, Sworn Amongst, and Texas in July to name a few, their highly intense mix of destructive riffs, mind bending rhythms, and incisive technical metal creativity riling up audiences to great effect.

Immediately the EP opens it is obvious the ability of the musicians involved, the songs carefully crafted and strikingly presented to display the skill of those involved. When Giants Collide bring a fusion of influences from bands like Meshuggah, Sikth, Between the Buried and Me, and TesseracT, the band using these flavours in a collision (the band’s name really the perfect representation) with their own immense ideas to create precise yet bludgeoning music that cannot be denied. It comes with the intent of attaching to and equally numbing and mesmerising the senses.

First track ‘Wasteland’ eases itself in with simplistic crystalline guitar melodies and an air of impending menace. The acidic melodies persist as intrusive riffs demand attention combining into a partly hypnotic and partly abusive maelstrom of creativity. The guitars of William Luke Downing and Rory Cavanagh pierce and splinter within the ear into testing intimidating aggression and mesmeric sparkling melodies. Powered by the impressive drumming of Damian Clarke and the growling bestial lines of bassist Anthony Green the song erupts and expands like a living beast, breathing and throbbing with an eager pulse.

Every song within the EP warrants that description, such as the antagonistic ‘Codename 47’, a track that feels like it is examining and judging ones limits before unleashing the stunning and challenging ‘Defcon ‘ to consume and eat away all defences before its insatiable heavy sound. As with every track, as harsh and full of violate intent as they are the band temper them wonderfully with their technical and melodic interplay. Beautifully blended it is almost as if the songs have a cannibalistic quality, the intensity and the fierce side of the sound wanting to consume and feast upon the melodic and technical progressive like grooves and those cleaner blistering elements wanting to slice apart the heavy artillery of the band. It all combines into an impressive and constantly intriguing experience with ‘Balboa’ and ‘Swansong’ matching and completing a fine release.

Throughout No One Is Safe vocalist Scott Jenkins growls and spews lyrics as if his throat is in dispute with his voice, bile coated and verging on inhuman his harsh delivery enhances and burdens each track. Many bands seem to have gone this way whether by choice only they know but certainly with When Giants Collide the lack of variety within Jenkin’s delivery does hinder at times. He is a strong vocalist and at times his ‘cruel’ delivery is perfect but in other moments as the bands melodic sway exudes out, a shift in attack or variation in tone feels needed.

This does not stop No One Is Safe being a more than fine debut and though the band need a little more individuality to their music to really stand out one can only anticipate that it will be a certainty in the future of When Giants Collide.

RingMaster 10/02/2012 Registered & Protected


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