The second chapter in their aural adventure embracing wizards and warriors in a doom metal landscape, Pilgrim – II: Void Worship is a transfixing album of heavyweight persuasion and similar intensive sounds. The eight track highly anticipated continuation of the narrative and exploration bred in predecessor Misery Wizard, follows up the impressive entrance of US metallers Pilgrim with another potently formidable and richly impressive incitement of senses and imagination. Whether tales of magical lands and exploits of sword and sorcery ignite a hunger or like us just provides another lyrical colour to enjoy and move swiftly on from, there is no denying the hypnotic and darkly seductive persuasion of the band’s new album. Whether tempting with all the lures of a bewitched temptress or droning with a meditative persistence, Void Worship is a magnet hard to pull away from.
The band’s debut album rose up in 2012 to fan and critical acclaim, and alongside their exhausting live performances thrust Pilgrim under an intensive spotlight which bred the agitated eagerness for the band’s sophomore release. Between albums the Rhode Island band saw itself from a trio reduced to a duo last year, the departure of original bassist Count Elric the Soothsayer unable to defuse the creativity and drive of the remaining pair of drummer Krolg, Slayer of Man and guitarist/vocalist The Wizard who also took over bass duties for the new album. Released via Metal Blade Records, Void Worship is distinctly heavier with a harsher attitude to its intensity than its predecessor but equally stretches and investigates a richer melodic and sonic endeavour across its colourful lyrical and musical narratives, all within hypnotic shadow clad sceneries.
The opening Intro is an immediately engaging and mischievous beckoning, the instrumental clad in a villainous character which is cartoonish almost bordering pantomime but works perfectly within the dark hues of the piece. It’s coaxing flows straight into the instantly immense Master’s Chamber, riffs building walls of intensity within seconds and as quickly pierced by a probing and slightly concussive rhythmic enticement. Embracing its predecessor’s charisma into its lumbering gait and infectious intrigue the track prowls with a nefarious air and grace which is easy to instantly give submission to. The vocals of The Wizard are clean and similarly alluring, bringing a guiding light to the story and intimidating dark tones around him. It is a captivating ten minute entrance by the album, a potent experience which the release pushes deeper into thoughts and welcoming emotions with its next track.
The Paladin is soon swinging muscular hips to mesmeric guitar bred toxicity whilst the drums herd and cage the passions with a deliciously menacing revelry matched in stronger weight by hungry riffs. Veined by addiction crafting grooves and again strong vocal presentation, the track is prime Pilgrim; unfussy and direct but with plenty for varied keen ears, voracious imaginations, and passionate appetites to feast upon. The mouthwatering romp makes way for Arcane Sanctum, an instrumental crafted by singular guitar elegance within a melancholic ambience at first which slowly infuses oppressive sinews and broader stringed swipes across its emerging body. It is a track where the imagination is invited to cast and reveal its own twist of the album’s journey, beauty and menace in tandem for a skilfully imposing incitement.
A rawer caustic environment springs from the first breath of In the Presence of Evil, its rare air and abrasing touch dragging a rhythmic provocation across the senses to threaten and persuade like a predator of veteran prowess and knowledge in capturing its prey, which the song does with ease. Its thunderous steps come with a rhythmic swagger and sonic invention courted by searing flames as it engulfs the beleaguered and hungrily accepting imagination once more to push on the adventure.
The title track steps up next still immersing the listener in the cavernous dark reaches of the realm. A dirge bred oppression wraps ears with an almost funereal stance which is held at bay by the returning vocals whilst the weighty riffery and rhythmic bones of the track pin down the senses with a leviathan like intensity, stalking with every clawing stroke and punishing beat. It is an inescapable intrusion but one lifted by again vocals and the melodic acidity which permeates just as potently and expressively. The extensive encounter increases its suffocation the deeper into its soul you go entrapping all within its grasp for the following Dwarven March to unleash its similarly dramatic and laboured gait upon. There is a lighter glaze to the tone of the song’s sonic voice, the brief instrumental colouring the shadows before the closing encounter clouds the skies once again.
Away from Here twists thoughts and emotions around its similarly evolving premise and doom drenched soundscape, ensuring the listener is given one final lingering testing to bask and lose oneself in. It powerfully concludes a tremendously sculpted and presented spellbinding of senses and emotions. It is an unrelenting merciless encounter but one which is not afraid to expose its melodic and seductive side within a ravenous and tempestuous intensity. Pilgrim is shaping a raw and undiluted aspect to modern doom metal with plenty to appeal to the widest hungriest appetites.
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