Pilgrim | ‘Misery Wizard’
It has been a full ten years since the hulking barge of doom that was Reverend Bizarre’s ‘In the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend’ hit the dank, foul waterways of the underground.
The ripples are still being felt as strongly today as ever.
While a certain amount of hero worship is allowed from time to time there comes a point where one can’t help but wonder if the sense of adventure has become sacrificed in the spirit of remaining true. And in that same spirit the actual definition of what being true means is brought into question.
Pilgrim are the latest in a long line that stretches into the unseeable distance in either direction, armed with six songs of doomed-out metal meanderings and the lofty hopes of hacking and slaying their way to the top of the pile.
With the pretty dire title of ‘Misery Wizard’ their album probably has about as much of a chance as anyone else currently out there, too. While their efforts are commendable enough there isn’t a whole lot to set them apart from the hungry pack.
Riff-wise the whole shebang will be familiar to anyone who has been keeping even half an eye on the doom underground over the past decade.
But if they have an ace up their sleeve it is in their frontman who goes by the appropriate handle of The Wizard. He has a knack for a melody, and one that generally lifts these otherwise solid-if-ordinary works above the mire.
Take opener ‘Astaroth’ as a prime example. The riffs swing in in familiar fashion; gungy yet clear guitars and a beefy bass cradled by a robust and dominant drum section, sounding strong and forceful and for all the world like every other Reverend Bizarre rip-off on the go.
Luckily it is saved from the scrapheap by a pretty electric vocal performance. Passionate and powerful, The Wizard single-handedly turns the track into something worth talking about.
However in places his performance seems to slip out of focus. ‘Masters of the Sky’ pounds along as slow and as heavy as anything. Familiar as anything, too. The same sense of urgency he displayed on ‘Astaroth’ is badly needed here to take the song up a gear but instead he just kind of bellows along monotonously, like a not quite as boring Om.
Things are dragged back to life further on with the more uptempo ‘Adventurer’. Nothing original as such but here we see The Wizard and his cohorts- drummer Splinterfist, Slayer of Man and bassist Count Elric the Soothsayer!- take their cues from the considerably less plundered vault of their countrymen, Orodruin.
Catchy and rocking this one is a winner, possibly only for the mere fact that Orodruin have been deathly quiet for the past few years and there is a hunger brewing for new material from their quarter.
The artwork is pretty striking and comes courtesy of our own Paul McCarroll. We get a gruesomely painted cast of what can only be described as the ugliest religious cult imaginable, their rather familiar-looking god dwarfed and looking discomfitted by the whole scenario as UFOs sneak around a distant, eyeballing mountain.
In terms of a traditional doom record in 2012 this album ticks all the boxes to a fault, but it is in doing so that the band do themselves something of a disservice. If they have the courage or inventiveness to step out of their masters’ shadows in future and explore their own ideas a bit more they may well grow into a force to be feared and respected.
Not bad but not exactly essential listening at this point.
3 / 5- Andrew Cunningham ::: 21/06//12