For the well-informed doom metal fan, choosing an appropriately listless and depressive soundtrack for the gloomiest of moods usually means pulling an album from the catalog of bands like St. Vitus, Reverend Bizarre, or Lord Vicar. Rhode Island's Pilgrim, self-described "Disciples of True Doom", look to add their name to such a lamentative list with their debut album Misery Wizard. Crushing, ponderous riffs and a laggardly pace dominate the album, but Pilgrim conjures up a few surprises to keep listeners from succumbing to an otherwise overwhelming sense of despair.
The first of these surprises is more of a tease, as Misery Wizard's lead-off track "Astaroth" is a an up-tempoed (for doom metal) number with very catchy riffs. The guitar sound possesses plenty of the requisite fuzziness and more than a hint of a Black Sabbath influence. The vocals, when they finally appear, arrive in the form of distorted chants that eventually give way to mainman The Wizard's intonations. Consistently set back in the mix, The Wizard's voice isn't particularly strong and is rather limited in range but his roughened style fits nicely into Pilgrim's formula.
"Astaroth" serves as a tease to listeners because its Pentagram-like groove is instantly discarded when the oppressive title track lumbers forth. The tempo of "Misery Wizard" is agonizingly slow, with the lazy riffs and drawn out vocals emphasizing the nearly stalled pace. A lackadaisical solo dominates the latter moments of the song and quickens the momentum ever so slightly, but this song - along with "Masters of the Sky" and "Forsaken Man" - are crushingly slow dirges designed for the most stalwart of funerary doom fans. Thankfully that latter half of "Quest", where The Wizard unleashes a rather enjoyable bluesy Black Sabbath run and drummer Krolg Splinterfist (Dwarven chieftain, perhaps?) flails about with reckless abandon, livens the mood and results in another of Misery Wizard's standout moments. "Adventurer" is likewise a touch of fresh air with its uptempo pace and infectious groove. The Wizard gets a little innovative on this track, briefly introducing a death metal roar to his vocal style and kicking out a few nice guitar runs.
A handful of traditional groove-inspired moments aside, Misery Wizard is a plodding foray into the cavernous depths of exceedingly slow doom. If observing glacial advancement and watching paint dry can be counted among your most favorite hobbies, then Pilgrim's debut release will definitely not disappoint.
|4||Masters of the Sky||11:50|