Promising Raw Folkish Unblack - 64%
I had almost begun to give up on some of the more underground (and I speak in relative terms here) "raw unblack metal" until I heard this little unknown band. After hearing the half-dead croaking of the latest stalwarts of bedroom black metal, I was left shaking my dead. But this Pilgrimage band shows some promise - it's far from perfect, it needs lots of work, but the seed is planted and if it gets a little help with production, this band could really grow into something.
Taking a major cue from USBM act Judas Iscariot (a personal favorite of mine back in the day), Pilgrimage plays primitive black metal with an atmospheric touch. The music is a bit clumsy like earlier Judas Iscariot, with the gurgling vocals brought to the forefront of the music. Guitars are tinny streams of barbed-wire noise in the background, and...well, if you're a fan of this kind of music, then no doubt you know the drill by now.
These aspects may not sound enticing, but give the album a listen and it'll grow on you. The vocals are pushed way too far to the front at times, but the primitive rasps sound fantastic over this kind of music. Cold, nasty, primitive.
Musically, the album can become a bit patchy - "Do Hlbin Lesa" is a real flawless standout to me, with its atmospheric guitars, Abdijah-like drumming, and pure primitive beauty. But then you have tracks like "Metallum Atrum Exaltatum Et Pium", whose goofy Eastern folk melodies and corny bass lines stand out like a huge zit in the middle of the album. Sometimes, the drumming really takes on the "turn-signal" sound of old Darkthrone, and unless this is your thing, it can get lost behind the guitars and loud vocals. But then again, you hear a track like "Z Prachu Zeme" come ripping through the speakers and the album begins to grow on you like ancient forest moss.
On certain tracks, the production really seems to vary. One track will be tinny-sounding as hell, another will be fairly clear sounding and well-produced - all this makes for an uneven listen. But again, it comes down to the simple fact that if primitive black metal is your thing, Pilgrimage is really promising. The band knows the sound they want, and isn't afraid to explore within it either.
I don't know about you, but I'll be keeping my eye on this band.
- thejoker, August 22nd, 2011