Pilgrim play trudging, down-tuned riffs, sparse beats and slow, spine-rending fills, reinforcing the notion that the heaviest metal doesn’t have to rely on blinding speed or blaring dissonance. Two years have passed since the band’s full-length debut, Misery Wizard, and in that time the Rhode Island trio has developed from a band with long, lumbering songs that mesmerized through repetition into an outfit capable of conjuring multiple shades of despair and doom.
Here, as on Misery Wizard, Pilgrim wear two of their primary inspirations — England’s Electric Wizard and Finland’s Reverend Bizarre — on their tattered cloaks. At the same time, they unabashedly reveal their love for role-playing games, especially Dungeons & Dragons, with lyrics about holy pilgrimages, battles for survival and the treasures that await those who triumph against adversity. On “Void Worship,” The Wizard — that’s how he’s credited in the liners— sings in a vibrato-laden voice about seeing “in the dark,” “dreaming of salvation” and touching “the white gate of freedom on the quest for the answer.” In “Master’s Chamber” his fantasy worship is even more direct: “In the master’s chamber I was turned to stone…/ He cast a spell upon me/… was the master real or was he a dream?”
For Pilgrim, however, vocals are just elements to paint stormy scenes, not the main ingredients. II: Void Worship is primarily about “the power of the riff,” and by combining rhythms as solid as gothic cathedrals with celestial atmospheres, Pilgrim create soundtracks that keep imaginations flowing. As enjoyable as the shorter songs are, it’s the epic numbers that best showcase Pilgrim as traveling minstrels in a land of danger and deceit.