Misery Wizard

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Some five years after the symbolic funeral of Finnish doom puritans, Reverend Bizarre, an heir apparent has reared its head in the form of Rhode Island's similarly doleful and sluggish Pilgrim. Need proof? Then start with amusing stage names like Count Elric the Soothsayer, the Wizard, and Krolg Splinterfist, Slayer of Man (Reverend Bizarre of course consisted of Albert Witchfinder, Peter Vicar, and the Earl of Void), if the medieval style cover art doesn't do the trick first. No, the new trio's first full-length endeavor, 2012's Misery Wizard, may not praise the doom gods on quite the same epic scale of hubris as the works of their defunct Scandinavian forefathers (whose EPs ran longer than most LPs and packed songs that commonly broke the 20-minute barrier), but the overall sonic aesthetic is certainly recognizable through and through. We're talking long-lingering, bong-ringing power chords here; seismic drumbeats and crashing cymbals seemingly splayed miles apart; and vibrato-laden vocals bordering on the operatic that, all in all, would probably amount to quite the con job were it not for Pilgrim's redoubtable talents for repurposing them in Reverend Bizarre's absence. This album's title track, in particular, sets a decadently majestic high-water mark, closely followed by further standouts such as "Masters of the Sky" (which seriously has more sustain than Nigel Tufnel!) and "Adventurer" (which goes to pains to show that Pilgrim can find second gear when they actually want to). And since doom is ultimately about tradition -- the most traditional branch in heavy metal's family tree, technically the very trunk, actually -- you can only complain so much about Pilgrim's familiar sound without railing against all those that came before them. Bottom line, Misery Wizard is 2012's first borderline essential doom release.

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