Is That a Marimba?

March 10, 2016


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Pelgrim is a metalcore/mathcore/djent and progressive metal band from Tilburg.  They were recommended to me by a fan who recently was blown away by their energetic live show with Textures.  They describe themselves as being fans of many genres who enjoy making heavy music, but are more so interested in just creating killer songs that many people can enjoy.  The band has enjoyed a few years of playing gigs and releasing an EP, but now it is time for their debut full length: Ephemora.  Call me a stamp tramp, but you can slap the MT logo of approval on this any day.

At base, Pelgrim is still very much a group in the mathcore vein.  I hear shades of Sikth, Periphery, and Torrential Downpour up and down the foundation of this album.  Vocals run the gamut from deathcore growls to post-hardcore shouting.  There are even some righteous gang vocals too.  Guitars favor those low-end grooves, but break them up with some killer leads and solos to remind us that these are capable musicians and not just a bunch of dudes who know how to tune down and use thicker strings.  Round this out with a killer rhythm section and you have a very technically proficient collective of people on your hands.

Things took a surprising turn on "Pull the Pin" with the sudden detour into smooth jazz.  Given, it's a move that has been increasingly employed over the past year or so by groups like WRVTH and Periphery, but it's still a welcome addition and excellent showcase of the group's flexibility and musicianship.  The band ups the ante once more with "Loophole," which smashes djenty chord progressions against a most excellent sax solo.  Again, it has been done, but Pelgrim certainly knows how to do it well.  It's a performance I would put up there with Sigh's "Out of the Grave" and Ketha's latest output.

But if you do want to hear something that is a bit more innovative that puts a trademark Pelgrim stamp on the album, you should check out "Eat the Hand that Feeds."  I've heard a lot of musical fusions over the years, but I can't think of a technical metal song that utilizes what I believe is a Marimba (or at least an equivalent synthesizer effect).  This may very well be the high point of Ephemora for me.  There is an awesome energy to this song that somehow becomes heavier with the addition of this traditionally un-metal instrument.  It's like an analog Born of Osiris.

All things said and done, Pelgrim is yet another group of talented, young musicians who are willing to take a tried-and-true style to new levels.  Not content to simply ape what has already been done, they merely use this as a jumping-off point to reach new territories.  They have already succeeded in creating an album that will be easily accepted by the djent and metalcore communities, but I have a feeling that if they continue to focus on pioneering fresh ideas they will have a whole lot more to offer the entire metal genre.  Stream the album in full below.