Another nail in the coffin of the myth that girls can't rock, The Pilgrimage by Canadian noise-sludge-doom duo Mares of Thrace – whose members are both women – is a dark, sludge and heavy as it should be, and is bound to kick your ass from here and into the dark depths of hell.
Drawing on solid drum beats – often quite fast ones for sludge-doom (there are even some blastbeats every now and then, as in 'The Perpetrator' while other tracks like 'Act III: A Curse Falls on the House of David' are short fast and anchored more in the hardcore roots of sludge metal than in the doom metal roots) – and simple but crushing, and noise-infused, riffage, Mares of Thrace deliver ten dark and oppressive, yet quite compelling doom-laden tracks (on top, there is even a electro-noise track in the form of 'Triple B'). While there definitely is a sense of coldness and bleakness to the overall sound, Mares of Thrace's incorporation of a couple of slightly stoned out riffs and the above-mentioned dose of noise somehow prevents The Pilgrimage from coming across as being totally evil and misanthropic (this could of course just be because I find those elements interesting). The tracks on the album are neatly balanced in terms of accessibility and challenge; that is, mainstream listeners will find it 100% challenging, but experienced listeners of doom and sludge metal will probably find it quite accessible and appealing.
The overall atmosphere is, of course, dark, as the doom duo takes the listener through various passages and riffs – one darker than the other – and movements from melancholic and dark to aggressively heavy and dark, and back again (just check out a track like 'The Goat Thief'). On top of the heavy and aggressive drumming style and the doomy riffage, Thérèse Lanz' harsh vocal style further adds to the overall dark and creepily psychedelic atmosphere of the album. The production is organic and unpolished which suits the style well.
With their blend of noise rock, doom metal and sludge metal on this album, Mares of Thrace have created a work of darkness and oppression in the form of The Pilgrimage which balances accessibility and listener-challenging quite well. It is expressive and should appeal to any fan of harsher sludge-doom.
1. Act I: David Glimpses Bathsheba
2. The Pragmatist
3. The Gallwasp
4. The Perpetrator
5. Act II: Bathsheba's Reply to David
6. Triple B
7. The Goat Thief
8. Act III: A Curse Falls on the House of David
9. The Three-Legged Courtesan...
10. ...And the Bird Surgeon