Stoned Jesus - Pilgrims review

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Band: Stoned Jesus
Album: Pilgrims
Release date: September 2018

01. Excited
02. Thessalia
03. Distant Light
04. Feel
05. Hands Resist Him
06. Water Me
07. Apathy

You may know Stoned Jesus as that band who plays that "I'm The Mountain" song you found on YouTube. Even my non-metalhead friends know that song, so Stoned Jesus are obviously mainstream. But here on their 4th album, they try to expand their sound a bit from the usual stoner rock.

Stoned Jesus is indeed one of the most successful of the stoner rock bands to come in the last decade. Besides the popularity of "I'm The Mountain", they've managed to tour extensively in the last few years and even score near-headlining slots on festivals. They were the headliners when I saw them live, and before they played their obvious encore, they played O-Zone's "Dragostea Din Tei" first. This has nothing to do with the review, but I needed to tell you that. So now back to the relevant stuff. Pilgrims is Stoned Jesus's debut on Napalm Records, so you'd expect they'd play it a bit more safe, but instead Pilgrims might be their most divisive album yet.

When your most famous song is over 10 minutes long, it's quite likely that your music requires some patience, and, indeed, the songs on Pilgrims are never in a hurry to get anywhere. This is especially true for the longer tracks, and even if none of them are crossing the 10-minute mark, they're still slow builders. The extreme of this is "Distant Light", which only ever reaches a climax when there's one minute left. While the rest of the songs aren't really on that level, there's certainly a lot more build-up than release on Pilgrims. And some of the times those releases don't feel as satisfying as they should. Sometimes they do.

A few more different sounds other than the usual stoner rock manage to find their way in, from post-rock and prog rock to the one that shocked folks most: grunge. The latter made "Thessalia" as divisive as it was, as many felt that the vocals were especially odd, and indeed they're a bit hard to get used to, but it's a direction I hope they will explore more in the future if they manage to make it sound less awkward. Speaking of awkward, I feel like my immersion has been broken more than once by some guitar parts, like in the intro of "Distant Light" or "Feel". And if you've gotten used to the vocals, every awkward part previously mentioned is more than made up for in "Hands Resist Him" and "Water Me". But even with the cool bassline in "Apathy", the climax of "Water Me" and the chorus of "Thessalia", moments where I think "this sounds awkward" instead of "this sounds cool" are still dangerously many.

Overall, Pilgrims seems like a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, the band being signed to a big label, the production and the sound is a lot warmer and pristine; even though a lot of the fuzz is missing, Stoned Jesus has never been a band to put that much emphasis on it, instead emphasizing more progressive arrangements. Such is the case here as well, but even with their more adventurous sounds, Pilgrims still feels both like it doesn't have enough happening and like the atmosphere breaks immersion a few times. It's not a disaster, but it just leaves me blue-balled more than I'd think it would.

Give it a go anyway.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 6
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 8
Production: 8


Written on 06.10.2018 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.

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