Walk Back Pilgrim is a band with an unusual name, although, if we take into account where they come from, that might not sound as weird as it looks like. This band is the creation of three minds emerging from the city of A Coruña, in the province of the same name, where Santiago de Compostela is located too. Yes, you know, that place where a lot of pilgrims end up after walking for miles, although (at least in most of the cases) they do it onwards.
No matter what way do those pilgrims walk, if I’m not wrong, the band was created around 2014/2015 and, according to their label, they released a 2 track digital demo (which I missed at that time but you can find on their Bandcamp profile), and after that they started working on their first full-length, which was released in past January by a very interesting but still quite unknown label from the city of Barcelona called Bestiarie Records.
That first album, entitled ‘Erra’, does definitely not need a lot of listens to give you a very clear and precise picture of what Walk Back Pilgrim want to achieve and where do their influences come from. Their label actually states it very clear with three words: Birmigham Industrial Sound. So, if you remember when some underground Hardcore kids (now well known and respected musicians/noisemongers) such as Justin Broadrick and Mick Harris started playing some heavier and more industrialised tunes with Head of David (and later Godflesh) or Scorn, you definitely know what we’re speaking about.
The core of Walk Back Pilgrim’s sound is actually pretty accurately defined by naming those bands, with a combination of mechanical and monotonous rythms basically defined by the pounding bass and programmed drums, gloomy ambiences and noisy soundscapes generated through open guitar chords, feedback, digital layers and noise landscapes; all in all, reproducing the kind of atmosphere one could think off to sketch our increasingly technologically and industrialized oriented societies and the souless entities wandering them.
One of the main differences I see between these guys and their main influences though would in the effect the kind of atmospheres and feelings they manage has on the listener, especially if we compare them with Godflesh, as Walk Back Pilgrim mostly keep a non-aggressive tone all along the record, focusing on a more minimalistic and depressing kind of ambience. Especially if we focus on the the vocal parts, as they use clean lines with a very open, cold and atmospheric tone. On «Neuromancer», the track opening side B of the vinyl, which is their heaviest and most extreme composition on ‘Erra’, they use some more dehumanized kind of spoken vocals, giving the track a very robotic aspect which suites it’s mechanical flow, although they still keep a non-violent approach. The highest level of intensity actually comes in «Find Meat At Bones» through a loop of beats on top of which disonant arpeggios blow out your brain while Nando screams for sin.
Although I must admit that in the end what really caught my attention from these guys was not their originality or personality writing songs, which are nonetheless quite good and entrancing but still very much in debt of their sonic masters; the biggest accomplishment of ‘Erra’ is without any doubt how well they’ve managed to capture those sounds, essence and feelings, starting by their performance, which is flawless (especially when it comes to the guitars and bass), full of that humanity their music seems to be devoid of and absolutely hypnotic, and ending by the amazing production the record counts with. They did everything (recording, mixing and mastering) at Santa Cruz Recording studio, where their label mates Piwi Bizarre Tech recorded their last album too, and honestly, the result is so amazing that every time I spin the vinyl I can do nothing else but rejoice in how perfectly surrounding and solid their songs sound, how awesomely balanced do melodies and crushing riffs end up finding each other, how alive and warm those programmed drums and effects become when they float out of the speaker.
All in all, a very good and strong acomplishment for these guys, who promise to bring even better things in their future endeavors. And probably one of the very few recordings that still distills the true Industrial spirit, so it’s quite surprising not to see them mentioned a lot more now that Godflesh is in every hyped mouth.
Gia Thanatos is a webzine dedicated to music for the apocalyptic times. No matter the scene or genre it comes from, and mainly chosen according to its author's taste.