Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Satan’s Pilgrims

Satan’s Pilgrims
Official Site
Plymouth Rock, Musick Recordings 2004
Psychsploitation, Sp Records 2009

According to their official Facebook page, Satan’s Pilgrims formed in 1992 over a (quote) “series of house parties hosted by the members of the band” in Portland, Oregon. Basing their name on the exploitation film Satan’s Sadists, the Pilgrims soon became an official group and rocked wherever they performed.

Dude, I'm pretty sure something's wrong with that tripod...

The Pilgrims themselves say that the best album of theirs for horror fans to check out is Creature Feature. However, as said album is now long out of print, they recommend Plymouth Rock (which includes selections from Creature Feature)).) Said “best of” album is a two disc compilation of their greatest songs, along with plenty of rare and previously unreleased goodies. There’s even some video content (due to the use of enhanced CDs), but technical issues kept me from viewing it at this time. Apparently, it generated so much interest in the group that they reanimated from their hiatus in 2000 and have been performing ever since!

Disc 1 begins with the sounds of dragging chains and moving crates opens that open “Vampiro.” The drums and fast, pounding guitars (with one particularly reverby) of this tune are loosely based on the theme from the 60’s Batman show starring Adam West and Burt Ward. Similarly, cymbals and speedy drums start things off in “Que Honda?” and are backed by guitars that soon take the center stage. Some light wordless male vocals appear later, which are barely audible under guitar work. A “Latin”-sounding buildup takes use to the reverb ending.

“Plymouth Rock” opens with reverb guitar work and a steady drum beat, both of which speed up a bit when the cymbals are added in. There’s a very classic surf feel to this. “Super Stock” use dual reverbing guitars over percussion to make for an interesting sound. I can easily imagine cruising along in a stock car to this.

“Grave-Up” starts with a spooky voice mentioning the title, with equally spooky organs that start up with guitars and drums. It slows down to a somewhat bouncy feel at some points, but it never seems too much of a contrast. The guitars really start wailing just under 2 minutes in, but go back to normal soon enough for the end. The opening drums of “La Cazuella” give way for reverbing guitar and its more traditional sounding counterpart. The exotica favorite, the guiro, appears as well. There’s an appropriately Latin feel to this segment and medium guitars play throughout. I think I detect some claves as well. Everything slows down to just guitars at the end.

“The Godfather” is a surf cover of the theme to The Godfather (of course). The guitars and drums are fast-paced at first, then they slow down and handclap-sounding drum beats give things an extra Italian feel. But as you’ve likely guessed, things pick up again not long after.

“Boss BSA” starts with fast drums and guitars and soon reverb is heard. It gets extra fast at times, although there’s a softish reverb solo about 2:30 minutes in. Drums quickly join them and things get a bit faster (but are still soft) and don’t slow down until the final segment.

“Peter Lorre” is named for the legendary horror actor and nicely starts things with “Toccata and Fugue in D minor” on the organ, followed by creepy, rocking guitars and percussion at breakneck speed. There are some really rocking guitar riffs about 1:30 minutes in and the cymbals get quite a workout here. There are also some light touches, perhaps a reference to Lorre’s humorous portrayal of some of his roles.

Soft, eerie violin music takes us in “Creature Feature,” then crackles and pops take us to guitars and laserblast-like reverb appears with the drums. It’s a mostly foreboding sound, but there are the occasional light guitar riffs. I love the wailing guitars over drums that play just before the four minute mark.

Despite the name, “Shit Sandwich” is actually quite good. Drums, maracas and guitars with odd sounding reverb make this a rather unique track. The band chants the title at points. Reverb punctuates certain points and a tambourine briefly appears later. Watch out for the maracas at the fake ending, as the guitars return for the real deal.

“Chi Chi” uses light, medium guitars to open and they get just a touch louder when the percussion joins in. It’s peaceful, but energetic. It soon picks up with a Latin sound and clap-like drumming, but goes back to the original style soon enough. The single opening guitar “Soul Pilgrim” of is soon joined by the organ and tambourine, which foreshadows the sound of their Psychsploitation album. Some cymbals and drums appear as well and later to add to the beat, but this is really the organ’s song.

In “Badge Of Honor,” reverb guitars go fast and the backing percussion is even faster. There’s also lots of (thankfully) fake endings in it. Similarly, fast drums lead to equally fast guitars in “Surf Lyre,” although the guitar work is more varied. It’s another classic-sounding song…not that I’m complaining, mind you. In fact, I really love the guitar work here.

Soft, reverbing guitar cords increase in volume for the opening of “The Lonely Pilgrim.” Dual guitars and the sound of waves also heard here as well. It has a very lonely feel, and it’s hard to tell if it’s using cords or soft male sighing at times. “Ragtop” begins with fast-paced drums and cymbals, which seem even faster due to last song. Guitars join in, which are soon followed by reverb and organ. The guitars pick up at es (with really wailing sound at one point) as well and things really pick up towards the organ-filled ending.

High pitched guitars open for fast percussion on “Scorpio 6.” The organ drops in for a spell and vanishes as quickly as it appeared a few times, which adds to the spy-surf feel. Everything picks up for the big finish, which makes for a great way to close the disc.

Disc 2 starts with “Soul Creepin’.” Its opening steady percussion intros the light guitars and somewhat louder organ work. Both the guitars and organ pick up for a fast paced, rocking sound that is soon joined by cymbals, although it slows down somewhat for end.

“Haunted House Of Rock” starts with lightning sound effects and oddly reverbing guitar work thats leads to heavy percussion and another, wailing guitar. It’s all very spooky and there are more lightning effects later. I know lightning technically doesn’t make a sound when it first strikes, but I swear that’s what the effect is supposed to be.

Speedy, light drums and fast, wailing guitars give “The Outsider” a much lighter hearted feel than the title would have you expect. There’s some crazy good guitar work here, along with some cymbals and the occasional harmonica! Fast percussion and guitars open “Seaside Run.” Said guitars soon reverb up a storm against the cymbals and there’s some great drumming as well.

Guitars, drums and the organ form “Hot Coco,” which is a medium speed song. After a fake end, the drums briefly take over and then the others return. The organ makes it seem like the song is going to end at one point, but that’s also just a trick. Heavier-sounding fast guitars and percussion start “If You Wanna.” Lightish organ work appears at times, but the starting instruments own this for the most part.

“Harem Nocturne” starts with fast drums and loud, heavy reverb guitars, but said guitars tone it down a notch or two as the cymbals join in. Some bells appear when things really get fast and furious as well.

Medium guitars open “Spanish Head” and soon the reverbing starts. The percussion is fast in this, as it tends to be for most songs by the group, which adds to the track’s great sense of power and speed. The lightish guitars that start “The Hondell” are backed by fast cymbals and drums. There some kind of wooden percussion used here, followed by drum beats that remind the listener of clapping hands.

“Escape/Psychedelic Venture” comes from a Ventures tribute compilation. The opening slow percussion speeds up and fast guitars quickly join in. It eventually slows down with the organ for an urgent feel, then speeds up with a sound that will bring footsteps to mind. That effect leaves eventually, but the speed sure doesn’t!

“Green Chili” has slow, heavy drums and guitars which give it a Spanish feel. Cymbals pop into the backbeat as well. It may be be slower than other tracks, but is never boring. The final track, “Black Boots & Bikes,” makes great use of fast ‘n heavy percussion plus fast guitars. There’s lots of fascinating variations and change-ups to the music, along with the sounds of revving motorcycles used at one point.

How cheeky!

The band’s most recent effort, Psychsploitation, feels so 70’s that I swear my carpeting started growing to shag length as I played it. It’s a concept album themed around exploitation movies, a close cousin to horror films. The cover looks exactly like an old (s)exploitation movie poster would. In fact, it’s easy to imagine that this is the soundtrack to some long lost Mantis in Lace-style film about a woman who goes on a killing spree after one bad LSD trip too many. Also..

Wait, I forgot to list the band members and what they played for the last album, didn’t I? Oh well, thank goodness they kept the same basic line-up (with a few additional instruments) for this:

John Pilgrim: Electric bass
Bobby Pilgrim: Electric guitar
Ted Pilgrim: Drums & percussion
Scott Pilgrim: Electric guitar percussion
Dave Pilgrim: Electric guitar, electric sitar, percussion & organ

“Dilation” opens with 70’s-sounding drumbeat followed by a “freak-out” sound effect, guitars and organ. The guitar builds up while more freaky sound effects play, then percussion and more guitars join in. Tambourines (or fast cymbals) and still more freaky sounds join the beat. There’s cool drum work at end plus one final sound effect.

W. Proctor’s “In the Past” has a sitar join the guitars and drums for a unique surf sound. Magical sound effects or chimes, cymbals and clacking wood further add to its uniqueness. There’s an organ and gong as well, but the sitar and guitars are the stars of this show. A guitar and tambourine backed by organ and percussion form “Chestnut Trees and Bumblebees.” The organ gets quite a workout here and I love the main guitar riff.

“Tomorrow Night’s Mourning” starts with fast guitars that are soon joined by drums for a funky beat. You’d better believe the organ gets in on the action at times, as do cymbals. “Wylde Tymes” offers fast paced guitars and cymbals, and the guitar reverb put to good use here before the drums kick in. This definitely has wild feel, especially the guitar work about a minute into it.

Although arranged by Satan’s Pilgrims, “Kaleidoscope” was written by one J. Gordon. After an organ intro, tamborine and electric bass join in. There’s lots of organ variations here, with some light guitar work to boot. It gets rather dark and freaky at the end.

“Tracers (Of Love)” has reverbing, echoing opening guitar notes that are soon joined by drums and the ever-present organ. The chorus of “buh buh buh” by male and female vocalists singing one after the other is too 70’s for words. Really. We get an instrumental interlude with some light vibraphone work by Doug Smith before the vocals return. Said vocals were provided by Dave Pilgrim, Eric Hedford, Amy Faust, Jana Losey and Madison Christine.

“Night of the Face” starts with tinkling and sound effects, plus echoing female vocals by Amy Faust about seeing a face in the sky. Then we get more sound effects, silence and rocking guitars over drums and organ. The playing gets extremely wild and freaky towards the end, which consists of more sound effects.

“Colours of Your Mind” features guitars over steady, speedy drums & cymbals beat. Reverb gets plenty of use here and thing get pretty freaky with organ at one point. The odd-sounding (but cool) fast guitars of “Psycle Pswami” play over equally fast drums and a funky organ. Things get very rockin’ here and the organ does have a somewhat otherworldly feel to it.

“Rainy Day Green Stop Sign” has a surprisingly non-surf guitar opening and drums, but the surf sound soon appears. There’s a medium feel to this in terms of volume and speed. I could be wrong, but I think our old friend the sitar shows up in this as well. The organ certainly does, that’s for sure. Drums and the guitar get a lengthy segment to themselves near the end.

The drum opening “Psych-A-Go-Go (Psych Out!)” leads to fast guitars over drums and the organ. We’ve got wild organ melodies and guitar riffs aplenty here. Soft vocals by Dave Pilgrim, Eric Hedford, Amy Faust Jana Losey and Madison Christine chant “psycho” around two and a half minutes in. There’s a definite freak-out feel to this.

“10,000 Mirrors” is opened by a cowbell, tambourine and guitars. We hear a freaky sound effect, then guitars and percussion join in. Soon, more sound effects (that sound somewhat like screams) and the organ enter the mix. The drums get quite a workout; there’s a buildup and super freakout near the end, but things get much softer after it. The vocals hear were performed by Dave Pilgrim, Eric Hedford and Scott Pilgrim.

So whether you’re a long-time fan of Satan’s Pilgrims or if you’re just starting out, I definitely recommend that you grab both albums.

Special thanks to Satan’s Pilgrims for the review copies!

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