Thy Listless Heart has crafted an album that’s an always-emotive journey through loss, love, pain, and perseverance that never loses its way.

Release date: November 18, 2022 | Hammerheart Records | Facebook | Instagram | Buy/Stream

It has been a while since the doom genre touched me emotionally. It seems that a lot of the genre has been gently gliding toward harsher sounds, and with so many great death doom bands out there, why not? That does make bands such as Warning and Mourning Beloveth stand out even more, since there are not many acts taking the mantle of emotive and atmospheric doom. When I first noticed Thy Listless Heart I was very quickly dumbstruck, not only by how much I loved the songs but also at my realization that I have missed this sound so very much. Once I was able to listen to the album in full, this was all I listened to for days on end. I was absorbing every moment, lyric, and feeling that band mastermind and sole member Simon Bibby was stirring up inside me. I’d not felt the like about a doom record since Warning’s Watching From a Distance.

Doom has always been a genre where I embraced clean, soaring vocals – along with traditional and power-leaning bands – in the metal sphere. It seems like the appropriate approach in a setting like doom, and in the case of Thy Listless Heart, it is 100% the correct fit. The fact that Bibby does pretty much everything on this record aside from drums and woodwinds makes the fact that the vocals are the standout element even more impressive. Along with the technical capabilities heard here, such as his range and ability to play with textures to match the song, it’s his emotive capacity that serves this album at every turn. “The Precipice” is a plea for those considering taking their own life to share their grief and step back from this ideation. This is the cornerstone of the album in many ways. This is a doctorate-level thesis of songwriting, with dynamic moments that give so much weight to the song and the impacts of the lyrics are felt stronger because of it.

Pilgrims, while it wears certain influences on its sleeve, such as My Dying Bride, is a record that feels both fresh and familiar. This is a great spot to be in for an act such as Thy Listless Heart, as it makes it easy to find an audience and at the same time breathes new life into a seemingly dormant space. As fresh as this record feels in many ways it also feels like wrapping yourself in a blanket of nostalgia. It’s comforting. The pathos that is woven throughout the album’s runtime may at times be offputting to some, as this record isn’t showing any restraint in this aspect. These songs are ideas and feelings laid bare. “Yearning” is a tale of loss and wanting that, for all of its passion, loses none of its sincerity. This is truly one of the album’s greatest accomplishments. Without this evenhanded approach, Pilgrims would very quickly fall off of its own precipice, but it never does.

Along with the emotional and lyrical balance, the performances, production, and album construction are also incredibly mature. The album is around 45 minutes in total, and for a record that is a slow, lurching parade of emotions, this feels long enough to establish the mood and get the point across without being cumbersome to listen to. In fact, that’s probably why I have listened to this record so much in the past month. The melodicism, balance, and runtime make this record one that’s enjoyable from start to finish and doesn’t stall at any point. “The Search for Meaning” – the album’s closer – is just under 15 minutes and uses every part of the album up until that point and even that song doesn’t feel like labor to hear. There are simply no bad parts to Pilgrims on The Path of No Return.

When it comes to debuts or new bands, the past few years have had no shortage of great acts popping up in every genre. While it’s easy for us writers, especially at this point in the year, to think about the past 12 months and call things ‘best of the year’ and so on and so forth, Thy Listless Heart certainly qualifies as one of the best new doom acts of the year, and Pilgrims for my money is THE BEST doom album of 2022. I feel like this band is much more special than just relegating it to an AOTY list. Simon Bibby has created a vehicle to express longing, hope, and perseverance in an incredibly visceral way, and in a way that I haven’t heard in much longer than a year. This album addresses very real emotions and the delivery of these ideas is painfully sincere at times. Musically it’s a cohesive smattering of ideas that employs just the right amount of instruments and compositional approaches that constantly serves the lyrics. I don’t know what more you can ask of an artist. Pilgrims on the Path of No Return will stay with me for a long, long time.

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