Album Review: Satan's Pilgrims

Frankenstomp (Self-Released)

[SURFIN' NW] Working primarily with Northwest imprints for more than 20 years has still allowed for Satan's Pilgrims' grab bag of surf and garage instrumentals to attain a sort of cultish worldwide renown reserved for only a select few outfits. Despite the Portland quintet's hefty break near the turn of the millennium, recording for such a significant amount of time helped the band amass a backlog of missing or unreleased material swollen enough to fill out an album. The stubbornness of the genre, though, might make Frankenstomp a difficult listen for folks not utterly dedicated to these narrow confines.

Contrasting with the band's first foray into the studio after its hiatus, 2009's Psychsploitation, which ramped up the Pilgrims' debt to psychedelia, Frankenstomp only occasionally slips into Technicolor vibes. On "Nowheresville," the band just gingerly dips into the exploitation genre, quickly emerging as a pretty traditional surf troupe on the following track. A menacing rendition of "Haunted House of Rock," originally from 1995's Soul Pilgrim, does hint at largely unrealized potential. But any enduring fan hasn't stuck around for six full-lengths' worth of Satan's Pilgrims to be easily worn out by a steely rhythm section and three guitars wending their way around each other.

So, while Frankenstomp might serve to excavate a handful of once-rare moments from the Pilgrims' past, the compilation seems like a pronouncement from the band about its legacy—and maybe a comment on surf only being as vital as the contemporary players pursuing its perfection. 

SEE IT: Satan's Pilgrims play the Eagles Lodge, 4904 SE Hawthorne Blvd., with the Wanna Be-52's and Lagoon Squad, on Friday, May 29. 9 pm. $10 day of show, $8 with food donation. 21+.

WWeek 2015

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.