The year is coming to a close, but I’m still listening to new albums that deserve coverage. The first is the new record from Thy Listless Heart, called Pilgrims on the Path of No Return. This sprawling record released on November 18th through Hammerheart Records.
Thy Listless Heart is one man, Simon Bibby. He handles pretty much everything here, from vocals to instruments. You will hear Ella Zlotos on backing vocals, low whistle, recorders, and uilleann pipes, as well. Simon was the bassist and guitarist for thrash metal band Seventh Angel years ago. This album is much different than that, though.
Instead of thrash, this record offers a grand doom metal sound, but even that is deceptive. Yes, the downtempo sadness of doom is the foundation here, but much of this album is atmospheric and ambient. Yes, there are plenty of guitars and riffs, but there are sweeping, lavish segments of texture and glory, too. Simon describes his doom sound as containing elements of Dead Can Dance, which obviously garnered my attention, but I think it’s more than that Gothic folk style. This album has darkened cinema and mighty choruses running through all the mournful haziness. The album isn’t afraid to shift gears quite often.
I have to say that I love the lyrics, too. Pilgrims is a journey towards destiny, but focuses more on the sorrow and suffering that we experience along the way. Some of it is pretty abstract, and some of it is pretty on the nose. All of the lyrics are poetic and beautifully wrought.
Simon performs these lyrics wonderfully, too. I really, really like his vocals. He has a commanding, yet vulnerable presence, which works perfectly for this style. Dare I say that many of his choruses and even verses are catchy? Doom isn’t typically catchy, but I find myself singing this album often.
Pilgrims has seven tracks and runs about 45 minutes. For my money, the album does not have a better half. It is consistent and thoroughly and passionately created all the way through. The opener “As the Light Fades” is a heavy and satisfying song with rich lyrics and great vocal harmonies. The next two tracks are the singles, “Precipice” and “Yearning”. I love them both, the former being a Gothic and grey beauty with a reeling chorus that I like. The latter is more sorrowful and human to my ears. I love the pipes on this one and the hovering atmosphere.
Speaking of atmosphere, one of my favorite songs on the record comes next. “When the Spirit Departs the Body” is pure haunting melody. It floats with such meaningful grace, and it will pull at the strings of your heart. I like how Simon follows it with the heavy “Confessions” with shadowy spoken word and some of the best guitars on the album. Yet, right after that, Simon grants us another melodic work, this one being a folk ballad with a sort of duet between Simon and Ella. It is absolutely gorgeous.
Finally, the epic closer arrives. “The Search for Meaning” does not disappoint in its 14-minute runtime, with nuance meeting heaviness with class and elegance. It transitions and weaves its way forward which stunning clarity of vision, and the lyrics are some of the best on the record. I love the chaotic haze that closes the album with unfiltered humanity and desire.
Thy Listless Heart has been on my list for a couple months; I wasn’t sure I would get to it this year. Pilgrims on the Path of No Return, however, has proven itself a worthy, spellbinding, and rich addition to an excellent music year. I honestly can’t get enough right now.
Find Thy Listless Heart online: