Just as a fair warning, I'm a massive, frothing Sleep fanboy. If you asked me to pick one album to wander the deserts with for all of eternity, it would be Sleep's Holy Mountain. As you might know, Om is the band that the rhythm section of Sleep went on to form after the band's breakup, and as tragic as Sleep becoming defunct may have been for me, it seems that an arguably better band has risen from Sleep's ashes.
I'm speaking as if this is a debut for Om, but it's not, as they have two previous full-lengths, Variations on a Theme and Conference of the Birds, which are respectively very well done. Pilgrimage takes their musical style another step forward, Al Cisneros's rumbling bumbling sludgy bass and Chris Hakius's determined, tribal beats on the drums. I can't describe the music in any other word than "groovy." The songs are pure motherfucking catchy-yet-thoughtful explorations, with a deeply philosophical and almost religious feel. The vocals do everything to support this, with Cisneros's chanting ranging from relaxing whispers to being firm and louder, similar to previous efforts.
However, the album isn't all sludge, the first track is a ten minute almost ambient, wonderful intro for the album, which from that point brings on the heavy stuff that will satisfy Sleep fans. It does return to this chill style later on in the album, leading you to feel as if you're in the eye of a storm. Largely the album feels like a follow up to At Giza, and lyrically it reflects this from what I can tell so far.
In the end, this album is fantastic, and the only major detractor is its relatively short length (a little over 30 minutes) which might not really be a negative, as it's better to have this than a version with filler. I think everyone who considers themselves a stoner metal fan should hear this, and I'm tempted to give it a perfect score but, albeit a very focused and well-executed effort, I feel like Om still can take it to another level in the future.