CD Review: Satan’s Pilgrims “Psychsploitation”

It was back in 1992 that the band Satan’s Pilgrims was formed in Portland, Oregon. In the time since then, the band has created many releases, including a “Best Of” release.

Satan’s Pilgrims recently went back into the studio to create the 2009 release Psychsploitation. With this new album, the quintet has created a release of instrumental rock that contains thirteen tracks. Once again, Satan’s Pilgrims takes many influences from bands like The Ventures, The Wailers and many other garage bands and surf-rock bands and creates some of the best instrumental rock from any rock band in the United States today.

When creating their retro sound, Satan’s Pilgrims (who are Dave Pilgrim on guitar, sitar, organ, percussion; Scott Pilgrim on electric guitar; John Pilgrim on electric bass; Bobby Pilgrim on electric guitar; and Ted Pilgrim on drums) use guitars and other instruments that were used back forty years ago and are basically considered out of date. These instruments help the band achieve the exact sound they are looking for.

One specific instrument used on Psychsploitation by Satan’s Pilgrims that gives their music its dated quality is the electric sitar played by Dave Pilgrim. Nothing brings to mind the time of the sixties faster than hearing the music produced by a sitar, an instrument that had a very short popularity because of the music that the instrument produces. Pilgrim uses the electric sitar on the track “In The Past,” one of the few cover tunes on the release. The song was originally recorded and released by the band We The People in 1966. Satan’s Pilgrims has taken this song and has done an instrumental version on their newest release.

Psychsploitation by Satan’s Pilgrims has as much to do with the production that helped make the release as it does the writing and song selection. Eric Hedford did one hell of a job on the production and engineering side of the release for the music on the album. The music sounds and feels like it was recorded in the late sixties. There is plenty of echo and reverb on the guitars to bring to mind production quality of recording sessions from forty years ago.

Effects that are no longer used with any regularity by today’s producers and engineers are part of the reason that this release has that dated quality, and rightfully so. Along with reverb and echo, one major effect put to use for this release is backward masking. The one guitar on the song “Dilation” was created with a modern take on the backward masking effect. While other effects are put to use “aging” the release, this audio effect on “Dilation” gives Psychsploitation its first real retro feel.

Along with effects, there is also the way the instruments were processed to create specific qualities to their sounds that give even more character to the music on the release and make it feel as authentic as anything that was actually recorded back in the sixties.

The feel of the late sixties is everywhere on Psychsploitation. The packaging has an authentic retro style to it. The paisley effect on the back cover band picture has a dated quality to it, as does the cartoon in the CD tray. It would be difficult at best to mistake what motif the band was going for when they put together the packaging for the release.

Had Psychsploitation by Satan’s Pilgrims been produced back in the late sixties, the album would have fit in with the rest of the album releases at the time just fine. As it is, the release is a quality production that has brought together many different elements to create the perfect retro album by a modern-day band that has done a wonderful job in presenting a release that is both visually and musically as close as you can get today to actual releases from the late sixties. Psychsploitation by Satan’s Pilgrims is a classic retro release by a modern-day band.

To find out more about Satan’s Pilgrims, check out their website at www.satans-pilgrims.com. The band can also be found on MySpace.