Released: 2016, Self-released
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Where fellow South Carolinians Nile channel ancient Egypt, Greenville-based Enthean head farther North, to the forests and fjords of Norway for their Emperor-esque symphonic/progressive black metal.
The band's debut full-length boasts an In The Nightside Eclipse-like grandiosity and Prometheus-ish technical flair. But while the trio – at least on the album, they just added bassist Alex Rush – have obviously studied well at the school of Ihsahn, Samoth and company, there is an undercurrent of death metal viciousness here and an often brazen virtuosity in the performances that give Priests of Annihilation enough personality so as to not sound like a mere knock-off.
This is especially true as the album moves forward. The opening trio of tracks - “1054,” “Tones of Desecration” and the epic “Before You, I Am” - have the most decidedly Norwegian feel to them, with their opulent/atmospheric keyboard orchestration contrasting the furious riffing or mimicking the guitar lines, fusillade of drums and caterwauling – and occasionally, dramatically clean - vocals.
Majesty and scale a paramount in the early going, and while those elements certainly never disappear, they become less prominent as the album progresses or play serve-and-volley with the band's tech-death inclinations, which assert themselves with blindingly fast authority in the Origin/Krisiun-like bludgeon and shred of “Dysthnasia.”
Guitarist/vocalists Brian Kingsland and Adam Broome really let their picks and fingers fly here – whomever also handles the busy bass lines gets a quite a sweaty workout. “Ekpyrosis” boasts similarly fleet spider-walking guitar work to go along with Mitch Moore's mile-a-minute drumming. “Behold The Primordial” follows suit, but its more complex arrangement and drapery of synths bring the symphonic blackness back into the picture.
“Bring Forth The Raven” is a more even black/death hybrid with some added guitar pyro from Kingsland and Broome that sets the stage for the titanic closer “Invalesc de Profundis” where everything that came before is mashed into one delirious epic as the guys lay it all out there – even adding some bluesy soloing to the mix just because.
And its here where things are less derivative and more freewheeling that the band really shine. And as they grow more confident, hopefully there will be more of that to come. The more “Enthean” Enthean bring to their sound the better, especially since Emperor did “Emperor” pretty well already.