Coming out of South Carolina, fans of Dissection, Frosthelm, Dimmu Borgir and Emperor need to take notice of technical black metallers Enthean. Priests Of Annihilation is their debut release, coming three years after the band's demo Tombs Of Desecration back in 2013. The album is a thunderous, yet rather grim and evil affair that utilizes as much of the keyboards as it does clean vocals and thrash riffs. There are also some symphonic nodes of atmosphere here, which sort of purvey the whole “epic” feeling such a band wants to embody. From the eerie synths and the blackened melodies, we can tell that these guys really love their symphonic black as much as they like their melodic blackened death. Yet there's also that groove/death kick, which none of us might be expecting, as well as some really tasteful and quite plentiful solo cuts that show a band not afraid to do some technical shredding. Brian Kingsland and Adam Broome make up the guitar and vocal section of the act, while Mitch Moore handles the drums and it's more or less a twin guitar solo frenzy akin to the Amott brothers on a couple of these tracks. We also get some rather tasteful progressive rock influence on longer tracks like “Before You, I Am” and the album's closer “Invalesc De Profundis” which injects a classic rock solo into the mix, just before we're pounded with a hefty triumphant march. I'll admit that it's a bit odd to hear more of a growl vocal on this record and I think I might have personally liked it more with a scowling black metal touch. That being said, I certainly think there's a lot of talent to be had here and that's in the playing in general. When the record sounds this good on an instrumental level, the vocals really aren't so important in the long run. Many people like to ask the question, “Well, how well can they play?” and my answer to that is “Very well.” Enthean play on this record as if they've been playing for decades, even if there are still some kinks to be worked out in all the symphonic stuff. This is the kind of band that's all about substance, regardless of the whole “epic synth” thing. Even if you removed all of that influence from the record, it will still perform just as strong as it does with the orchestral flair. There's quite a few symphonic death metal acts that I don't think would be as strong without their synths and orchestras, but these guys aren't one of them. Priests Of Annihilation is still a bit rough around the edges, but it's still worth picking up and certainly worth supporting. These guys don't even have a label yet, but after a performance like this one, they should soon. If you like technicality and orchestral flair in your black/death metal, then you owe it to yourself to embark on this musical adventure.
(8 Tracks, 46:00)