Enthean - Priests of Annihilation
Self released
Technical Black / Death Metal
8 songs (44'41")
Release year: 2016
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

The word Surprise could not have been applied any better than in the case of Greenville, South Carolina Enthean. To come up with an album so complete and so mature after only one prior demo to their credit is a surprise. To have so dense yet lively sound is a surprise. To unfold an effort so dynamic, where piano touches and thrash outbursts coexist, is a surprise. To play in a rather populated style of technical black/death metal without sounding like they are copying Emperor or Immortal, to provide their own take on the genre, and make it all click virtually from the first listen is an ultimate surprise.

So, my first paragraph reveals the kind of music Enthean play, yet, trust me, this will be an engaging and satisfying listen, full of twists and turns. Sure, 1054 is blackened death with Emperor-like symphonic grandeur, and Behold the Primordial is a thundering roar with bits of atmosphere floating above, but prepare to be, yes, surprised as 1054 unveils Sigh like triumphant melodic passages at 4’30” and 5’20”, while Behold the Primordial devolves into symphonic, full of heaviness movie score after going through debilitating Hate Eternal/Origin death metal breakdown. Enthean can open up with a dark acoustic, become fantastically melodic, and after another brief symphonic verdict is read plunge into truly (!) jazzy guitar playing (Invalesc de Profundis). The band can play a little cleaner, or should I call it less saturated, on Bring Forth the Raven. They can allow some folksiness in their melody (Dysthanasia). And they can surely dazzle with their musicianship, climbing the frets and bordering on progressive when it gets to laying down their solos (Before You, I Am, Dysthanasia). However, don’t confuse Enthean advanced musicianship with them being soft. The first minute and a half of Tones of Desecration shows the band are no sissies and they can fire machine gun riffs with the best of them, upping the ante and raising temperature on the spot. And when you start thinking it is going to be easy to lose your senses in the beatdown of Ekpyrosis, slower sinister march pulls you through. In terms of vocals confident menacing bellows are in the forefront, but more often than not they are supplemented with layered cleaner vocals, as if angels are crying bloody tears in the wake of bulldozer which just passed through.

Yet, out of all surprises Priests of Annihilation throws your way it is the vivid nature of the images I was able to conjure up in my mind that stands out. Before You, I Am is a meaty descend into madness, into ruined Dante’s Hell, where talented young mind is troubled, expressing itself with acoustics and progressive solos, trying to break out of depravity, only to get sucked into it deeper and deeper. And while you are deciding whether escape is going to be possible, the furious ending leaves no doubt. The end of Bring Forth the Raven is heroic, while Behold the Primordial is closing with a picture of a struggling wounded beast.

Several American bands, like Martriden or Frosthelm travelled along the same road, but in their debuts trended closer to the frozen Dissection path. Enthean is a bit different, reminded me in spots of Keep of Kalessin with their better efforts, and speaking of the Norwegians, if their latest album was half of that as Priests of Annihilation we would have been talking success. Somebody needs to sign Enthean immediately, and I hope they will have their choice of labels after this album.

Killing Songs :
1054, Behold the Primordial, Invalesc de Profundis because I have to name some, but all of these are good
Alex quoted 85 / 100
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