Pile Of Priests – Pile Of Priests – Album Review

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Artist: Pile Of Priests

Album Title: Pile Of Priests

Label: Extreme Metal Music/Rockshots Records

Date of Release: 22 May 2020

Denver, Colorado is the destination of my next review at manofmuchmetal.com, as it is home to a four-piece that go by the no-nonsense name of Pile Of Priests. I’m not really sure what attracted me to this album amongst the plethora of options available to me from across the globe but I checked it out and initially liked what I heard just enough to avail myself of the promo.

Formed over a decade ago, it has been slow progress for the American quartet, comprised of bassist Patrick Leyn, vocalist/guitarist Evan Salvador, guitarist Daryl Martin and drummer Evan Knight. However, 2020 sees the release of this, their self-titled, sophomore full-length album and with it, a few heads might turn in their direction. They certainly deserve to on the strength of this release too.

The great thing about Pile Of Priests is that, although they are undoubtedly an underground extreme metal band, their music is instantly likable. They take a handful of death metal, a fistful of thrash, and blend it with a decent dollop of melody, before taking a trip back in time, to the 90s, in order to inject a touch of the old-school to their recipe. What comes out at the end is really rather palatable and I have found myself taking to it a lot more strongly than I was first expecting. Think mid-era Death, blended with someone like early Testament and you’re not overly distant from the reality of ‘Pile Of Priests’.

Firstly, there’s the sound of the record. It is meaty, but in no way over-produced, giving an authentically rough-around-the-edges feel that’s perfect for the music, making it appear slightly gritty and dirty. Nevertheless, all the instruments are given their fair share of the limelight thanks to decent separation, with the bass of Leyn particularly noticeable, adding density and extra power to the material as a whole and to the riffing in particular.

After the imaginatively-titled piano ‘intro’, with its blend of delicate melodies and occasional dalliances into uncomfortable, discordant realms, it is up to ‘The Aversion’ to make the first real impression. And it does so with a down-tuned monster riff and double-pedal drumming, whilst the bass punches you in the gut the entire time. The growls of Salvador are nicely deep and throaty, whilst the lead guitar lines add that sense of melody that gives the track its accessibility. There’s a gratuitously groovy segment that emerges too, which creates a great early impression.

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‘Death Of The Paragon’ opens up with a quiet melodic clean guitar melody as we’re treated to an atmospheric spoken-word intro. The atmospherics are all over this track, one that’s generally of a slower pace than its predecessor, longer, more complex, and more intent on creating a dark, yet groove-laden, melodic listening experience.

There’s a gloriously old-school feel to the excellent ‘Exile Unto Divination’, with riffing that calls to mind ‘The Avenger’-era Amon Amarth and a slick delivery to go with the faster tempo. The haunting lead solo that arrives just after the half-way mark is out of the very top drawer too, preferring touch and feel over speed and dexterity.

Just when you’ve got used to the rumbling growl of the vocals, ‘Conjunction Of Souls’ lets rip a much more higher-pitched and caustic rasp to add another touch of variety to proceedings. With another sumptuous melodic solo on top, this has to be one of many high points on this record. Even the mid-album palette-cleanser that’s ‘The Threshold’ is a great addition, acting as more than just a quieter, more introspective instrumental interlude. There’s an unsettling atmosphere and feel to the track, even though it delivers an initially-inviting, clean guitar driven melody, supplemented by a throbbing bass and more subtle, nuanced drumming.

‘Deus Delanda Est’ restores some normality with a thunderous approach, whilst ‘Bloodstained Citadel’ is one of the fastest, thrashiest and dirtiest compositions on the entire record. And the closer, the eight-minute ‘The Restitution’ begins in quiet, clean guitar fashion, complete with guest female vocals. The song then explodes into full life with another great lead solo before riffs enter that crush everything in their path and drums that pummel us into submission. And yet, the song has an immediacy about it that cannot be ignored or marginalised. It’s altogether a great ending to a very nice album indeed.

Coming out of nowhere and being an album I checked out on a whim, my delight is increased several-fold. If you’re after a taste of nostalgia in 2020 and you’re a fan of bands like Pestilence or Death, then this could be your salvation. Failing that, at least it’ll make you bang your head so vigorously you might forget reality for a short while – 43 great minutes to be exact.

The Score of Much Metal: 83%

Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:

Sorcerer – Lamenting Of The Innocent
Lesoir – Mosaic
Temnein – Tales: Of Humanity And Greed
Caligula’s Horse – Rise Radiant
…And Oceans – Cosmic World Mother
Vader – Solitude In Madness
Shrapnel – Palace For The Insane
Sinisthra – The Broad And Beaten Way
Paradise Lost – Obsidian
Naglfar – Cerecloth
Forgotten Tomb – Nihilistic Estrangement
Winterfylleth – The Reckoning Dawn
Firewind – Firewind
An Autumn For Crippled Children – All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet
Havok – V
Helfró – Helfró
Victoria K – Essentia
Cryptex – Once Upon A Time
Thy Despair – The Song Of Desolation
Cirith Ungol – Forever Black
Igorrr – Spirituality and Distortion
Nightwish – Human. II: Nature.
Katatonia – City Burials
Wolfheart – Wolves Of Karelia
Asenblut – Die Wilde Jagd
Nicumo – Inertia
The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous
Omega Infinity – Solar Spectre
Symbolik – Emergence
Pure Reason Revolution – Eupnea
Irist – Order Of The Mind
Testament – Titans Of Creation
Ilium – Carcinogeist
Dawn Of Ouroboros – The Art Of Morphology
Torchia – The Coven
Novena – Eleventh Hour
Ashes Of Life – Seasons Within
Dynazty – The Dark Delight
Sutrah – Aletheia EP
Welicoruss – Siberian Heathen Horde
Myth Of I – Myth Of I
My Dying Bride – The Ghost Of Orion
Infirmum – Walls Of Sorrow
Inno – The Rain Under
Kvaen – The Funeral Pyre
Mindtech – Omnipresence
Dark Fortress – Spectres From The Old World
The Oneira – Injection
Night Crowned – Impius Viam
Dead Serenity – Beginnings EP
The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic
Deadrisen – Deadrisen
Blaze Of Perdition – The Harrowing Of Hearts
Godsticks – Inescapable
Isle Of The Cross – Excelsis
Demons & Wizards – III
Vredehammer – Viperous
H.E.A.T – H.E.A.T II
Psychotic Waltz – The God-Shaped Void
Into The Open – Destination Eternity
Lunarsea – Earthling/Terrestre
Pure Wrath – The Forlorn Soldier EP
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Sepultura – Quadra
Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite
Godthrymm – Reflections
On Thorns I Lay – Threnos
God Dethroned – Illuminati
Fragment Soul – A Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies
Mariana Semkina – Sleepwalking
Mini Album Reviews: Moloken, The Driftwood Sign & Midnight
Serenity – The Last Knight
Ihsahn – Telemark EP
Temperance – Viridian
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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