2020 has been a promising year for new metal releases from bands old and new. Many bands thought to have been long-gone have come back to tour or have released some nostalgia-esque albums. With that, many bands have been reaching back to their metal roots and pulling influence from what many deem the golden years of metal – the 80’s and 90’s. Sloppy bass riffs chugging along at the forefront of the mix, scooped mids for the guitars roaring to be free, and familiar death growls that pump up the adrenaline-fueled songs that get people going. Many bands are bringing back old things that make metal so amazing and incorporating it with a modern influence – a juxtaposition of the old and new blended into a death-defying genre. To top it off, some bands are even honing their sights on making the old-school techniques at the front of their pile-driving songs, and Pile of Priests is no exception to this. In their sophomore self-titled release, Pile of Priests touch on subjects including organized religion and the issues of human nature; from the vocals and lyrical themes to the bass smacking your ears, Pile of Priests aren’t here to mess around.
What makes Pile of Priests’ sophomore album so good is how it perfectly blends the old thrash elements from bands like Testament and Slayer and brings it to a clash with elements from Death and Pestilence. While not exactly being a thrash metal nor death metal release, Pile of Priests incorporate both aspects into their latest release and throw in some melodic structure to shift the balance of what their debut album focused on. Songs like “Conjunction of Souls” and “The Restitution” emphasize the melodic licks that represent the maturity and growth of the band, taking a step back to offer some delicious riffs that will have you singing (rather, screaming) in the shower. However, for those looking for what Pile of Priests’ debut album offered, look no further than songs such as “The Aversion” and “Bloodstained Citadel” bring about the fast, thrashy drums and nasty pummeling bass lines delivered right to your doorstep. Patrick Leyn (bass) and Evan Knight (drums) are delivering an absolute girth of sound that really brings out the thickness of the mix while Evan Salvador (vocals, guitar) and Daryl Martin (guitar) viciously solo over the stomping of instrumentation in the background. When all seems to be extremely digestible, Salvador lets out a nostalgic-growl that feels so familiar, making it appear that Pile of Priests time-traveled from 1990 and are here to save us from quarantine and grant us the opportunity to roam through memory lane.
Overall, this album is pretty great. There’s a lot of acoustic interludes in some songs and clean-singing in the final track, along with great instrumentation and absolutely crushing displays of power and musicianship. Everything the band does blends together perfectly, and from front-to-back each song flows into each other to tell a story about the hypocrisy of man and how we are all, essentially, failures in some form. What separates this album from the rest of the albums coming out this year is the fact that there’s this overarching feeling of familiarity but so many modern techniques and interpretations of music are brought in that it feels fresh and spunky.
FFO: Death, Pestilence, Edge of Sanity