With the idea of creating the old school ‘90s metal sound again, Denver’s Pile of Priests sounds like they knew what they were setting out to do after four years of separation from their EP. Get three tracks in at “Torture Chamber” and you should be able to feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Retro metal has become cool and for good reason, it still sounds good. Nobody said bands had to come up with some completely new sound that we’ve never heard before. All that should matter is that the songs are original and Pile of Priests piles eight of them on in their debut, Void to Enlightenment.
Lead guitar and vocalist, Evan Salvador, has a voice for that old school metal sound before the Cookie Monster death growl became the default setting. In an interview with Denver Heavy Metal Society, the band said they sought to mesh death and thrash together and just be heavy. They did a fine job doing exactly that. There is that tandem working throughout the album and Salvador kills it with his semi-blackened vocals and ’90s death metal guitar work. There’s no hyper flare here or unnecessary masturbatory musicianship. This is just straightforward metal and it feels authentic. It has a touch of Morbid Angel and Revocation most of all to me.
Sitting on drums is another Evan, Evan Knight. This dude does double duty on the album as he also provides lead guitar on two tracks. Like, if the guy couldn’t do enough already taking care of business on his kit, he can also step in and shred a couple solos just for kicks. Knight’s drumming hits all the marks for what the band is doing, though I could go for a bit louder, fuller sound. Providing the bass is Patrick Leyn and I really wish I could hear more of him but he still supplies good bass texture to the album.
From start to finish this album just rips, “Deranged Youth Succession” is the longest track of the album and really kicks ass, especially Knight’s guitar solo. But the highlight for me is “The Tribulation,” the entire track is perfection: good base riff, good structure, good solo, galloping drums. That one has gotta be bad ass live.
I think there is a place for Pile of Priests in the local metal scene that has become vibrant with so many different styles, though I think death metal and the doom/stoner metal derivatives dominate. Overall, I really like Void to Enlightenment. It’s an album that can be thrown on and listened to as if you’ve heard it before from years ago, except it’s new and local if you’re in Denver. Go and check them out.
Void to Enlightenment is available from them on their Bandcamp page right now.
Best Track: “The Tribulation”