PILE OF PRIESTS – Pile of Priests

PILE OF PRIESTS – Pile of Priests

Pile Of Priests eponymous album is another testimony to the fact that you can have excellent, very skilled musicians, some interesting riffs, melodies and harmonies and make just a good album one struggles to remember any part of once it’s over. And these are not debutants, as they have been around since their 2007 inception in Denver, Colorado, with "Burn" demo (2010), "Unholy Death" EP (2011), "Void To Enlightenment" debut LP (2015) and "Tenebrous Labyrinth" EP (2017) before, this, their 2nd album.

For the recording of the eponymous, Evan Salvador (guitars, vocals), bassist Patrick Leyn (who sounds like Steven Di Giorgio of Sadus, Death and Testament fame) and Evan Knight (drums) hired guest session pianist Cody James Tyler (opening intro) and a graduate of Berklee College of Music in Music Composition and a vocal coach, harsh/clean vocalist Adrienne Elizabeth Catli Cowan (Conjunction Of Souls, The Restitution). On top of that, the lyrical story of an exiled prince seeking revenge on his deranged father for burning his rebel sister on a public stake is riveting. And on top of that they enjoy the promotion by the renowned Jon Asher and Asher Media Relations. Sounds like a recipe for success, right? So why isn’t it?

While the 9 track, 7 song album is chockfull of great riffs, melodies, progressive harmonies and excellent solos, it seems the Americans have a hard time composing an actual song from these elements. Two tracks come close but still miss the mark, and these are my favorite on the album, although it’s not the type of usual "I love this" favorite. "Death Of The Paragon" is truly progressive, starting out like an Iron Maiden song (with Salvador’s mournful and ominous recitation adding drama to the proceedings) and erupting into a latter Death death/thrash fest that feels a little too free-flowing and disjointed, ending on the same note it started. "The Restitution", album’s closer is actually a solid and varied affair, Adrienne’s clean, admittedly fabulous clean vocals giving it a gothic metal sheen until she utters an atrocious (sorry, Adrienne, nothing personal, vocal coach) growl which sounds like Death’s Charles Michael "Chuck" Schuldiner with a severely sore throat, something which actually detracts from the enjoyment of this track (although not nearly as much as the video single "Conjunction Of Souls" 4 tracks earlier, where she almost ruins the whole song), but thankfully the female growls are brief and the rest of the song and the album is enjoyable, with an effective epic end.

Pile Of Priest, specifically their frontman, Evan Salvador need to seriously rethink their songwriting approach as this death/thrash riffing on the metalcore vocal/traditional metal instrumental approach is barely memorable despite high class musicians involved. Perhaps album number 3, often a lucky number for bands, will tie all the loose ends.