Greenville, South Carolina may not be your first guess when asked where the next big, modern tech/melodic death metal band might hail from, but apparently nobody told Enthean. The band, formed in 2012, quickly attracted attention with their demo recording, which effortlessly blended black metal, technical death metal and melodic death metal into a surprisingly effective musical concoction. Now, almost four years later, the band are set to release their debut, Priests of Annihilation, and they’ve done much to avoid resting on their laurels.
Hybrid musical genres are all the rage these days, to the point where people will make up nonsense genres like hardcore technical ska-core as a joke. However, this breaking down of genre barriers is a good thing, when executed well, as it shows an act dedicated to expanding their musical horizons past a local scene or niche. Bands like Fallujah and Native Construct combine disparate musical style with such ease that it seems like second nature, and their runaway success in recent years proves listeners are receptive to bands who think outside the box. Enthean, then, are no different, as their blend of tech-death, melodic death and black metal sounds like the output of a band who’ve been grinding out albums and tours for more than a decade, and not the debut of a band four years old. The songwriting melds genre tropes from all three styles into a kind of musical chimera that’s as listenable as it is brutal and catchy, and shows that the band take their diverse songwriting influences seriously, and not just as a gimmick.
The songs on Priests of Annihilation are tight, well written, and don’t overstay their welcome or lean too heavily on over-the-top technicality, preferring to prioritize good songwriting and arranging over mindless wank, while still featuring incredibly technical guitar leads that fit the song. The addition of black and melodic death metal elements to the tech-death framework works surprisingly well, with lead off single “Tones of Desecration” featuring a groove laden main riff complemented by dizzying leads. Enthean’s songwriting formula isn’t overtly innovative, relying more on subtle twisting of genre conventions and additions of elements from other metal styles. Nevertheless, the formula works, perhaps more reliably than overt experimentation.
Special attention must be paid to the production job on Priests of Annihilation. Everything is easily discernible in the mix, with rhythm guitars being punchy and leads sounding silky smooth. The vocals, especially, sound great, with the excellent vocal delivery only being heightened by the production and mixing. Nothing is too loud or drowned in the mix here, and the record is all the better for it, allowing the technicality and strong songwriting to shine through unhindered.
Enthean are in a very strong position with this debut, sounding very much like a veteran act, and if they can attract the attention they deserve, they’re poised to become very big indeed. Priests of Annihilation is a record that prove Enthean are serious about joining the big leagues, and with an album this strong, they certainly deserve to.