Nile’s adulation and maybe obsession with Egyptology is not necessarily unique these days but they were certainly one of the first to my knowledge to actually write entire albums about the myths and legends on the subject. Karl Sanders’ knowledge is encyclopaedic judging by his comments and interviews from the past, the guy knows his stuff. I remember hearing the debut from Nile and was utterly blown away by it; it still ranks as one of my all time favourite death metal albums. I have seen Nile half a dozen times over the years since my inaugural debut gig watching them at a shitty pub in Wakefield who’s PA couldn’t cope and the venue was more packed than battery hens. Even then I felt I was watching a band with intelligence and a genuine heartfelt association with what they were writing about. True enough subsequent live ventures have often left me feeling somewhat dismayed and disappointed but on album Nile fucking rule.
Nile’s music is always intense, it’s dark, it’s supremely brutal and possesses a textural structuring that most couldn’t even imagine never mind write. The constant research and unerring search for more knowledge means that Nile’s music is multi-faceted, vivid, exhilarating to listen to and executed with pompous professionalism. This is Nile’s seventh full length album and if you were expecting something radically different then you’ll either be pleased as punch or pissed off depending on your point of view. Nile’s trademark blasting template is firmly intact but the riffing has taken on a whole new level of power. Added to this the band has ensconced the services of their one time bassist and vocalist Jon Vesano during the “Annihilation Of The Wicked” album to do some extra vocals that appear throughout the album.
Nile seem incapable of doing anything simplistically as even the song titles are huge and complex; take the opener “Enduring The Eternal Molestation Of Flame” the tune begins with an imposing Egyptian styled intro that brings about hieroglyphs, catacombs with endless sarcophagi and foreboding majesty. It is worth noting that composition of this album started during May 2011 and has took some ten months to complete, the time has been well spent as the opening riff that eventually filters through shows the ambitious stature this album has taken on. Initial impressions show a return to the early work, but the vocals are a huge displacement from the past, but fear not the guttural throat singing like bellow is steadfastly intact. Instead it is the addition of semi-clean vocal passages that have added another dimension to Nile’s formidable musical armoury. As ever the riffing by Nile is unique, they are blasted out like a sonic nail gun to the temple as the opener takes a huge drop into a slower and eerie atmosphere. At first I felt the production on the bass was lacking, being used loosely to tie the riffing and guitar work together but in retrospect the bass lines keep everything tight and resolute. There is always an element of chaotic dissonance to Nile’s music, something that is exclusive to them as the immense title of “The Fiends Who Became To Steal The Magick Of The Deceased” demonstrates. The drum speed is insane here with the snare blurring into an amorphous assault, and with the riffs lingering just long enough to take a bite of; the song flashes by in an explosive riffing detonation. Again the vocals are stupendous with that ominous choral chant being used to magnificent effect.
The production, courtesy of Neil Kernon (Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Nevermore) is exemplary with crystal clear depth on all instruments but a huge horns up for the vocals recording and mixing which are awesome in every song. Nile has really pulled out all the stops to create an album jam packed with new riffs and arrangements with “When My Wrath Is Done” beginning in fine Egyptian style with a chug laden riff and a deep vocal roar before the rabid blast. It is also good to hear each guitar distinctly in the mix, just like it used to be in the 80s when twin guitar ruled and you could hear each of them in separate speakers. It may be old fashioned to some but it really hones the senses on what you are listening to. The creepy and intimidating “Slaves of Xul” acts as an intro to title track whose full title is, deep breath now, “The Gods Who Light Up The Sky At The Gate Of Sethu” and this one isn’t the shortest song title. This one has an ultra modern death metal feel and reverts to what Nile do best, blast scarab beetles and dusty cobwebs right out of your soul. The massive double kick infusion is terrifying and has one the best guitar hooks they’ve ever done. I need to add that George Kollias’ drumming is unbelievable on this album, his speed blasts are unequalled yet his ability with the slow moody sections is textured and absorbing to listen to.
I adored “Tribunal Of The Dead” with its epic doom flavour being surrounded by Nile’s unerring ability to feel like you’re trying to crawl out of your own entombment. This is a bone crunching and teeth smashing song with a humungous riff. The flow from this to “Supreme Humanism Of Megalomania” is excellent, as like I’ve said previously bands need to think carefully about song flow, it adds another facet to how a band is perceived. For a change I actually enjoyed the guitar solo work here as I’m not a great lover of complex guitar solos. Closing the album in an epic and grandiose finale is “The Chaining Of The Iniquitous” which starts with haunting and sprawling pipe work. That feeling of being watched is there as the crushing riff comes in like a sandstorm devastating everything, but with a distinct harmony embedded within it. Karl’s vocals are grotesquely absorbing taking on frightening and horrifying proportions. The tune elongates the riff into a sludge like deluge as the singing goes into a barked commanding style. The shift to marching snare beat takes the guitar harmony up a notch to a more discernible level for the solo to permeate the sludge. I actually thought Nile couldn’t get any better than on “Those Whom The Gods Detest” but I was wrong and whilst parts of that outstrip this in places there is no denying that Nile continue to challenge their fans and will definitely gain new ones with this gigantic release.
8.5/10 (Martin Harris)