I was told that my review for "Nile - Annihilation of the Wicked" was rejected due to being poorly formatted.
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Hey kiddies! Does your music seem to lack a needed edge that gives it replayability? Do you listen to albums once, put them in a drawer and try to forget they exist, and when you remember them again you get the "-core dry-heaves"? Have you found yourself enjoying music less in general since then? Enter Nile, probably the biggest face in tech-death today. Well, the only one worth noticing. (Yes, Necrophagist is over there. Don't stare, it's not polite.) Nile's music always seems to have the edge that most techy bands lack, and probably my favorite thing about them: they seem to know the difference between "genuinely talented" and "Hey look, I can sweep back and forth for four minutes, call it a song, and do it ten more times and make an album!"
To the music we march! We start this album with the instrumental "Dusk Falls Upon The Temple Of The Serpent On The Mount Of Sunrise". (A thing you'll soon notice about this band: they sure do like their long-winded song names. Perhaps lead vocalist Karl Sanders uses it to practice on increasing his lung capacity?) It's a super-short 50 seconds long, so if you're shopping for your instrumental epics here look elsewhere. I'm sure that some people will enjoy this track, probably mostly true musicians, but personally this song didn't arouse much unusual attention from me. It doesn't seem to serve much purpose, other than to clarify that this band's main focus is on Egyptian mythology, which any dumbass could assume from the song names, the album name, or the album art. Oh, well. On to the - HOLY SHIT! Yes, though the first track of this album is a bit of a letdown, Nile quickly picks up the pace with the fastest and overall most brutal song on this album, "Cast Down The Heretic". The main riff is extremely addicting: although it's a simple tremolo, it sticks with the listener for quite a long time. Thankfully, the listener will take joy in knowing that the fast, relentless pace of this song doesn't let up until the 4:30 mark, and even then not until letting a massive guitar solo take place. Now I'll say right here: I do not like guitar solos. If it were up to me, all but, say, three or four extremely noteable solos, all the others would be destroyed from the face of the Earth. Thus, I say with happiness that the guitar solo in this song at least gave me a bit of enjoyment. At the beginning of the solo, it focuses entirely on groove, which is what all guitar solos should focus on, but then it converts to pure wanking. Although I hate it, it mixes the wanking with more groove later by going up a few notes and giving the guitar a creepy, ominous tone; one that makes you wish the whole song was constructed around it, that it lasted forever. After this, however, you can hear the telltale signs that the solo is wrapping up: the feeling that the guitar is slowly rising notes at a time, the solo is repeating what it did at the beginning of the song, and if a different sound was achieved during the solo, it slowly attempts to transition back without anyone noticing. Anyway, after the solo is over, we come to what resembles a form of a slam accompanied by chanting of the song's title over and over. Since the vocals are the main focus of the song here, I might as well cover them. Karl Sander's vocal style is quite...unique. It's a bit like George Fisher's style, but less pathetic and more fear-invoking. I guess the best way to describe it would be a death growl with the raspy, whispering sound of a black metal vocalist. Sometimes, however, during chants, there is a normal voice that sounds like fake shouting, and it sounds TERRIBLE. Imagine, while recording all the chants for your band, a drunken fan who slipped unnoticed into the studio jumps next to you and starts yelling the lyrics into the microphone while swaying side from side about to pass out. That is the best way to describe it. After the slam with the chants, the song picks up its original tone and basically repeats what it did for the first three minutes, before the solo.
The next song is "Sacrifice Unto Sebek". This is a good song, but it starts off weak. It's three minutes long, but it spends half a minute of that time repeating a slow, boring riff, and another half minute on a slow, boring outro. Perhaps on one of the two nine-minute epics present on this album, that would have worked, but on this track, the slowest song to incorporate the entire band's music, just no. Also, the vocals don't have the flow and groove that produced an epic like "Cast Down The Heretic". Around 0:58, we get a riff where the vocals are the main focus, and they're quite catchy. This place, right here in the album, was where I realized that this band's main asset was their vocalist's place in the song. Not the blistering instruments, not the lyrical themes, and not the atmosphere the band creates, but the rhythmic headbanging the vocals inspire. Anyway, around 1:30 in this song we reach a primarily guitar-centered riff, and this is the place where the guitars really shined for me. Although it's a really modest riff, the atmosphere it creates is quite vibrant. The rest of the song is just xeroxed material from the first half, and thus nothing else is of notice.
I'll get to the drums at this point in my review. George Kollias is just...wow. He's probably up there on my list of drummers with Behemoth's Inferno and Meshuggah's Tomas Haake. Although I think Inferno's fills are the best out of the three and Tomas is the most technical, George is definitely the fastest of the three. That's not to say that he's not technical; on the next track, "User ~ Maat ~ Re", he is the main focus of the starting beat, which isn't surprising, considering right about here he's hitting every goddamn drum on the kit. But yes, most of the time he's either blasting the snare and cymbal into nonexistence, or streaming away on the bass pedals until they threaten to explode.
Now, the song "User ~ Maat ~ Re". About it: well...it's long (9 minutes 15 seconds to be approximate), and it's slow. It doesn't have much of true notice, except for the guitar riff it has going for it for the last three minutes is pretty cool. Oh, and the instrumental at the beginning is of notice. It's played on the...um...the same instrument on the first track. I'm getting increasingly tired as I write this, and I can't think of the name of it...But yeah. Basically, this song doesn't have much that makes it particularly enjoyable, especially due to the fact you have through 6 minutes of boring shit to get to the only decent part in the song. The next track is one of my favorites, though: "The Burning Pits Of The Duat". The guitar is decent at first, but later it slows down a little bit and focuses a little bit more on rhythm and tone compared to pure technicality. Once again, we have the grooving vocals that give this band its edge over the rest of tech-death bands out there. The end of the song (the last 12 seconds) is one of the catchiest things you'll ever hear in the world of death metal. It literally makes you want to dance. The next song is... *takes deep breath* "Chapter Of Obeisance Before Giving Breath To The Inert One In The Prescence Of The Crescent Shaped Horns"...Well then. Actually, I never paid much attention to this song before, but upon its review, I quite like it. It's got a much darker tone than the bulk of the other songs, and is probably where the guitar reaches its biggest possible potential, drawing a fine line between wankery and tremolo goodness. I'll choose the latter, because I like the guitar in this song. Around the 3:00 mark, the song slows down to a riff resembling a slam. The guitar actually sounds extraterrestrial at this point, but I don't believe it's what they were aiming for. I haven't read the lyrics to this song, but I'm pretty sure Egypt being invaded by aliens would be stretching things a bit. Next, we meet face to face with my favorite song on this album, "Lashed to the Slave Stick". The beginning of this song is almost entirely tremolo with the guitars, and the main riff is a simple sweep that's repeated once a measure, and then another tremolo. It sounds simple, but it's really quite addicting. The vocals are probably the catchiest on this song, especially in the chorus. Unexpectedly, the song changes tempo at 2:15, and it's a change for the better. The tempo change is gone in thirty seconds, and the song slows down, finally picking the original tremolo to settle down on and spin its subtle web of enticement. Ironically, the drums are a bit weak on this particular song, but regardless this is still my favorite song on this album.
The next song ("Spawn of Uamenti") is more ambient than instrumental. It seems almost like "easy listening" or "something to listen to when you want something in your ears, but not actual music". Until I can come up with some other possible use for this song's existence, those are my theories. Onto the eight-minute title track. I constantly hear this song hyped, and it seems among Nile fans this is unanimously the "most totally brutal" song they ever created. The song is admittedly great, and it evokes an extremely large atmosphere, but other than better-than-average guitar work, I see nothing that is of extreme commendation. We have the slow songs on this album. (Hell, the next and last song on this album does it better.) We have the great guitar work. (Please refer to the second track on this album.) As a result, this song is just plain redundant. Recycled material. What's even sadder is that this is the title track. When your title track is the weakest thing on your album, there is a big problem. But hey, remember: if this song ever starts to suck to you, just say the words "wake up, wake up, wake up" in a Suicide Silence fashion and this will become the greatest song you've ever heard. And here we come to the final track. "Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten". Like a few other Nile songs, this one takes inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft's stories. I love this song. Even taking it for face value, it's just astounding. You know you've done something right when your main riff composes of a total of SEVEN notes (yes, that's 7, the number between 6 and 8) and it's still addicting as crack cocaine. Later, the song comes to another tremolo, slows down, and takes on a variation of the main riff. The vocals have less of an impact on this song compared to the others, but that isn't to say that removing them wouldn't cause the tower to fall over. At 4 minutes in, the guitars fade to the back and what sounds like a hypnotized, possessed chorus chimes in. At 5 minutes, we get a guitar solo. Remember how I feel about guitar solos? Yeah...this one ain't much better in my book. It stops a minute later, and starts and stops streaming beats continously while Karl Sanders seems to be performing spoken word with the slight added gruffness of a growl. A slow, repeated riff coalesced with death growls herald the album out as subtly as it came in. Thus ends this gem of an album.
This is not, by all, or even any means, a jaw-dropping, innovative, or ground-breaking album. However, it is an astonishing album. At least one of the songs on it will become one of your personal favorites, and if you ever had doubts about the decency of technical death metal as a genre, this album will purify your thoughts and open your mind. All in all, I would recommend this album to any death metal fan. Hell, even a thrash metal fan would appreciate this. That is all. You've heard the verdict; now purchase this album before you kill yourself with guilt for not owning it.