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Nile are a unique band who flawlessly combine traditional Egyptian sounds and blasting death metal. There are only two other bands that come to mind that do something similar and these are Poland's Behemoth and Israel's Melechesh (whom are more black metal based). Nile are without a doubt the pioneers of the genre. When you mention Egyptian death metal the first name to instantly pop into your head is Nile. There are a few songs on this album which stray comletely away from the death metal, and even the metal mould completely. These are 'Kudurru Maqlu' and 'Die Rache Krieg Lied Der Assyriche'. The rest of this album is filled with arrangements and riffs influenced directly from the ancient Egyptian culture yet moulded carefully into death metal which is what makes Nile such a unique death metal band and one that isnt doomed to fall into the realm of tedium which seems to be the fate which befalls most death metal bands that are still around today. Relentless, crushing, punishing and brutal is all that could be said about Nile. They are a band who are set to revolutionise death metal, and a number of bands like Behemoth seem more than ready to follow in their footsteps.
The death metal passages are so relentlessly fast they stray often into the realm of grind, but every song has some form of atmospheric respite such as the synths heard halfway through 'Barra Edinazzu'. The sound of Nile is punchy and violent whilst epic and entombed with the mysteries of Ancient Egypt. Visions of vast golden deserts, pyramids, ancient pharoahs and mummys flash before your eyes, the Egyptian sounds driving Nile away from death metal into something enriched in history from many thousands of years ago. The instrumentation on this album is amazing and very diverse. Throughout the duration of 'Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka' you will hear guitars, bass, drums, vocals, choir chants, tibetan monks, Damaru human skull drums, thigh bone flutes, Turkish gongs and dumbecks. The opening track 'Smashing The Antiu' is classic blasting death metal with no atmospheric respites, just a wall of brutality and blastbeats. You get the feeling that this is just going to be another standard brutal death metal release, yet the further you delve in the more Nile reveal themselves and you will realise this is a death metal band like no other leaving Cannibal Corpse seeming like childs play.
The intro to 'Ramses Bringer Of War' is incredibly effective, sounding like a film-score for a scene that is slowly building up with tension. There are a number of lead guitar solos on here which are brilliantly executed. The most notable one is heard in the middle of 'Stones Of Sorrow', one of the slower songs on here. Half of the lyrics are sung in Egyptian adding to the level of uneasiness and mystery surrounding Nile's sound. 'Die Rache Krieg Lied Der Assyriche' is a great song featuring traditional drum sounds, choirs, chants and very menacing semi-growled vocals. 'Opening Of The Mouth' is one of the standout songs on here. Opening with an Egyptian melody played on some form of flute it breaks out into a brutal blastbeat-laden passage with Karl Sander's devastatingly harsh growl over the top like a savage beast waiting to tear you apart and feast on your flesh. There is a small breakdown into traditional drumming which then builds up into a fast riff and the chorus. The pounding drumming will drill straight through your soul. Karl Sander's growl puts other death metal singers like Glenn Benton and Corpsegrinder to shame. Pete Hammoura is one of the best death metal drummers I have heard for a while. There are a number of different singers on this album, one with a deeper growl and one with a yelled growl. Both work incredibly well together. The second singer is used more over the slower passages.
I guess the sarcophagus and hieroglyphs on the CD cover say it all about Nile, before you even look at the band name itself. If you are looking for something experimental for the time it was released yet not losing death metal's brutality and drive then Nile is definately for you. Nile have made sure they do not lose diehard death metallers yet made themselves different enough as to not get boring. 'Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka' is Nile's debut album and is a very impressive debut if I have ever heard one. The tightness and musicianship suggests a band who have been playing together for ten years or more. One of the best death metal releases I have heard for quite a while and is incredibly difficult to top. The only problem with 'Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka' is that it is too short. When it finishes you are craving for more. The final song 'Beneath Eternal Oceans Of Sand' opens with semi-acoustic guitars similar in sound to Opeth before breaking out into a ballcrushingly brutal song, perfect to close the album. There is another breakdown into quieter semi-acoustic guitarwork and you get the feeling that this is going to fade out until the end however this is interruped by more yelling, frantic guitarwork and intense drumming. A well worth album to own in any self-respecting death metal fan's CD collection.