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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 technical 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 notable 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.
The song "User ~ Maat ~ Re" is ridiculously long (9 minutes 15 seconds to be approximate) 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 you get the point. 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 catchy vocals that give this band its edge over most 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 Presence 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 continuously 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 a good 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. Go out and buy it; I doubt you'll be disappointed.
I'm beginning to think that the difference between good Nile albums and terrible ones is simply a matter of production, because it's difficult for me to articulate precisely why 'Annihilation Of The Wicked' is pretty good and 'In Their Darkened Shrines' is a barbed wire nipple in the mouth when musically they're essentially the same. The biggest difference between the two is the production: the full, clear and loud sound on this album is a thousandfold improvement over the Hate Eternal-style mud of the previous. Aside from this, the albums are the same general idea with only a few slight musical differences; then again, maybe those minor differences make this more than the sum of its parts.
The most obvious thing that I can see about this beyond the production is that it doesn't have nearly as much gay ambient stuff as the previous release, and what's there usually takes the form of clean guitar sections that are relatively listenable rather than awful synthesized drones. The synths in general seem to have been dropped back a bit, even in the token 'epic' tracks (meaning over seven minutes long), and are no longer a cheesy and omnipresent vulture just waiting for the right opportunity to queer things up. Not to say this doesn't have its dose of cheese: plenty of the melodies still sound like they should be coming from some 1950's film strip about the excavation of King Tut from this prismatic grave.
The riffs are Nile riffs and very similar to those found on 'In Their Darkened Shrines', but if I'm not mistaken, they're ever so slightly more melodic and lucid and less frequently devolve into a series of seemingly random notes. The guitarwork is just as masturbatory as its always been, but with the new production, it's like Sanders is masturbating right in front of you, and I guess seeing his mighty arpeggiated shaft directly is better than awkwardly straining to hear his self-abuse through a wall. A slightly toned down drum performance is also part of the success of the album; when everything isn't laden with self-indulgent and pointless fills, the drums are able to give the songs the necessary momentum required to actually, you know, get somewhere.
Oh yeah, the songs, I knew I was forgetting something. They're good; they're more restrained in their attempts and progressive songwriting and seem more firmly rooted in death metal than before, resulting in a lot of relatively brief, intense, and riffy numbers like 'Cast Down The Heretic', 'Sacrifice Unto Sebek', or 'Lashed To The Slave Stick'. Unsurprisingly, Nile is best when they're working within their means instead of hitching their wagon to distant Egyptian stars, and so the shorter the track is, the better it generally comes across. These tracks are appropriately technical and brutal, but moreover can create some actual headbanging, something that Nile at this point had been unable to do for two albums previous.
Of course there are a couple moments where Nile decides to go off the deep end and attempt one of their generally cringe-inducing epics, but surprisingly, the longer tracks on this album are actually listenable and occasionally verge on genuinely good. Far from the hopelessly bloated and embarrassing songs of the past like 'Unas, Slayer Of The Gods', the epics on 'Annihilation Of The Wicked' have a good sense of pacing and manage to maintain listener interest despite how Nile has been playing the same music for four albums now. These songs aren't nearly as good as the shorter ones, but they're an admirable attempt, which is more than you can generally say for these guys.
As almost a complete 180 in quality from the previous LP, this album is a genuinely worthwhile slab of tech death for those who enjoy the genre. The compositions are tight and clear and the improved production works wonders for making this listenable. As loathe as I am to admit enjoying Nile's music, I have to say that this gets regular spins from me.
This is often hailed as Nile's peak. I've only heard three of their albums and I would have to choose which one pisses me off the least. The name of the frontman, Karl Sanders, reminds me of Colonel Sanders. And this music reminds me of Colonel Sanders entering an all beef cookoff with a bucket of fried chicken. Colonel Karl approaches the judge's table with his savory bucket of delicious goodness. What a surprise! The other judges look pleased. I mean, they've been eating steaks all day, right? I, however, am scowling.
"WHERE IS THE MOTHERFUCKING BEEF, KARL??"
Where are the awesome riffs? You get tons of boring ones in a thin guitar tone with monotonous and mechanical drumming that doesn't fit at all. Sure, these guys are highly skilled but since when does that count for anything in music? Never (in my book that is). If I found out that this asshole changed his first name to begin with the letter K, I'd dock this album's score just because I'm an irrational prick. Yes, I'm sure it's just a stage name or whatever but we may have to do something about South Carolina if we indeed have chucklefucks there naming kids Karl.
The theme of Annihilation of the Wicked centers around ancient Egypt. That would be cool if it boiled down to more than a few small synth parts and the prolific use of the snake charmer scale (Phrygian dominant if that means anything to you). The vocals are acceptable and decently varied but verge on that awful "inhaled sound" a lot. Pretty indecipherable most of the time, which is unfortunate because lyrics about ancient Egypt are interesting.
Are there supposed to be a bunch of exotic instruments here? Perhaps I missed them entirely because of the stupor induced by listening to this. There's a short intro track and one small interlude track that fails to do anything other than puzzle me. The folk instrument on the intro manages to give off a strong Egyptian vibe so that's a small plus. The other one is pointless (Spawn of Uamenti, track eight). It's like they were racking their brains trying to figure out some way to break up this monotone slab of Valium and couldn't figure out anything better than filling up 74 seconds with random noises and slow tribal drums.
The biggest problem with this album (and Nile's music in general) is that the songs rarely go anywhere. I keep waiting for some awesome part to come hit me and it never happens. Three songs stretch past the eight minute mark as well, which is a recipe for disaster. There are some occasional good bits, but they only frustrate me because I keep expecting THE REALLY GOOD BITS and they never come. What I wanted was a juicy burger and what I got was a two day old chicken sandwich. Oh...okay. What's this? Waiter! I ordered exciting death metal and you brought me sleepy randomness with extra gimmick. I'm hungry now.
This release by South Carolina death metal outfit, Nile, is truly amazing in every aspect and satisfies every need of a death metal head looking for something to headbang to. The opening to the disc is very Egyptian themed with traditional instruments. This opening is then crushed by the standout ‘Cast Down the Heretic’. This song is extremely fast with all musicians hammering on their instruments. The drumming is impeccable as double bass is kicked almost throughout the whole song. This song also features one of the longest sets of solos that I have ever heard from a death metal band. This does not get boring at all though as each guitar cuts its blade of technical command through ever heretic that it has come upon. The chant of cast down the heretic at the end of the song is also very powerful and an amazing way to go out of the song.
The song ‘Sacrifice Unto Sebek’ though short, also stands out as a very powerful and quick song that showcases Nile’s songwriting ability perfectly. The song is rather catchy and the guitar work is superb as it mixes low and high playing into a brutal mesh of guitar and drum work. The double-bass pedals are very pronounced and greatly enhance the song. The chanting of “Tua Ashemu, Tua Ashemu, Rekhes Au Sebek, Tua Ashemu” keeps with the Egyptian theme and sounds as though it is a much more brutal version of an early metal chant. This is Nile’s equivalent of ‘Breaking the Law’ in that aspect and is absolutely unique in their ability to have a two minute blast of brutality linger in the thoughts of the listener for hours. Throughout this release the guitar is very up front and utilized perfectly. The riffing is unique and very technical throughout with styles like tremolo picking very pronounced in songs like ‘Lashed to the Slave Stick’.
The drumming is top notch. George Kollias’ feet are like jackhammers pounding every song into the minds of the audience and he enhances the power of each riff especially in the song ‘User-Maat-Re’. The rest of the drums are played at incredibly fast speeds and completely autonomous from the double bass pedals. The technicality of Kollias’ drumming is amazing and will keep anyone counting beats as fast as they can. In every song it seems that Kollias is playing three songs on just the top of his drum kit while his feet pound away at their own pace. The drumming is truly brilliant and complements the guitars and vocals perfectly.
The vocals are perfect for this release as there are three vocalists all with different pitches to their voices and complement the different pitches of the music perfectly. The screams in this disc come up like mummies from the catacombs seeking revenge. The lyrics retain that ancient Egyptian feel as different gods and ritualistic practices are described but retain that death metal feel as different aspects of gore are described in great detail. The three members of the band that vocalize as well as play guitars and bass also include lyrics that are in Egyptian which enhance the ambiance of the release though it is tough to understand at first listen. As with many Nile releases the lyric sheet comes with meticulously researched explanations of each song’s lyrics and insight into the different subjects tackled. These give even more meaning to each lyric growled on the disc and truly demonstrate the passion that the band has for Egyptology and the music that they make.
In total, this is one of the greatest brutal/technical death metal releases that I have bought in a long time and it truly deserves every bit of praise that it has gained. The production is top notch as well as the musicianship and anyone who is into death metal should definitely check out this release.
Annihilation of the Wicked sees Nile bringing their style of wrathful death metal to the next level of power and command. They have at once mastered a genre (even removing the Middle Eastern influences their songs are as brutal, fast, and technical as anything on the market) and brought their own unique flavour to it that is surprisingly becoming more interesting with each release. This may because of the depth of involvement Sanders puts into his lyrics and subject matter. Oppositely to other “themed” bands which focus on limited subjects such as gore and violence, Nile has an entire cultural library of folklore and history from which to draw on. Reading the lyrics makes me feel like I’ve learned something by listening to Nile; they add an aura of wisdom and mystique to the band that surpasses the usual purely-brutal qualities of death metal.
Enlisting Neil Kernon as producer was a good idea. While the sound on this record isn’t 100% clear and flawless, it is much better than anything Nile has released before. There is also an extremely organic feel to the performances. This comes from Sanders actually playing much more of the Middle Eastern instruments in the intros and interludes rather than programming them. And then of course, there are the drums. First off, George Kollias is an insane drummer. He provides a performance that normal people could not achieve without the use of amphetamines. Kernon made a great production choice in not turning Kollias’ frantic blasts and fills into the computer generated-snorefest that can be heard on most death metal and death-core releases surfacing lately. There is audible physicality and variance in his snare and toms, and perceivable strain in pulling off some of the ridiculously difficult parts. For me this makes all the difference. I would much rather hear a drummer I can imagine watching live than wondering whether or not a beat was played or programmed. The only score I will knock off this album lies in the guitar tone, as the multiple overdubs of low-tuned strings (I believe Nile tunes down to A!) creates a din which can cause a headache at high volumes. I'm sure this could have been corrected in mastering, or in pre-production when choosing a tone the guys could have rolled off the lows a little. This would also have left some room for the bass to be more of creative contribution and not just a sound-booster.
As mentioned earlier, Nile is at the top of death metal. The tracks on Annihilation of the Wicked all stand out as individuals as opposed to many death metal releases which feature a mess of indistinguishable songs. I do believe however that there is potential to go ever further into experimentation. Anyone who has heard Karl Sanders’ Saurian Meditation album knows that the Egyptian theme harbours more possibility than godly war anthems. Nile could easily inject their music with more vocal variance and acoustic and Middle Eastern instruments within songs as opposed to only being used in intros. However, you can’t grade an album on what you hope the next one will be, and I find little punishable fault in this one.
Annihilating the Wicked, part 2: 99%
Okay, so here’s the deal. My previous review of this album sucked. I admit it. So, here’s a rewrite of it; which I hope is more informing than my previous one. You’ll find some things have changed (oh dear, I sound like I’m some envied writer who earns one hundred dollars per book sold), especially the grade I gave it; from a 9,7 to a 9,9. Yadiyadiyada, nothing special really.
But anyways, let me start off with a compliment to Karl and Dallas. You guys are two of the most talented guitar players I’ve ever heard (together with Muhammed Suicimez from Necrophagist – worth checking out if you like Nile!). From the starting riff of “Cast Down The Heretic” to the ending solo / riff of “User-Maat-Re” to the fadeout of “Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten”, it all sounds like one big, intense rollercoaster ride that lasts for nearly a full hour (about fifty minutes, to be exact) and keeps being utterly relentless. No weak spots, anywhere. Some of the best headbanging riffs I’ve ever heard (*cough*Annihilation of the Wicked*cough*User-Maat-Re*cough).
To this all is added the amazing drumming of George Kollias. This man is probably one of the fastest drummers in the scene, and probably one of the most technical too. His drumming flawlessly keeps in perfect pace with all the riffs that are played anywhere – I haven’t heard ONE off-beat note from anything ranging from his snare to his left high-pitched, nearly-unreachable hi-hat (or something).
The vocals. Wow. Karl and Dallas together deliver some of the lowest, fastest and varied grunts ever. They sound like Ra himself, would he ever speak unto this world. Just incredible.
Take, for example, “Chapter of Obeisance” (I won’t type out the whole song name – it’d be longer than this review). Second line: “Who Possesseth Absolute Dominion over the Evil Spirits that Infest the Earth and Sky”. This line is brought to us (by Dallas) within 4 seconds.
Another example (this time of epic vocals): “Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten”. With the first “lyrical paragraph”, Karl grunts some of the lowest grunts I’ve ever heard in my life! “Kulten” is the most epic (and longest, beating “User-Maat-Re” by about 30 seconds) Death Metal song from Nile, ever. Yes, in my opinion this even beats “To Dream Of Ur” and “Unas Slayer of the Gods”.
Lyrically, this album once again follows Egyptian mythology, methods of torture and Lovecraftian stories (actually just one really – “Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten” is a fictional book thought up by friends of Lovecraft and used within the Lovecraftian universe. More on this is written in the notes for the song by Karl). Nothing too new (however a concept that only Nile has yet touched – Egyptian mythology that is – and, probably, only Nile is capable of doing), regarding their previous three full-lengths (which be “Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka”, “Black Seeds Of Vengeance” and “In Their Darkened Shrines”, respectively). In any case, the lyrics are very well-written.
The production is very good, however some criticism applies here. I can NOT, but once, hear the bass guitar anywhere on this album. The only case is on “… Kulten”, just before the part where Karl starts bellowing his lines. I haven’t got much to say on this, I’m not an expert, and it sounds very well-blended and mixed to me – nothing is overpowered, the vocals are easily distinguishable (in the sense of being able to hear them, not make out the text).
Have I got anything else to say? Ah yes, I do. Why I give this a 9,9, not an 8 or something. Well, this is because it’s just plainly a perfect album. Perfect I say? Then why not a 10? Because no thing ever will get a 10 from me, but Pain of Salvation’s BE (sure, call me a pussy – so what?).
To be very honest, I haven’t really got a great reason why I gave this a 9,9. I only know that it deserves it.
People who like Nile, people who like Death Metal, get this. It’s awesome. It’s better than “ITDS” and “BSOV”. It’s better than anything. It’s …. Annihilation of the Wicked!
Stand-out tracks: “Cast Down The Heretic”, “User-Maat-Re”, “Burning Pits of the Duat”, “Annihilation of the Wicked” and “Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten”. Or, actually: All of them!
This is my first Nile album. Keep that in mind as you read my review, because I can't possibly recognize the "been-there, done-that" qualities of this album. I haven't heard any of their other material so I can't judge that. What I can judge is what I think of the album completely unbiased. I've come out with some pretty good thoughts on it, however, this is a rather repetitive display of brutality.
The album opens up with a short Egyptian-styled song, just some light acoustic work or whatever the hell the instrument is. That blasts into "Cast Down the Heretic", oen of my favorites on the album. It's mind-blowingly fast and brutal and has somewhere around 3 minutes of soloing in there. First sign of repetition, but that's ok, because the solos are sick. Near the end they slow it down for yells of "CAAAAAST! DOOOOOWN! THE! HEEREETIIIIIIIIIC!" which is the epitome of awesome. I also like how the vocals are fast on this album, almost working as another instrument. It works damn well.
Sacrifice unto Sebek is short but sweet. It has the same thing as Cast Down the Heretic, sweet brutality and sweet riffs with a really cool slow-down and Egyptian sounds scattered throughout. The solo in this one is truly sweet. User Maat Re starts out with some light acoustic or once again, whatever the hell that instrument is. Then it blasts into one of the sweetest portions of the album...which only lasts for about twenty seconds. Then the song follows it's course of speed and brutality for awhile, until 4:12, where a slightly creepy guitar part comes in, leads into a devastatingly crushing part. Up to this point, the drummer had been near perfect, but here, he's a bit excessive. Damn...his feet are fast though. The song then chuggs along fairly repetitively until the end.
The Burning Pits of Duat has a sweet opening riff, but besides that, nothing stands out. Consider it a less cool version of Cast Down the Heretic. Same thing with the next song with a name way too long for me to say. The long-name song which will just call Chapter does have some considerably cooler parts though is more well-execute than Burning Pits. Good song. Next is Lashed to the Slave Stick, probably the most different song on the whole album. Sure it's brutal and the vocals are heavy as hell as usual, but instead of the usual blastbeats with crazy fast riffs followed by a slow-downed badass part followed by more blastbeats with crazy speed and fast vocals, we get...a mid-tempoed song that almost seems like a Morbid Angel song. Riffs are strong and fairly repetitive, drumming is more straight double bass...it's very straight-forward death metal.
Spawn of Uamenti is a short interlude that serves no real purpose but to break up the action. The title track starts excellently, with some quick brutality, then a slow part with only a guitar melody...and they build off that very very well. It works well. Then the riffs after are in the same fashion as the rest album, but are more catchy and well-put together. Then...the song falls back into the standard songwriting style.
The last song is a good one...it combines a lot of more ominous sound effects, has really cool lyrics, more awesome riffs on par with Cast Down the Heretic, and the songwriting is mixed up a little bit more than the other songs. This song is worth it, definitely.
Overall, if you've heard Cast Down the Heretic and Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten, you've pretty much heard everything this album hast to offer. Those two offerings are strong enough to warrant a purchase, just don't expect anything mindblowing. It's great fun and awesome to listen to occassionally, but it's too repetitive to truly stand out.
Highlights: Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten, Cast Down the Heretic, Sacrifice unto Sebek
After living with this CD for several months I have to say to myself: “This is great, but haven’t I heard this before?”, and I am unhappy to feel that way about one of the few American death metal bands worth my time. Nile are still head and shoulders above most of the USDM hordes, don’t get me wrong, but there is a pronounced “Been there done that,” feel to this album.
We still have lengthy Egyptian-influenced song titles and meticulously-researched lyrical matter as only Karl Sanders can deliver, and still have insanely fast drum work (courtesy of new recruit George Kollias) driving numerous riffs flying by at roughly light speed. We still have Egyptian/Middle Eastern-sounding scales being utilized to lethal effect, and both Karl and Dallas have progressed into the realm of godliness occupied by the likes of Yngwie Malmsteen in his prime. And of course those ultra-evil demonic grunts and growls that cannot possibly be coming from human throats that require the lyric sheet as always to decipher (though Dallas sounds far more coherent this time around). Yes, the elements are all there for greatness, yet somehow…the feeling is not quite there.
After an eerie Turkish baglama saz intro piece we are assaulted by the overwhelming rush of “Cast Down The Heretic”, spearheaded by Kollias’ devastating blasting—this man has got to be a cyborg or something. But he is more in the background than I’d like to hear him—Karl has mentioned that they felt the guitars were buried underneath the drums on “In Their Darkened Shrines” and I think this is them overcompensating for that. That aside, wow…this song will tear your head off every time. The lengthy tradeoff solo section is dazzling in its unbridled virtuosity, with sweep picking and breathtaking runs all over the fretboard left and right. The chant of the title is very typical Nile near the end, their customary crowd-pleasing sing-along. The following are some other highlights of the CD.
“Sacrifice Unto Sebek” is much shorter than “Cast Down…” and not as sweet as it is vicious and head-crushing. We have here a concise death metal blast about sacrificing to the crocodile god of the underworld with a crazed whammy bar break that ends as suddenly as it starts, and it reminds me of a military surgical strike—in and out before the enemy knows what hits them. How can you not like a song about feeding people to Nile crocodiles?
“User-Maat-Re” is a doom-laden epic that trudges along on a deliberate path of merciless and unrelenting destruction. It well conveys the despairing feeling of a man trying to live up to his father’s impossible legacy and failing in his own mind no matter how well he does with its dark and menacing riffs and dynamics. The vocals at the end are almost totally incoherent they are so deep and distorted. “User-Maat-Re, thou hast done NOTHING!”
“The Burning Pits of the Du’at” is described by Karl in the liner notes as the song he feared would end his career, and it is obvious as to why that is from the first listen to this song. It is fiendishly faster (if you can imagine that) than usual, and maintains that furious pace virtually from start to finish with choppy riffs galore. If it were any other band this would be boring, but Nile make it work with their usual creative arrangements of riffs, riffs that Karl says hurt him terribly at first to play consistently at that tempo. And some nasty lyrical images of what people could expect when in the Du’at (the Egyptian underworld, equivalent to the Greek Hades and Norse Hel) make this shudder-worthy too.
“Lashed to the Slave Stick” is as close to a straightforward thrash metal tune that I’ve yet heard from Nile, but features catchy riffs and a relatively memorable arrangement. What, Nile, memorable, you ask? It has happened in this tune—no blast beats in sight and a more approachable tempo that cruises along very smoothly. The swirling screams of pain at the ending of this track are hair-raising, too.
“Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten” is a creepy album closer with a lyrical theme heavily inspired by the late, great Robert E. Howard’s fantasy writings about the snake-men of the Atlantean age who strove to destroy the race of man. It has an appropriately menacing and dark feel to it and climaxes with a hair-raising, screaming vocal near the end by Dallas about how he awaits the day when the children of the snake will rise again to destroy all that man has wrought, and you feel he means it.
Neil Kernon’s production is usually excellent, but the guitars dominate most everything on this CD—the bass is, as usual, drowned out and the drums are further in the background than usual on an album of this sort, as mentioned before. The vocals are actually just beneath the guitars, which is surprising--NIle's vocals are usually pretty prominent. I could’ve done with a more balanced mix, myself, but Neil got paid so this is what we got. I don’t expect to hear the bass on death metal albums, but the drums are just as important as the guitars in the grand scheme of things in music this extreme. Even when they’re obviously triggered as is standard operating procedure, you have to be able to hear them, which is not the case here. And with a player as incredible as George Kollias obviously is, this is a disservice to him.
In short, Nile need to reevaluate where they are going from here on out, because while they are still at the head of the pack, there are others who are eager to overtake them. Not too many, but they are there, and something needs to be done before Nile descend into a parody of what they once were. And I would hate to see that happen.
I've tended to stay away from Death Metal for a few reasons, that being the vocals, the gore-obsessed lyrics (They don't offend me, but they do bore me) and the lack of invention in this genre. But having read about Nile, and their unique lyrical themes, I decided to give them a go, and I'm very glad I did.
The riffs in this album are amazing. They are generally just super fast and insane, however, Sanders and Toller-Wade do slow down once in a while, to great effect. Normally though, these two amazing guitarists are blasting through insane harmonic minor/dimished scale runs, or chugging through blistering low tuned riffs. There's plenty of variety in the fast riffs, which is a good thing, as too many DM riffs are just "Look how fast I can tremelo pick!" style riffs. There's the occaisonal acoustic bit too, which are all very tastefully put in. Nothing worse then a band overloading on Acoustic bits.
The riffs are backed up by some really good, clean fast drumming. The drummer is great, and while he is capable of some stupidly fast beats and fills, he also knows when to slow down, which is a very good thing. The vocals are the final thing to add to this cacophony. (the bass is there, but it's in a background role, for the most part just doubling the guitars) They are the generic death metal vocals unfortunately, but they are pretty fierce, and the 3 vocalists are used to great effect, creating a frightening blast of different voices all at once.
WHile normally I don't mention lyrics, they are extremely good in this band, so I'll mention. As I'm sure you know, these lyrics are all Egyptian themed, and all extremely well written. They use the whole Old Style of language, lots of Thees thous and haths, and it works really well. Sanders is kind enough to put detailed liner notes in the booklet, which really help explain the lyrics, and which are quite interesting reading by themselves too.
So, in conclusion, i'd like to point out something. I'm not a death metal expert, so what sounds insane to me might just sound old and boring to you. Regardless though, I think this is a great and highly varied DM album, full of cool riffs, amazing drumming and interesting lyrics. HIghly essential death metal.
Nile. If you’re into death metal, then you know that band. They revitalized the scene in 1998 with the brutal and blackened masterpiece of Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka, an absolutely essential album. If you do not happen to own it, go buy it, now, and come back to read this review later.
Dum de de dum.
Back? Good, now I can continue. Y’see, it’s rather hard to properly follow up an album like Nephren-Ka. Some bands manage, some bands don’t. After stumbling slightly (only slightly) with the follow-up, Black Seeds of Vengeance, they reoriented themselves and focused their Egyptian-tainted death metal attack to bring us their second best album, In Their Darkened Shrines, home to the four-part story-driven epic piece, In Their Darkened Shrines, and the brilliant Unas Slayer of the Gods. Surely, this was their creative peak, as they combined even more complex Egyptian instrumentation and more obscure Egyptian mythology with über-brutal Suffocation-style death metal.
It seems that In Their Darkened Shrines was indeed their creative peak, because Annihilation of the Wicked, while by no means a terrible album, falls FAR short of the incredible standards set by Nile’s pedigree.
The production is flat and lifeless, a lot like the production on Black Seeds of Vengeance, but with more focus on the guitars than that album had, luckily. The drums are way back in the mix, but you can still hear them pretty well.
The songwriting has degenerated massively. You can really predict everything if you’ve listened to enough Nile. The intro is an… c’mon… you guessed it, Egyptian instrumental. Then they blast out of the gate with my favorite song on the album, Cast Down the Heretic. It’s got brutality, frantic energy, good performances from all three vocalists, and a stellar performance from the new drummer, who kicks ass, but so do about three thousand other death metal drummers.
Next song, Sacrifice unto Sebek. Hmm, slower intro, cut into more blasting, more complex riffing, more growls. Cool break around 2:20, I think that’s about it, supported by… yes indeedy, keyboards playing a small set of notes extended to make them sound dramatic. First ‘epic’ song of the album shows up now. Let’s see. The general construction of the first riffset is stolen completely off of Unas Slayer of the Gods, as are the drum fills. Yadda yadda, abuse of hi-hat and cymbals, slower double-bassing, riffs timed with growls from either Sanders or the bassist. Oh whee.
This reveals the big flaw of the album: You’ve heard all of this before. You’ve heard the ‘epic’songs in In Their Darkened Shrines, the riffing in countless other records, the no-longer-innovative combination of Egyptian instrumentals with death metal blasting… this wasn’t a problem before In Their Darkened Shrines, because they hadn’t any real epic songs at that point, but now they’ve run out of things to do with death metal.
Admittedly, death metal itself is largely filled with crocks of boring, regressive shit (Origin for one), but the best death metal bands know that this doesn’t matter and write killer songs, and great riffs to make us forget about it. However, Nile was seen as an INNOVATOR on the scene back when they arrived, like I noted, and have now stagnated. Those who say things like 'Of course Nile didn't change! Would you want Slayer to change?' are missing the point- Nile have carved out their little niche of innovation and are refusing to take anything further. It's stupid.
Despite their utter lack of progression, they can still write a couple good tunes, like Cast Down the Heretic, Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten, and The Burning Pits of the Duat.
Final Note: Some of these song titles are bordering on parody. Some person with much time to waste should program a Nile song title generator, if one doesn't already exist.
(originally written by myself for metalreviews.com)
So, its finally here. Nile has almost tortured the the fans for having to wait 3 fucking years. After In their darkened shrines, everyone wanted more Nile. ITDS was for many the album of the year, with super technical songs like Execration text and long epics like Unas, slayer of the gods. Some said that album would be impossible to top. But those peolple were wrong.
The album starts off with a spooky sounding instrumental "Dusk falls upon the temple of the serpent on the mount of sunrise". This is a cool acustic guitar song, reminds me a lot of some off the stuff off Karl Sanders`s Saurian meditation solo album. There isn`t really much more to say about this song, other than it fits as an intro and leaves you totally unprepeared for what to come........
Boom! Cast down the heretic starts blasting with insane speed! This song really shows why George Kollias got the job as the new Nile drummer. The guy is a fucking rocket, probably even faster than Tony! The vocals are almost none stop through the whole song with all three vocalist ( Karl, Dallas and Jon) trading lines all the time. Great! Every Nile fan is shure to be satisfied with this song, hell, the song even has a 3 minute long solo! Probably the best solo ever done by Nile!
Next is Sacrifice unto Sebek. Holy shit this thing is fast! Did i say that "Cast" showed why George is the new Nile drummer? Well this song is an even better example. And that riff at around 2:00! Now that`s a riff! This song is fast but short, it only lasts for 3 minutes.
Now its time for User maat re. Those peolpe who wanted another Epic like Unas can now start celebrating. This song has it all, an acustic intro, ultra cool riffing and drumming, crushing vocals, and an amazing solo, and last but not least, it last around 9 minutes. But do not fear, it`s not a copy of Unas, not at all, it`s just that it got all the things that made Unas so great. Lyricaly, its about the Pharao Rames ||. The whole song is about all the great deeds he have done for his empire, trying to fill his father`s shoes. But in the end, he always hears his fathers voice inside his head telling him " Thou hast done nothing".
And along comes The burning pits of Duat. Execration Text part 2? Not really, but it`s just as good and technical. In the booklet, Karl writes that this song was almost impossible to nail perfectly and that he for a short time was fearing it would end his career, as his wrist was hurting while playing it. But they nailed it at last, which i am eternally happy for, as it is one of the best and fastest songs on the record.
Then comes Chapter of obeisance........ In my opinion, this is the least fantastic songs on the record (not cunting the instrumentals.) I can`t really tell why as it has got everything a good Nile song needs except something Egypt inspired riff, but that shouldn`t be holding it back, as there is plenty of other great less Egyptic Nile. Maybe this one will grow on me the more i listen to it.
Next up is Lashed to the slavestick. This is a little more straight forward Death metal track, at least compared to other Nile songs. Unfortunatly, no solo on this one. This song was published as a promo track at the Relapse site before the album came out. Some people freaked, thinking Nile had turned into Deeds of flesh. I will have to disagree, as the track is not even close to being Deeds of flesh. Just more straight forward ( I am not saying Deeds of flesh suck). Great song anyway.
Suddenly, it says boom! and Lashed is over and goes into Spawn of Uamenti. This is just an short instrumental with some spooky sounds of reptiles. I am not really shure if fits as an outro to Lashed, but it builds up a nice atmosphere for next song.....
And finally we are at the tittel track. This one starts off much like "Cast", but suddenly fades into a nice little lead part. The lead continius as the second guitar and drums joins in at 00: 48. This is just so fucking nice to listen to, definitly my favorite part of the whole album! Overall, it is not only that part that is my favorite, it`s the whole song in general. George shows yet again what an amazing drummer he is with insane dobbel bass and lots of tempo changes. And at the end of the song, the fantastic riff returns.......Flawless song!
But it`s not over yet. There is still one more epic left, lasting almost ten minutes. The songs name is Von Unnassprechlichen Kulten, which is German, and translates into "Of the unspeakalbe cults". The song is the slowest on the album, and shows an incredible vocal performance by Dallas, especally after the solo. A great song to finish off the album of the year.
Well well well… this one’s been a long time coming. 3 years and yet another drummer change after In Their Darkened Shrines, Nile has once again unleashed some seriously punishing death metal upon us. Overrated? Maybe. Good? Fuck yes.
As usual, there are a few hints of so-called “Egyptian” music here, which is really just some middle-eastern influence, since no one really knows what any music made by the ancient Egyptians would have sounded like. This time though, they’re less prominent, so it seems Nile have finally realized that they’re much better when they simply go about the business of making epic death metal.
As ever with this type of metal, the quality of drumming is always a prominent issue, and obviously a new drummer means quite a lot. So, does this George Kollias guy live up to the standard set down by his predecessors? Well, to put it blunty, yes. This guy can pump out the double-kick with the best of them, as well as slowing down to deliver some serious heaviness, and best of all, he’s not hampered by the annoying washed-out kickdrum sound which sometimes plagued ITDS.
It also seems the band have decided to veer away from short, pointless songs. There’s 10 tracks here, two of which are short interludes, and the other 8 being almost universally long and developed. “Sacrifice Unto Sebek”, “The Burning Pits Of The Duat” and “Lashed To The Slave Stick” fill the quota for shorter tracks, while the rest stretch out to rival previous epics like “To Dream of Ur” and “Unas, Slayer of the Gods”. In particular, the last two tracks and “User-Maat-Re” are all around 9 minutes, yet somehow never become boring or overlong. The trick is that Nile focuses more on atmosphere than compact brutality – most death metal bands would induce terminal boredom if they tried to write a 9 minute song, but Nile always seems to pull it off. In fact, to reiterate my previous statement, they’re better off when they do this sort of thing. Overall, Annihilation Of The Wicked is their strongest album since Amongst The Catacombs… and even surpasses that album by integrating the epic structures incorporated on the two intervening albums (or maybe just re-introduced from Festivals Of Atonement) and infusing them into the framework of hyperspeed chaos.
Of course, they couldn’t help coming up with some ridiculously long song titles too, which are just silly. But I’ll let them get away with it, yet again…
If you haven't heard any Nile, stop reading this review and do so now. Few bands have made me remember my mummified interest in death metal so poignantly as these South Carolina headbangers.
"Annihilation of the Wicked" is every bit as an awesome album as say "In Their Darkened Shrines" as it has all the grand hallmarks of a Nile landmark: take unnerving Egyptian-themed samples, manic drum pieces, and some of the best death guitaring in American death today, and lambast it with a slew of growls so deep you'll swear you are hearing the voices of the embalmed calling from beneath depths of fathomless, windblown sand. The egyptian-history/mythology lyrics are as interesting, unique, and oddly fitting as before, and none of this takes away from the music.
Take the title track: "Annihilation of the Wicked" spews forth some softer guitar messings before a full-blown set of face-tearing riffs spew forth with frantic double-bass and a wailing guitar lick that sounds like a lonely jackal howling mournfully beneath the desert stars. If a nine minute epic like this hasn't got you, nothing will! "The Burning Pits of The Duat" is hellish in its manic intensity, and the guitar harmonies a little into "Sacrifice Unto Sebek" had a friend and I laughing with unbridled joy at the swankness of it all. "Cast Down The Heretic" has a solo so long and utterly breath-taking it could be a mini-song of it's own, and the simply grandoise, slower-paced riffage on "Unser-Maat-Re" sounds a little like a Mastodon song lost on a desert crossing past the oasis.
All in all, Nile simply are one of the most entertaining bands to have a release this year so far. It might be I enjoy their death metal so much, or it might be they have built the death metal equivlent of the pyramids at Giza: trasncendental monuments of man, only able to by timeworn yet never destroyed. The obelisk of death metal called Nile, should they keep pumping out simply neuron-melting metal such as this, will cast a shadow over all acts for eternity, just as the pyramids do on the architects of today.
Wow, has it been a long time or what?! They left us with two amazing albums, and we were just begging for more! Well, three years of waiting and finally we have "Annihilation Of The Wicked". With this album you can notice a change right away from a first listen. One of the first things you're gonna notice is that Nile are more aggressive this time around (not that they weren't), but, I mean less instrumentals in their songs. Although some people liked those wicked egyptian instrumentals (like me), it seems that they wanted to reduce the number of those and supply more straight foward death metal, the Nile way. Like a previous review mentioned, Nile headed for the more "rawer" sound of their demo days, and it just seems perfect! Imagine any Nile album and take any song (not instrumental) and take away the egyptian parts, and make it a little more aggressive (like you can) , and you have these new songs. Not that it's a bad thing, not all, like any Nile song, they seem just a wall of sound at first, but once you get the hang of it, and inmerse yourself in the music, you can tell that each song is different, even if anyone says they sound the same. Even me, when I heard them for the first time, I didn't like them right away.
This is perfect for when you feel like banging your head, or for those times when you think you're a drummer (like me) and just wants to bang stuff fast and hard. The song titles still are quite long, but I don't care, I just feel sorry for Sanders when he's announcing the songs. "Lashed To The Slave Stick" is really a great song, if that's the first song you get to listen then you are really gonna get sucked in. "Cast Down The Heretic" is a great way to start the album after the intro, a nice way to bash that face in! The title track really surprised me, slowing down and just sounding heavy, nice fucking song. The last track, "Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten" also continues the slow trend of the previous track, but the drum pedals just seem non-stop. And lets not forget that fucking great solo near the end of the song! Another aspect I like about this album is that the drums sound different, a more crisp sound, really adding a more clear layer to the music and making it more heavy in my opinion.
Other tracks I've kept repeating: "The Burning Pits Of The Duat", "User-Maat-Re", oh Hell, I liked the whole album, I just pointed out my favorites. But seriously, Nile are back, so be fucking prepared!!
Nile is back and they haven't forgot the brutality that has made them death metal favourites over the course of their 12-year career. Nearly everything they've done has been accepted with open arms from the metal community because of the work that has been put into it. The band works hard and it shows through their music.
It has been three years since the release of 'In Their Darkened Shrines' and in that time Nile was busy touring and writing material. The album feels a lot like 'In Their Darkened Shrines' only with a lot more influence from their earlier, more raw work. The production is fantastic and has all parts of the band blended in well together with no one instrument above the others. The vocals of Karl Sanders shine throughout as he proves again why he is one of the best vocalists in death metal. Quick guitar, technical solos and pounding drums are again the mainstay of Nile. Although this time the band has gone for a more melodic, yet brutal sound.
The highlights of this album are without a doubt "Chapter Of Obeisance Before Giving Breath To The Inert One In The Presence Of The Crescent Shaped Horns" (try saying that in one breath), "Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten" and the title track. While their is no one standout epic such as "Unas" was on 'In Their Darkened Shrines', at least three of the tracks on this album try to imitate the same feel it had.
If you liked Nile before you will continue to appreciate their contributions to the metal world. If you didn't like Nile now is as good a time as any to try again, it doesn't get much better than this.
To tell the truth, I was really worried about this album. At first I didn't know what to expect, then they released the track "Lashed to the Slave Stick" on the internet to download. That put a bad taste in my mouth. It seemed very generic and boring sounding. The riffs were very groove oriented, and no longer frantic.
However, to my pleasant surprise, the rest of this album kicked my ass. It starts out with some little guitar piece, leaving the listener in suspense until the second track kicks in. And it sure does kick in, it'll kick your ass all over the place. Let's see, let's get our "Nile Checklist" out. Frantic? Yes. Brutal? Yes. Egyptian sounding? Yes. Low-fucking-vocals? You fucking bet.
After a couple tracks, we get into the first epic track of the album, which will smack you upside the head since it rules so much. Nile's new drummer George Kollias shines quite well on this release. His double kicking is exceptionally fast. However, I didn't notice a lot of blastbeats on the album. Not exactly a good thing, nor is it bad, but Nile's always had lots of great blastbeat sections in their songs, which might disappoint some. But god damn, some of the double kicking on this album is so fast it doesn't even matter.
Something I noticed about this album when compared to previous Nile releases is that the little Egyptian sounding interludes that Nile is known for don't seem as forced within the songs. They seem to be getting better over time with the flow of their albums. On "Black Seeds of Vengeance", although it was a fantastic album, the interludes seemed a bit random at times. Here they flow in a bit smoother, which definitely deserves props.
On the album, there's the odd weak riff here and there (aside from the previous mentioned track which sucked), but they are countered and destroyed with frantic fret board runs. Karl Sanders hasn't lost his signature touch.
The album closes of quite nicely with two more epic tracks, one being the title track. The album is very solid, and has satisfied me as a Nile fan and a death metal fan in general. They've shown they can evolve and progress with their unique style of brutal death metal. I’ve read that a lot of people were expecting an “In Their Darkened Shrines Part II”, which this is not, but it is rather just a solid release that is still very much in Nile’s vein. I think I'll try to get my hands on the special limited edition of the album, because I know it will be worth my cash.