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I wasn’t first thinking about writing a review of yet another Nile album, but that changed when I started listening to “In Their Darkened Shrines”, which is the third full length from this American death metal band. Two things came to my mind after the first few spins of this vinyl. First thing was that Nile is in my opinion the strongest and most important US death metal band ever since Morbid Angel has done their A-D albums. And my second thought was that “In Their Darkened Shrines” definitely belongs to my favourite Nile albums and it is as good – who knows, maybe in some aspects it’s even better – as “Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka”, which used to be my number one. So, I started writing a few words on it.
It’s such a spectacular and damn well composed album that it’s hard to imagine it can get any better than this! It’s fantastic that the brutal and technical aspect of death metal, which became Nile’s trademark on “In Their Darkened Shrines,” became even denser and more ferocious and that they managed to increase the quality level again. Fast parts sounded even faster. It all sounds sooo brutal, but better written than before, with amazing dual work of Karl Sanders and (then new in the band) Dallas Toler-Wade. And the characteristic Nile’ish monumental, epic parts with orchestral passages are some of the best that this band has ever recorded. There’s also more of them than ever before. It seems like Nile decided for “In Their Darkened Shrines” to be their most immense and epic album, with songs like “Unas, Slayer of the Gods”, “Sarcophagus”, “I Whisper in the Ear of the Dead” or the truly spectacular quadrilogy of the title track. These songs alone make me think of the whole album as the best Nile effort, even better than the almost perfect debut album.
Really, every song here is a beast. I love these fast and technical tracks, with amazing precise playing (fantastic drumming of Tony Laureano and killer guitar duel of Karl and Dallas) and such a powerful sound. They fuckin crush with no mercy and really blow the speakers out. I suppose “The Blessed Dead” is the best from them all, it’s such a great song. But “Kheftiu Asar Butchiu” also leaves no listener careless. But as said, the main strength of this album lies in these epic songs. “Sarcophagus” is simply a masterpiece of epic, orchestral death metal. “Unas, Slayer of the Gods” is probably the best song Nile has ever written. This 12 minutes long beast has everything fans of this band love – there are thick, brutal parts, slow pieces, orchestral arrangements and heavy stuff. And it’s been arranged and performed in the most spectacular and impressive way I’ve ever heard. And the title track, which is split on four parts, brings exactly the same feeling.
Yeah, I can speak only in super positive words about “In Their Darkened Shrines”. This is one of the best death metal albums ever written and I dare to say that Nile will never manage to surpass its excellence. Although I do hope I am wrong haha!
Standout tracks: “The Blessed Dead”, “Unas, Slayer of the Gods”, “Sarcophagus”, “I Whisper in the Ear of the Dead”
Final rate: 95/100
Undoubtedly the band's underrated classic that any self-respecting fan of death metal should be ashamed not to own. Of course, Annihilation Of The Wicked did get these guys the proper attention that they deserved not to mention the first album that saw the band at their most brutal and raw, but this album by far demonstrates each and every unique element of this band coming together to full fruition plus throughout their discography, this is arguably where they were at their strongest and tightest when it comes to songwriting and intensity. Also the blend of the fast and slow elements that make up the majority of Nile's music is just perfect and on full force here. The slightly thin production might take some getting used to initially and leave a bit to be desired but what the heck. Nothing much to worry about really plus It's pretty good for what it is at the end of the day and finally, it's the music that ultimately matters. I'll just leave it at that.
Now one may state that little to no change has occurred in the case of Nile’s discography, at which point I would have to disagree. The changes have been quite subtle but they’re there for sure. With this release, they officially cemented their place in death metal history as one of the top-notch bands of the genre, not to mention actually bringing something new and refreshing to the genre of death metal, especially at the time this album was released. “The Blessed Dead” is a brilliant start to the album with some really sick riffs and the intro of “Execration Text” has some of the most breakneck riffing speeds I've heard in death metal in quite a while. “Wind Of Hours” and “Churning The Maelstrom” have the trademark Nile sound with the pummeling brutality that we all know them for and of course “Sarcophagus” (what a goddamn mid-section!) “Unas Slayer Of The Gods”, not to mention the godly 19 minute long title track (almost playing out like the best ancient war march in history, bleeding atmosphere from every pore along with some crazy drum dynamics sprinkled with some really fantastic melodic bits as well) is pretty much the epitome of epic death metal finesse with some super-catchy riffs to boot. Don't be surprised if you find yourself humming along to a few of the melodies after a couple of spins. For all you purists scoffing at the supposedly idiotic fact that death metal can be epic, open your goddamn minds and listen to the songs you morons! Even "I Whisper In The Year Of The Dead" has a really mystical and ethereal aura about it towards the end. Rest assured that the epic factor of the two aforementioned songs along with their watertight songwriting skills are something most other bands would kill to possess. George Kollais is at his absolute kit-pounding best and the guitars possess a boatload of variety all around. Simply superb stuff. Then again, variety has never been a problem for Nile.
Finally, most fans will have their own favourite albums and while I tend to seesaw between this album and Those Whom The Gods Detest for my Nile fix most of the time with their other albums working their way into my listening cycle every now and then, I have to say that concerning the early era of the band, this album is right up there with all the classics of the genre. Most fans gravitate towards their seminal 2005 release Annihilation Of The Wicked, but I for one would proudly say that this underrated gem is light years ahead of that one for sure. So many generic death metal albums out there have little to no variety blurring into a faceless mass of similar songs towards the end, but this album is a real death metal haven of varied treats. So whether you're a Nile fan or just a casual death metal fan, kindly get this album without further ado and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about.
'In Their Darkened Shrines' is an irredeemably horrible album on numerous levels, all of which I feel the need to explore in hopes of making Colonel Sanders feel the shame I feel while listening to this, the nadir of his musical career.
Let's begin at the most unimportant but nonetheless painful aspect: the murky production, yet another step down from 'Black Seeds Of Vengeance', which transforms even the most lucid sections into a meaningless jumble of perpetually confused notes. It's greatly similar to the production of Hate Eternal: messy and claustrophobic with a goal of heaviness, and when that goal is thought to be reached, there's no clue on the part of the producer what else to do. The instruments just sort of brutishly mash against each other in a demented mockery of what is supposed to be 'intelligent' death metal.
Perhaps, though, it fits the equally confused and muddy songwriting. Nile finds themselves on this album at the precise crossroads where neverending masturbation and total boredom meet and coalesce into something that's both frightfully pretentious and stunningly dull. The pretense is divided into two parts. First and most obviously are the fast death metal sections laced with meaningless guitar theatrics. In a similar way that every color put together results in an indistinguishable brown, or how very fast things eventually become a monotone drone, these fits of extreme technicality are eventually no longer recognizable as anything other than a hand moving up and down a guitar neck very quickly; no patterns of clever riffcraft can be found and the experience is rendered meaningless as a result. The second and more insidious breed of pretense is when Nile attempts to conjure some specter of atmosphere, generally through chanted vocals, overbearing keyboards, or slow tempos. While those three items might be ingredients that can be used in an epic piece, in this case it's like trying to paint using the brush jammed squarely into your fist. The result is clumsy, awkward, and vaguely embarrassing for all parties involved. It totally lacks subtlety and seems more like an effort to 'sound Egyptian' through carefully painting by numbers rather than using a hint of inspiration.
Riffs manage to be everywhere and nowhere at once; it's hard to distinguish between notes in the faster and melodically tighter sections due to the murky production, and on the occasion that you can properly hear a riff in full, there's nothing to be excited about. An Egyptian-sounding scale is occasionally whipped out in an attempt to spice up what otherwise is totally bland and uninteresting technical death metal, but the results of that action are predictably cheap and trite-sounding. Vocals are a passionless, monotone growl that is always present due to the excruciatingly verbose lyrics. The vocals are simply another sound that adds to the noise of the record, contributing nothing of meaning to the work. On the lyrics: apparently it took two years to compose the lyrics to this album, and it certainly doesn't show at all. Beyond the subject matter, what is so significant in these lyrics? Sanders does nothing but regurgitate the Egyptian mythos without adding anything to the meaning of the stories, showing just how paper-thin the novelty of this band is.
The drums are perhaps the biggest crime, really, though I suppose considering the rest of the music I can hardly blame them more than anything else. Like on 'Black Seeds Of Vengeance', they're almost exclusively composed of very fast blast beats constantly broken up by technical fills. 'Constant' is not hyperbole; it seems that Tony Laureano can't go for five seconds on this album without feeling the need to grind things to a halt with tom or cymbal runs. It manages to reduce the amount of natural flow this album has from zero into negative territory; it actually makes you feel discombobulated after you turn the CD off. Which, if you have any taste at all, is before it even enters your stereo.
This has no redeeming qualities. It is garbage.
This is the third release that I have bought from South Carolina brutal and technical death metal band Nile, and I am truly satisfied. The band’s mastery of their craft is second to none. Though this is the earliest of the three releases that I have bought of Nile’s (the other two being Annihilation of the Wicked and Ithyphallic) it has become my favorite with Annihilation of the Wicked in an extremely close second.
The band’s use of both American death metal and epic Egyptian classical music blend together greatly to form an unrelenting torrent of brutality as the classical music becomes brutal and the death metal becomes beautiful. This is particularly prevalent in track ‘Unas Slayer of the Gods’ where Egyptian music breaks through the torrents of drum and guitar. Also, the classical music is quashed at another point by the brutal drums and guitars. This is not a type of symphonic death metal, Nile is not attempting to form another subgenre in the subgenre that is death metal, but Nile creates an atmosphere with their use of Egyptian music. This in no way detracts from the brutality of the release but enhances it. Every song does not involve Egyptian music, as in the songs ‘The Blessed Dead’ and ‘Churning the Maelstrom’ but the Egyptian influence is there in the lyrics of each song.
The vocals of this album are, like every Nile release, top notch mainly because of their use of multiple vocalists who all have about the same amount of time on microphone. The differences in pitch, lyrics that are said by all vocalists, and the screams are all extremely brutal and the sound of the vocals is balanced perfectly with the music so that they do not detract from the rest of the music and they are never too low to hear.
The guitars on this album are also truly amazing. The chug, the wail, they cry, they pound, they do almost anything and Nile’s mastery of the guitar comes out in this album as the guitar leads incessantly change and modify throughout the songs to the point that every song seems to involve two or three songs just by the guitars.
The drumming is also masterful. The song ‘The Blessed Dead’ kicks in with brisk drumming and almost constant double bass pedal kicking throughout. The production of the drumming is sharp, clear, and does not interfere with the rest of the sound. The balance of production in general is perfect and really shows in track eight, ‘Winds of Horus’. Any fan of Nile should go out and buy this album to revel in its glory for this truly is one of Nile’s greatest offerings. The songwriting, musicianship, experimentation with the blending of different music types, and power in every song is second to none.
Every song on this album is great, but these are some standout songs: ‘The Blessed Dead’, ‘Sarcophagus’, ‘Unas Slayer of the Gods’, ‘Wind of Horus’.
Formed back in the mid-90's in South Carolina, Nile continues to progress in their sound and style. This is their third album (following Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka and Black Seeds of Vengeance) and the band continues with their no nonsense, intense death metal. Those who had the pleasure of witnessing their first two albums (or their spectacular demo, In the Beginning) will be sure to enjoy this onslaught of vicious death metal.
The band waste no time and kick in with 'The Blessed Dead' and it's amazing to hear how much better the band actually sound in terms of songwriting and instrumentation. The guitar tones are lethal, and new drummer Tony Laureano (formerly of Angelcorpse) just tears his kit apart. Tony was actually the first thing to capture my attention, because it's almost impossible not to hear the guy just slamming away on his skins. His performance is nothing short of spectacular, and the riffs unleashed by Karl Sanders and Dallas Toler-Wade are devastating.
'Execration Text' is up next, and I simply fell in love with this song the second I heard it. I couldn't believe my ears as the second riff in the song is simply surreal. In fact, all of the riffs are killer-highly melodic and extremely technical. Dallas Toler-Wade is responsible for this beautiful piece of metal as he wrote the music for it, and it's amazing to see how well he's adapted to the Nile approach. Outstanding from start to finish, this song will leave you begging for more. Thankfully, you'll only have to beg for about two seconds...
Track three on the album 'Sarcophagus' sees the pace slow down considerably, with the band exploring furthermore with slower, more grind rhythms. The vocals are the highlight in this song, as all three vocalists demonstrate their skills. Speaking of which, former lead vocalist Chief Spires has been replaced by Jon Vesano, who also took up bass duties for the band. He's not as powerful as Karl, and he doesn't even come close to Dallas' inhuman approach, but he still does a fine job. The song ends with some cool Egyptian melodies and some excellent double-bass work from Tony Laureano.
A short but insane drum intro sets the pace for track four 'Kheftiu Asar Butchiu', which I consider to be the finest song in Nile's history. The guitars slam you from left to right, up and down, and the drumming will have you picking your jaw up from the floor. This song is 3 minutes and 52 seconds of pure ass kicking death metal. In my 12 years of listening to this genre of music, never have I witnessed such a high level of pain delivered in just one song. The vocal tradeoffs are outstanding, the drum work is the best you could ever wish to hear, and the riffs are simply mesmerizing. My favorite section in this song is probably the breakdown, in which Tony shows us what most drummers tend to overlook when sitting behind the kit-cymbals. The cymbal work here is simply beautiful, and the build up to the horrific outro is spectacular, with all three vocalists singing 'Kheftiu Asar Butchiu' in unison. It feels like you're left alone to meet your death in one of the abandoned pyramids. Hats off to Karl Sanders for writing what I consider to be one of the best songs in the history of death metal. Hell, no one even comes close to this one...
How many of you out there have heard a 12 minute epic death metal song? Not too many of you I would guess, as I can't recall anyone doing such a thing before. 'Unas, Slayer of the Gods' was my first time too, and man, this song has unbelievable written all over it. A sweet acoustic intro is the first thing come out of your speakers, and just when you're caught in the beauty of it all, insane blast beats and furious riffs come blazing towards you like napalm flame. It's like being caught with your pants down. This song has so many different sections that I'm not even going to try to go over them all, you have to hear it for yourself to believe it. There is one thing that I will say, however-the horn section in the song is brilliant. Tony Laureano delivers a stunning kick drum solo in the breakdown and.. ah, I should just skip to track six, which is called 'Churning the Maelstrom', which is exactly what the band does. Nothing too special here, just outstanding death metal from start to finish, with an equally outstanding guitar solo.
'I Whisper in the Ear of the Dead' is quite possibly the most haunting song on the album. Slow and brutal is the formula here, with the band expanding their Egyptian approach even further. The Egyptian sounds that the band come up with are pretty amazing, as they make all of them themselves. Karl Sanders sounds like a demon from the underworld-his vocals are so low that chances are dogs probably hear it better than we do. My favorite vocalist in Nile is without a doubt Dallas, for the man has awesome strength and agility. But there is something about Karl's vocals that are hard to pass by-deep and powerful, the air rushing through his lungs creates a very horrific effect when used in slower songs.
Track eight 'Wind of Horus' is another highlight. Kicking in with creepy guitars and cymbal work, this song sets the mood for ancient Egypt perfectly. Another signature Dallas riff follows the intro, and all hell breaks loose in a furious onslaught of metal. Tony does a fine job of handling such a complex song, but it's the riffs that propel this machine of malice. Here we witness some of the best riffs in Nile's history, and the riff right before the melodic breakdown is one of the best I've ever heard in my life. All in all, another blinder from Nile.
Now this is where the album gets into some really interesting territory. 'In Their Darkened Shrines' consists of four songs, the first being 'Hall of Saurian Entombment', an instrumental piece. This can hardly be considered new for Nile, but everything is done so well and the atmosphere created is so perfect that the song (almost five minutes in length) doesn't come across as boring or dull, and sets the mood for track ten flawlessly. 'Invocation to Seditious Heresy' is another gem penned by Dallas Toler-Wade. It is a fine song in every aspect, with riffs that hammer you up and down. Tony Laureano does the business from behind the kit in the most genuine way-like I said before, it's nearly impossible not to hear the guy as he can capture your attention whenever he feels like it.
'Destruction of the Temple of the Enemies of Ra' starts with a vortex of haunting noises and voices. Tony is the first member to kick in with a brief drum solo, and when the rest of the band enters you should really duck for cover. It's so easy to feel the madness and panic the band wanted to create here as you can literally feel massive stone blocks crumbling on top of you. The riffs delivered in this pulverizing piece of beautiful noise are top notch to say the least, and combined with the unholy vocals of Dallas and Karl, they gain more definition and presence.
Not many bands sit down and think enough on how to end their albums. Nile is an exception. Without saying too much, 'Ruins' simply could not have been written any better than this. A slow instrumental piece with a fabulous guitar melody does the job perfectly for what I consider to be the best instrumental piece that the boys have ever written.
There you have it. Be sure not to miss this album, as it's guaranteed to leave you wanting more and more. Addicting from start to finish, I must have listened to the album over 200 times and I am nowhere near being sick of it. Most recent death metal releases simply lack power and aggression. There's enough power here to shake the very calcium off of your bones.
Having recently snapped up Nile's new album, I was highly impressed by the super fast riffing and blasting, the great songwriting and the clear and powerful production. A lot of people in forums I frequent urged me to go and get In Their Darkened Shrines, because "It's twice as good as annihilation."
So you can imagine it was with some excitement when I opened the packaging and popped the CD in. The CD starts off with a huge bang. The Blessed Dead is one of the best songs on the album, and one of the best nile songs full stop.There's a clever and sparse use of a choir, some really kick ass riffs. It's followed up by another kick ass song, Execration Text, which is full of super techincal riffs and blasting. It's all rather excellent stuff, but none really as good as the songs in Annihilation. While Annihilation had super lean, focused riffs, some of the songs sound quite bloated by comparison.
One good example would be Unas: Slayer of the Gods. Sure, there are some good parts in it, but most of it seems too layered, too big if you will. Now this will work well with some bands, but Brutal Death has never been about Big layered sounds. It's probably the worst song on the album, just really bloated and.. crappy.
Still, there's tonnes of great bits in here. SOme of the ambient parts are up there with the best stuff Nile's ever produced (On their last two albums, anyway..). Hall of Saurian Entombment is a damn good song, indeed the whole epic is good. Kheftiu Asar Butchiu is a awesome song as well, with some fearsome chants going around in it. Kick ass.
The drums are pretty good in this record. They're really tight, mixed up fairly loud, with I really like, and given a very clear production. THe guitars aren't quite as beefy as they are in Annihilation, but they're still excellent, clear, heavy and tight. They're fairly versatile, too, playing ambient stuff to super fast tremelo-picked parts, too slow, heavy chunking. THe bass must be there somewhere.. I can't tell where though, So I'll just assume it's doing a good job. Of course, the lyrics are high quality, with exstensive liner notes, full of fascinating reading.
I feel kinda guilty giving this album 82%. THere are lots of good parts, really good parts, but the occaisonal misguided epic bit drags it down a bit. Still, it's an album worth getting, althought for nile newcomers I would recommend they pick up Annihilation of the Wicked, becuase it's much better.
The first Nile album I ever heard was "Black Seeds of Vengeance". The minute I listened to it I took it out because I didn't like it. Hah, I was a fool. That album destroys. But anyways, My interest in Nile was almost at it's peak and when my friend purchased "In Their Darkened Shrines" I had to give it a listen and boy was I blown away. Now I have listened to the album all the way through more than 100 times. I listen to it about every day. Why Might you ask? well....
ITDS is assembled very well. The order of the tracks are great. The first track "The Blessed Dead" is amazing. It opens with some slow bends and choir voices and rips straight into a Harmonic Minor onslaught with blastbeats on top of it. It doesn't stop. 5 minutes of lightning fast death metal. The track just keeps going. Tony Laureano is pure machine and this song shows.
Next is "Execration Text" which all guitars on that track were recorded by Dallas-Toler Wade. Laureano once again shows his capabilities with drum rolls and blasts going constantly. The riffs in this song are very impressive and it rounds in at almost 3 minutes.
"Sarcophogus" is the next song and it's position is good just to give the listener some breathing room for about 5 minutes before you get your ass kicked again. This is one of Nile's catchiest songs. Super doom and low. The Pyramids around a bunch of mummies under the sunset destroying eachother can be pictured good to this song. The end is a very epic piece. Great riffs. Comes in at about 5 minutes.
"Kheftiu Asar Butchiu" is track 4 on this album and this is when you better be ready. They only warn you with a second long drum roll before you get your ass thrown in your face. This is probably one of my favorite tracks. It is super fast and inhuman. Tony Laureano goes all out on this one and Mr. Sanders and Wade really kick ass. The super low tuning is what a lot of people don't like, but on this song I think people of that feeling will change their mind. It is heavy. Really heavy and super fast. Nonstop. About 4 minutes long.
The next track is probably my favorite "Unas, Slayer of the gods". Boy is this epic. This is one of the best death metal songs ever written. The clean beginning playing Candlemass's riff in "The Well of souls" is amazing. I don;t care for musicians taking other musicians work, but this was a tribute riff and Karl really showed his love for Candlemass in this one. Anyways, That goes on and then it busts into a hyper speed onslaught of that same intro riff. After that it gets crunchy and slow with tremendously fast double bass under it. It's a really nice epic. Around 4:10 it slows down and sets a very dark egyptian mood. Then into a brutal egyptian war march theme and after that....the solo. Dallas went all out on this one and it shows. The solo is great. This song is great filled with all sorts of cool riffs. The middle has a nice clean part and it rips back into the brutallity later on. Really nice. Coming in at 11:43. Epic? Yea, I thought so.
"Churning The Maelstrom" This one is super fast. Tony Laureano has now placed himself in the top death metal drumming elite. Super fast drumming. He gets bomb blasts here at 261 bpm. The riffs in this song are also very great. The riff in 1:15 is super technical and the blasts are out of this world. Great track.
The next track "I Whisper in the ear of the Dead" is also good. Very fast double bass and cool silent interludes as verses. Good song structure. Nice
The beginning of "Wind of Horus" is one of the coolest sounding riffs I have ever heard. All the riffs in this song are good and Tony Laureano's use of "Catch blastbeats" are very neat. You will notice them in the verses. This song is just flying.
And the 4 track concept. "In Their Darkened Shrines"
"Hall of Saurian Entombment" is a good track on this album. It's something new and it sets a good atmosphere of egypt. Not metal, but still good. More harmonic minor. Boy do they love that scale. It's a good song to let you calm down before you get the boot to the chin again.
The next track "Invocation to Seditious Heresy" is amazingly fast. Tony Laureano does a drum roll around 40 seconds into this song that has got to be the fastest thing upstairs on drums I've ever heard. I feel sorry for his toms. They sure do get their asses destroyed. Nice fast riffs and brutal drumming. Entertaining.
"Destruction of the Temple of the Enemies of Ra" comes in after this. One of my favorite songs on this album. Low guitars and superfast drums. The riffs in this song are picked amazingly fast. Karl Sanders can pick 16th notes at 256 bpm and I believe it.
The last track "Ruins" is a fine way to end the album. The guitar melodies are really nice and it's a good slow epic.
Niles choice of song arrangments are amazing and technical. They are one of the fastest and are definitly the heaviest band out there right now. Tony has filled in for the Berzerkers drummer which is an outstanding achievment. These are top of the line metal musicians and this album shows. The fastest pure death metal band out there. Buy this album. It is amazing.
I picked up this album very shortly after it was first released, gave it a listen or two, was thoroughly underwhelmed, and consigned it to its place on the CD rack.
Since then, two years have passed, during which I’ve listened to this thing barely, if at all…
But recently I’ve pulled it out and given it a couple of listens. At the very least, it seems much better than I remember, but I’ve gone back and forth on my general opinion of this band a couple of times over the years. I can’t help but be a little wary of a band that so blatantly relies on an angle – I believe there’s a lot more to musical creativity than using “unique” lyrical concepts and atypical instruments. On the other hand, I’ve always thought that Nile were at least solid, musically, although there are plenty of people that would love to debate me on that I’m sure… a lot of folks hear nothing more than a wall of grinding noise when they put one of this band’s albums on, virtually indistinguishable from any other modern death metal band save for the odd digressions into some explicitly Egyptian-sounding passages. Most of those folks make up the band’s most strident detractors, naturally, but I have a feeling that at least a couple of them are among the band’s biggest supporters, hilariously enough. You see, there’s this story about an Emperor with no clothes…
But as I said above, Nile do have some clothes after all – a decent set of threads, in fact, if nothing to put the rest of the death metal genre to shame. Cutting through all the hype, those disjointed, quasi-melodic tremolo riffs on the first album were fairly unique, and though I don’t think that drawing inspiration from ancient Egypt adds up to much of an earth-shattering musical development in the broader perspective, some credit is due to the band for breaking from the pack and attempting to generate some atmosphere. Hey, at least there aren’t any pictures of carved-up naked chicks on their album covers.
Adopting such an unusual identity and binding themselves to it so thoroughly has gotten the band where they are, but it’s also caused them to paint themselves into a bit of a corner. Whether they like it or not the band is pretty much stuck throwing Middle Eastern scales and chanting into all of their songs forever, or until they decide to change their name.
Bearing that in mind, it’s not surprising to me that this is the most blatantly “Egyptian” Nile album yet – where it used to be a more subtle flavor in the brutal guitar work it’s now thick, pervasive, and extremely literal, with soundtrack-like keyboards (or things that sound like keyboards, whatever) having a greater priority than before.
When I bought this album, the little cardboard advertisement stuck on the top of the CD case (if you’ve bought from Relapse you may know what I’m talking about) boasted that this album was the “perfect mix of new and old metal”, or somesuch thing, which is something I took as a warning sign. Basically, what it means is that the band’s backed away from the structurally complex heresy of Amongst the Catacombs and settled down with more straightforward, obvious, traditional riffing – a lot of it is rather doomy and melodic, in fact. I noticed that immediately the first time I heard the album and dismissed it as mutiny straightaway, but in fairness it’s really not all bad after all… it is a great deal more “accessible” and consequently less ambitious, but I do rather appreciate its directness.
I also like the new drummer, as the drumming on the older Nile albums never really sat right with me… or with a lot of other people, I gather. Drumming in death metal – in this style of death metal in particular – serves a very different purpose than it usually does in a rock or heavy metal band, where the idea is generally to use the bass or snare drum to point out when you’re supposed to be tapping your foot; instead, it’s sort of an ambient backdrop to the action, delivering the proper speed rush and providing texture without getting in the way. That said, the drumming on Nile’s first two efforts tended to cut against the grain a little more than I’d care for, merrily plowing through riffs without doing much to complement the rest of the music. Things go a little different on Shrines… still no shortage of blastbeats, naturally, but there’s a lot more breathing room and dynamics and the drumming tends to work with the guitars instead of pushing against them – plus they’re not recorded twice as loud as everything else, which was a problem on Black Seeds.
Honestly, I think a lot of people who don’t generally care for this band might enjoy Shrines a bit if they checked their preconceptions at the door and forgot about all the hysteria and fanaticism surrounding the band in the semi-mainstream. It’s not totally different from their older music, but the subtle changes might be enough to make a difference. Or they might not, of course.
For my own part, I’ve enjoyed giving it a few more spins, but still, I can’t say I have any great love for the process of streamlining the bands seems to be undergoing, and the band’s most significant days are probably behind them. The gimmick is wearing a tad thin, after all.
Everything that makes this album what it is, is great. Drumming, guitars, vocals, screams and growls, keyboard, lyrics. They are the done to perfection on this album. The range on In Their Darkened Shrines is equally amazing, from brutal death metal, to technical death metal, to songs with apocalyptica keyboards. It offers so much in the death metal genre that this must be owned.
I think obviously what stands out the most on In Their Darkened Shrines is the incredable drumming. Its insanly fast, complex, and the main draw of all the songs. Its not often that a band's drumming makes as much as an apperance as the guitars or the vocals. Here the drumming totaly blows the vocals away, and is much more interesting that the guitars. The drums are so fast and complex they draw most of your attention to them. They change so much, its not just a repeated beat, every 5 seconds its something new, just as fast and just as heavy, they are relentless(aside from the keyboard parts). They are simliar to Absu's Tara album or Death's Human and Induvigual Thought Pattern Album. If you love drums this album is for you.
The guitars are also done very well on this album, they range from brutal riffs, to very technical riffs. They complex, fast, and heavy. They can be both brutal and technical with intricate riffs and guitar work. The solo's are just amazing. The guitars also work very well the keyboards, at times working with them to make the keyboards heavier and darker. The keyboards aren't those power metal keyboards that suck, but usually simulate a deep horn with a choppy sound. To make the songs seem powerful or apocalyptic.
To top off all the songs the vocals are deep and brutal. Many screams and growls and some great lyrics. Its great how 3 of the band members all sing, it makes the vocal work much more powerfull. The lyrics are just great if your into history or Egyptian mythology, they are very intelligent lyrics.
This is the death metal album with the best drumming I have seen. The band is origonal with their lyrics and sound, they use this origonality to make one good album here. Its lasting appeal is great. There is nothing I don't enjoy about it. From the fast drumming to the keyboards and lyrics, its a great death metal album. It starts out fast and brutal and ends strong.
Needless to say, Nile are amongst the legends of Death Metal today. After only a couple of demos and two full-lengths, namely the brilliant “Black Seeds of Vengeance” Nile have released yet another epic – “In Their Darkened Shrines”. Nile cunningly and with great intuition have penned a glorious saga that should be noted and attained by all Underground scene followers.“In Their Darkened Shrines” is composed of 12 songs and delivers an hour of complete fucking perfection in Death Metal. Yes Nile have most definitely achieved a unique sound that no other band can match and this is what makes them worth listening to. Yet again, like their very first demos, “In Their Darkened Shrines” is a sinister blend of brutal death metal and ancient Egyptian musical compositions. Nile, with great outstanding ability, have fused their compositions with Ancient Egyptian texts and create such a ominous effect that will keep you on edge at all times.
The album starts with the fast-paced all-way brutal death metal track “The Blessed Dead”. Don’t get me wrong by all-brutal! Karl Sanders and Dallas Toller-Wade still fill in those mystical, melodious and complex solos and fast-riffs! The next three songs “Execration Text”, “Sarcophagus and “Kheftiu Asar Butchiu” have pretty much the same to offer – typical Nile! Then we get to the fifth track – the near 12 minute magnum opus “Unas Slayer of the Gods” which is possibly my favourite track on the whole album. This starts with a soft acoustic interlude – obviously with a middle-eastern tang to it. Than the song just blasts and rolls with sheer pace, brutality and perfection – filled with orchestrated choir voices and instrumentation. The last four tracks are actually all related. They are the “chapters” making up the one epic “In Their Darkened Shrines” All of them are brilliantly constructed starting with the sinister “I. Hall of Saurian Entombment” which is an instrumental…well more of an Egyptian war march tune that seems to appear on many of the Nile albums. Its these types of songs as well, were the genius of Karl Sanders and company also strikes out. The songs that follow are also simply kick-ass such as “III. Destruction of the Temple of the Enemies of Ra”. I also really enjoy listening to the “soft” side of Nile in this album – by this I mean the melodic pieces at the end of “II. Invocation to Seditious Heresy” and the all slow paced finale track “IV. Ruins”. Yeah it shouldn’t be just Death Metal and that’s it. Nile broaden horizons and delve into many forms – that’s what makes them great!
Now I definitely have to comment on the lyrics as the brilliant music is only a part of Nile. First off I have to add that the inlay booklet has 14 facades (7 facades on each side) filled with writing. On one side you can find the lyrics which are obviously highly influenced by ancient Egyptian history – That’s Karl Sanders for you! All music and lyrics are composed by front-man Karl Sanders a few being written (music) by Toller-Wade too. Sanders has high influences it seems from what I’ve read from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Litany of Re, Am Dwat – obviously the darkest aspects of Egyptian History and also Egyptian Mythology which seemed to have been previously penned down by myth writer H.P. Lovercraft. In fact “In Their Darkened Shrines” itself was inspired by this guy. But apart from composing the great lyrics Nile also gives a description of each son on the other side of the inlay. Something which is rarely done with Death Metal albums. What else can I say? Absolutely nothing – yeah I’ve said what I had to say and if I missed out on something important… well fuck it. Just buy the bloody album and see for yourself. This has to get a well deserved, pharaonic
Nile's lastest offering is a brutal one. If anyone thought that since Nile has been getting very popular lately it might be going to their heads, they were wrong. From the first track the album is barrage of pure blistering death metal, with a couple of slow atmospheric songs thrown in the mix. The first track The Blessed Dead is brutal as hell, nonstop agression mixed with some crunching riffs. Next follows Execration text which is classic Nile, blistering fast blast beats and a skull crushing groove. Then we get to Sarcophogus which is a slow one, but that doesn't mean it sucks. It has a really creepy atmoshpere to it and turned out to be a great song. Kheftiu Asar Butchiu gest right back into things with a super fast tempo to it, and is easliy one of the best songs on the album. Then comes the masterpeice of the album Unas Slayer of the Gods. This epic is one of Nile's best songs they have written to date. The intro is influenced by Candlemass and its really creepy, then quickly into a ferocious death metal attack, then into some slow crunching parts. They really experiment with the Eqyptian music in the middle of the song, which sounds really cool. Then the solo which is my favorite of the album. Then back to the intro riff with some chanting about Unas. Then back to the crunching riffs. This is a great song and it is already a classic. Churning the Maelstrom is the fastest song on the album so you can imagine what that sounds like. I whisper in the ear of the dead slows it down again with some cool riffs and eery sounds. Wind of Horus starts out slow and then gets back into it heavy and fast! Then comes In their Darkened Shrines, A four part songs which starts off with Hall of Saurian Entombment which is a lot of eqyptian drums and horns, some really good stuff, then into blistering fast death metal with Invocation To Seditious Heresy and Destruction Of The Temple Of The Enemies Of Ra, and ending with a slow atmospheric song Ruins. But I do have a bit of a problem with this album. It sounds like its overproduced a bit, and it just doesn't sound as raw as Nile's other work. But that doesn't take away too much from the brutal attack that In the Darkened Shrines really is.