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Now its not uncommon for someone to listen to some death metal release for the first time and feel floored by its power and brutality, in many ways that is the point of modern death metal, but a release that can floor you again and again without fail. A release that sounds just as awesome on the 100th listen as it did on the first, that is a special record and one to be treasured.
Ithyphallic happens to be one of these releases. Everything here just blends well and the band create an album that brings vivid images of ancient desert warfare, epic clashes between the gods and mummy like monstrosities unleashing themselves upon the world. The key to this being the short instrumental passages and tracks found throughout. These bits use a lot of native Egyptian and middle eastern instruments to great effect creating sections that are both beautiful and eery.
Then of course the majority of the album is quite different. The rest of the album is made up of meaty fast paced guitar riffs, slower devastating doom riffs and quick intricate solo work. The drums provide a relentless barrage of blast beats and double pedal work. Even the bass player while not completely audible adds a deep punishing low end to the music. The ending product is heavy, brutal and punishing but also technical and sophisticated.
Vocally one finds a back and forth of deep grunting and death metal growls. The highlight of the vocals though, and what let's them really stand out is certain parts where the vocals keep a harsh edge on them but are far closer to clean melodic singing and give the album an unusually high degree of catchiness, with areas that a listener could sing along to should they so choose.
As a final word, if one wishes to make this badass album seem even more awesome then crank it out on surround sound while you play the remastered edition for Serious Sam TFE. It actually fits in pretty smoothly.
In retrospect, it pisses me off a bit that the first new album this band came out with after I got into them happened to be the first one where they started running out of steam a bit. Despite the bizarre title and admittedly shit cover art, I was highly anticipating Ithyphallic at the time and when I did get my copy I was promptly floored. At this point I was at the height of my infatuation with Nile, and it seemed like they had just dropped a completely awesome new release. It was impossibly heavy and the musicianship was up to their usual stratospheric standard. I enjoyed it highly for a solid year or so.
Given time, cracks began to appear in my view of the record. It felt somewhat like an "AOTW Part 2". This wasn't necessarily a bad thing, though. No band out there is obliged to reinvent themselves and be COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!!! with every new album. It was cool to see them stick to roughly the same style as their last album and expand upon it in certain ways...and they do expand. There isn't really a "Sebek" or "Black Seeds" on this album, and there isn't really an "Unas" or a "Dream of Ur" either, but the first song is suitably "epic" (read: drags a little bit) and does make a solid impression when it gets going, especially with that crushing mid-paced groove around the halfway point. The title track is also quite impressive and features some nice snaking leads. "Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve Its Possessor Against Attacks from He Who Is in the Water" (try saying that with your mouth full) gets by on its absurd title alone, it tries to be the next "Execration Text" but isn't quite as good. "Eat of the Dead" consists mostly of unsettling slow to mid-paced riffing and is effectively doomy. Still, its no "Sarcophagus", is it?
Now for something that I do really like about this album. The addition of the eleven string fretless guitar, complete with a stupid-beyond-belief spear tip headstock (look it up), adds new tonal possibilities to the Nile sound and allows for some convincingly "Egyptian" sounding guitar leads that wail through certain songs, like an electrified version of a traditional fretless Arabic string instrument. They're given a special highlight at the end of the album and it does sound incredible. As someone who plays fretless bass, and who has attempted to play a fretless guitar before (with limited success I might add), I'm aware that its a very ambitious instrument, with a brilliantly expressive sound and they should be commended for using it so effectively here. The Karl Sanders solo album-eqsue "ambient" interludes are still there too, and they're still good. They should be integrated more, though, as opposed to being separate tracks.
Speaking of Karl Sanders...what happened? This is the beginning of basically Dallas doing all the vocals. He's good, but don't try and pretend that Nile wasn't defined by the fact that in any given song there were two, sometimes three discrete vocal parts going on which made for a really unique sound. Sadly, that feature is distinctly lacking here. Dallas is by no means a bad vocalist, but he dominates this album a bit too much and his hyper-speed delivery of some of the lyrics is a bit distracting. There just aren't enough of Karl's amazing, subterranean, "dust clogged mummy rising from the tomb" sounding growls. The touring bassist of the time, Chris Lollis, allegedly does some vocals, but I can't recall where exactly.
As for the production...well. I dunno. To be honest, it sounds a little rushed. The guitar tone is superb, though not quite as crushing as before. Bass is, as usual for Nile, practically non existent in the mix and largely unnecessary anyway, seeing as they tune to A and the guitars are practically occupying bass frequencies in a tuning like that. They didn't have a separate bass player for this album, notably, so they did it themselves. The drum sound I'm not sure about. It does highlight how good Kollias is but damn, that's one of the most hyper-clicky kick drums I've ever heard. The snare sound is great, though. Everything is triggered halfway into next year, as you might expect, but there's not much else you can do when you want music of this nature to be clear and discernible production wise. It doesn't quite hold up to AOTW's crushing and warm, yet immaculately clear sound, and it isn't really atmospheric enough to capture the "raging sandstorm of riffs" aesthetic that the older albums did so effectively. Frankly it comes across as a little sterile.
I'll be honest, these guys were one of my favourite bands ever at one point and I still have a soft spot for them...but after this album I began to lose interest somehow. I saw them live on this tour, and they killed it, but I really stopped following them after this and what I've heard (admittedly, not a huge deal) of the following two albums wasn't really enough to convince me that I'd make a mistake. Ithyphallic is not a terrible album. Its not even a bad one. In fact, its pretty good overall and excellent in a few choice places. However, in my mind it marks the cut-off point between "awesome" and "meh" in Nile's discography.
Technicality has always been one of Nile's trademark aspects. With searing guitar shredding and machine gun blastbeats, they are truly one of death metal's most formidable bands. Annihilation of the Wicked showed that they had mastered their craft, and so when I heard that another album was due to be excavated I was brimming with both excitement and wonder. If Annihilation of the Wicked was THAT heavy, then imagine what Ithyphallic will be like. Brutal, technical, flawlessly produced? Maybe to some extent but otherwise, sadly, not really. While it has some moments of excellence it ultimately fails to achieve its goal: to impress.
I will firstly say that this album is definitely as technical as past releases, if not more so. The opener, 'What Can Be Safely Written', starts off with a huge egyptian themed wall of sound, which is pretty awesome. In fact it is possibly the only excerpt on the album that has a true feel of ancient Egypt. However once the guitars kick in the riffs are pretty cool but the production is disappointing. Over the course of the record listeners are bombarded with tinny guitars and drums that sound much, much weaker than on past releases. This is mainly due to the fact that the snare drum almost has a 'ticking' effect to it, and sounds more like someone hitting a saucepan than an actual snare.
While the production is pretty underwhelming the actual musicianship is still pretty impressive, although in parts it is too over the top. Even though this is Nile we are talking about, their lust for technicality is actually the downfall of many of the songs here. 'Laying The Fire Upon Apep' and 'Papyrus' are typically complex but lack any real backbone or melody. The fact that the whole album is mainly lead guitars takes the 'OOMPH' out of it, and also the catchiness. 'Eat of the Dead' drags along at a frustrating pace, and one cannot help but feel that Karl and the gang were more focused on showing off the limits of their skills, rather than creating strong, sturdy riffs and beats like in past releases. While the guitar work is impressive at times it just seems hollow and without balls. The vocals are as solid as always, but due to below-average production they sound muffled and distant.
Although the aforementioned 'ticking snare' effect can get irritating after a while, the actual drumming here is as magnificent as one would expect. There is a lot of double bass, even more so than usual and with quality production values it would be a force to be reckoned with. The only negative point about George Kollias is that he seems too intent on keeping the same lightning fast pace. Some slower paced beats here and there would have given the songs the crushing brutality that Nile are famous for. As mentioned before this album sounds like it has severed any link between death metal and egyptian culture. Aside from a mediocre instrumental track it is mostly just guitar solo after guitar solo, which is a shame because Nile are known for their potent mixtures of brutality and atmosphere. The highlight of the album is 'The Essential Salts'. Wow! What a song it is with an opening riff that could challenge just about any other death metal tune out there. It is catchy, brutal and melodic enough that people may be able to forget about the murky production for just a moment to take it in. An almost redeeming quality.
While this is not a necessarily a bad album, I will say that it is far below anything Nile have ever done. I wondered at first if maybe, had the production been better, I could come to love it. However, production aside, Nile seem to have lost their capability for forging songs with a perfect balance of heavy and technical. There is still some magnificence to be found on Ithyphallic but it only shows briefly, and overall it is buried in muddy production, needlessly long and directionless guitar antics and a generally meandering and shapeless atmosphere. I hope that next time Nile will redeem themselves.
My faith is still there.
Ironically, Nile's album all about dicks doesn't suck nearly as many as a couple of their other works. It still sucks more than their crowning achievements, 'Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka' and 'Annihilation Of The Wicked', and it does indicate that the band is unfortunately backsliding to their spectacularly gay mid-era material, but 'Ithyphallic' is a decent enough album in its own right that's worth a look from tech death fans. It's certainly a much lesser work to the previous full-length, but it's not a total loss.
I'm beginning to think that Nile actually has no fucking clue about how to make a good album; they just kind of stumble into it sometimes. That's the only reason I can imagine that the band decided to make 'Annihilation Of The Wicked', which received an almost insane amount of fellatio from the entire metal scene including those who generally hated the band, and then backslide into a pseudo-'Black Seeds Of Vengeance' sound. Maybe Sanders felt guilty that he wasn't stroking himself hard enough with his riffs, or that the production was too clear and audible, but this is most certainly a significant step back from the previous album. I'd say this is essentially a half and half combination of 'Black Seeds Of Vengeance' and 'Annihilation Of The Wicked', and while fortunately the elements of the latter often manage to overpower the former, the very presence of anything from the band's mid-era makes my balls ache.
The riffs here aren't nearly as good as those on the previous album, at least for the most part. Sanders is in love with the murky, convoluted tremolo riffs of albums like 'Black Seeds Of Vengeance' which just sound like processions of random low notes, and that trend is kept up on this release. The intensely melodic feel of 'Annihilation Of The Wicked' is only occasionally present now, and overall the songs feel much less dynamic and varied than they did previously. On top of this, the overly fill-laden drumming is back; it was present to some degree on the last full-length, but it's back to the excessive and irritating levels of 'In Their Darkened Shrines', albeit with better production. I'd actually like to take a moment to talk about the solos alone: they're unbelievably fucking awful, especially the shrieking, neverending monstrosity on 'Language Of The Shadows'. What the fuck is that supposed to be!?
On the other hand, much of the songwriting is intact, and 'Ithyphallic' does boast several very memorable tracks. 'What Can Be Safely Written' is the first Nile epic since the 'Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka' era which can be considered a success (which is of course diminished by the laborious and boring 'Even The Gods Must Die'), and shorter tracks such as 'As He Creates So He Destroys' and 'The Essential Salts' really do showcase Nile at their best; when they're simply concentrating on making fast, technical, and most importantly, memorable songs, they're a pretty good band.
But despite the successes on this album, I'm still pissed that the band feels the need to go into masturbatory technicality and bland ambiance again. Instead of expanding upon 'Annihilation Of The Wicked''s ability to craft epic tracks within reasonable time frames, the band is falling back on the old fast and technical/slow and epic false dichotomy that's plagued them ever since the band began. This album certainly has its moments, but I think that with more reasonable songwriting standards, it could have been much better or even a rival to the previous album; it's a shame that the band can't just realize what they're good at and stick with it. It's a reasonably good album, and probably the band's third best, but it could have been so much more.
After about five months of living with Nile’s newest release, ‘Ithyphallic’ and listening to it twenty to thirty times, I have gone from disappointment towards one of my favorite technical death metal bands to amazement toward the eclectic talents of the band members. As always, a death metal release must be fast, be demonstrative of a band’s technical prowess, and above all be brutal, but upon the first few listens to Nile’s Ithyphallic, the latter two may be missing to the ears many listeners.
The opening track, ‘What Can Be Safely Written’ begins with the always-epic classical Egyptian concerto coupled with the ever-brutal double bass kicking of George Kollias to open the album and go into their always brutal depiction of Ancient Egypt.
Unlike most of Nile’s works, Dallas Wayde uses clean vocals rather than guttural technique and Karl Sanders, who usually does close to half of the vocalization, is barely present in this release. It seems to some extent that Nile has become lax in the making of their music as even the lyrics sheet doesn’t have the explanations that are normally present to enlighten the listener toward Egyptian belief and custom.
Though the band may seem lax in the vocal and production department, the music is still top notch as always though a little more mainstream sounding than what can be called normal Nile. Songs like ‘As he Creates So he Destroys’, ‘Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve It’s Possessor Against Attacks from He Who is in the Water’ and ‘Ithyphallic’ are much catchier than most of Nile’s offerings and the chant of ‘Anoint my phallus with the blood of the fallen’ in ‘Ithyphallic’ would get any crowd going. Breakdowns are also utilized much more often than normal making it seem as though Nile is attempting to capitalize on the overused breakdowns that deathcore has made mediocre. The title track and ‘As he Creates So he Destroys’ both feature breakdowns and ‘Eat of the Dead’ is a song based around a breakdown. Some bands find heaviness in their music by slowing the tempo down like Type O Negative, but with Nile technicality is key and though the breakdowns may be heavy, they are not reminiscent of the true ability of Nile. Maybe the band was looking for some anthems to play at concerts, but this isn’t exactly the technical death metal that Nile is known for. As a death metal album, ‘Ithyphallic’ is a truly amazing release, but as a Nile album, it is a disappointing listen for the first few songs because though each stands out and is great, it does not sound like Nile.
The music is also at a noticeably slower clip than normal as more fifth notes are used on the guitars and bass though Kollias still sets the pace for how each song would normally go with his very prominent drumming that pummels through every whine of the guitars. The instruments played are also much more diverse as classical instruments are employed and some music from Karl Sanders’ solo career is used to create a very Egyptian atmosphere. ‘The Essential Salts’ features a very Egyptian-sounding solo near its end beginning the end of the death metal in this album for the most part in preference to an atmospheric death metal sound. The music is very eclectic throughout, but as straight balls-to-the-wall death metal Nile seems to have become a little more lax.
In summation, if you are looking to get some aggression out, listen to the first half of Nile’s ‘Ithyphallic’; if you are looking to hear some eclectic and cultured death metal, listen to all of Nile’s ‘Ithyphallic’ but if you are looking to take out a lot of aggression over a long period of time, listen to some Suffocation, Decapitated, or Nile’s ‘Annihilation of the Wicked’, because by the end of ‘Ithyphallic’ you will feel accomplished, but at the same time calmed by the slow, quiet conclusion to this release. As stated above, this is a great death metal release, but as for a Nile release, it is not as good as ‘Annihilation of the Wicked’ or ‘In Their Darkened Shrines’.
Suggested Tracks: ‘Ithyphallic’, ‘Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve its Possessor Against Attacks from He Who is in the Water, The Essential Salts’, ‘The Infinity of Stone’
Alright, just as with pretty much every other Nile fan out there, I was about ready to cream my pants when I found out their new album was released. Then I got it, and I loved it, but it never sat right with me. After further listens and reading other critiques of the album, I think I finally understand why.
First of all, when people say that this sounds like Annihilation of the Wicked B-Sides, they're not kidding. Now, this isn't totally bad. I mean, Annihilation of the Wicked was a good fucking album and Shadows Fall actually DID use old B-Sides and unreleased material to put out Fallout from the War which was, in my opinion, a solid album. But Nile fails. There are definitely quite a few good tracks on this album, as with every other Nile album. Unfortunately, the epic tracks on this album ("What May Be Safely Written"; "Even The Gods Must Die") can't quite compare with "Unas" or "Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten" and the other hard-hitters seem to lack some of the finess of previous albums. The rest of the songs are just filler. I mean, on their last album (and just about every one before it), if a song was on there, it was guaranteed to be badass, even if it wasn't an epic or being made into a music video. This album, however, comes off as just having a lot of filler. It's all great, but it just doesn't stand out like it should which leaves the album a bit bland.
See, if the album was just that, I think it'd be alright. Sure, it sounds pretty reminiscant of Annihlation of the Wicked, but it's still fairly solid, even if it's not groundbreaking. But wait...there's more. As a reviewer previous to me mentioned, the vocals sound weak. I never noticed it until I switched over from In Their Darkened Shrines to this. "What the fuck?" is the first thing that came into my mind. They sound somewhat hollow and lack the real gutteral juiciness that they once had.
Now, this album isn't all bad. There are some completely amazing songs on here. "What Can Be Safely Written", "As He Creates, So He Destroys", "Papyrus Containing the Spell [...]", and "Even the Gods Must Die" are very standout tracks. Whether because of their completely furious and complex guitar work or the sheer epicness of them that Nile seems to have mastered, they remain some of my favorites. Everything else you'd expect from Nile is here. Amazingly ferocious drumming, aggressive guitars, and even an acoustic interlude. The problem is that it's not just what you'd expect, but it's EXACTLY what you'd expect. Again, this wouldn't be SO bad if the album had something else going for it, but for coming off as more of a sequel to Annihilation than anything else, it just doesn't stack up against their other work.
For Nile fans, you don't need to think twice. Buy/download/trade for this album. It's worth having if you're a fan. For newcomers or skeptics, move along to something better (ie: In Their Darkened Shrines or Annihilation of the Wicked). This album just doesn't feature Nile as it should.
With Nile’s fifth studio release the band has, on one hand, moved forward, refining their sound, and on the other, remained very much the same. Fans and critics alike would certainly be cognisant of both, the Nile staple attributes, and, the improvements and/or changes apparent. Given the purpose of this review, I will go into as much detail of the musical content as my limited and fairly recent appreciation of the genre allows.
The first thing that struck me in a general sense about the album was a palpable increase in melody throughout the listening experience. Melody may or may not be the correct term so I will expand: in past releases Nile have often hit on a riff or passage that has been pleasing to my ears only to disappoint by never revisiting the theme again. This much has changed with most riffs being repeated for at least the standard four bars. Traditional choruses are now much more evident and obviously the repetition of the accompanying music makes for a much more structured listening experience.
Adding to the heightened sense of melody I believe, is a new approach to the vocals. For the first time on a Nile release I wasn’t squinting at the liner notes in an attempt to decipher what was being gurgled. So as not to startle the fans of brutal death metal bands and Nile in particular, the vocals are still very much in the death metal vein but are somehow more intelligible. For those who enjoy the particularly low ‘cryptified’ vocals of either Dallas or Karl (I’ve read various sources that state that both members are the exponents of these vocals and so am personally unsure as to who it is), they are still apparent, but used more sparingly and, as a result, with more effect ie. the conclusion of Eat of the Dead.
The combination of these two new angles to Ithyphallic make it a much more listenable experience, particularly for someone like myself who has a primarily thrash background. The chorus of ‘Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve Its Possessor Against Attacks From He Who Is in the Water’ is reminiscent of Ride the Lightning or Master of Puppets era Metallica with its layered vocal and epic, distant sound while the repeated motif of Eat of the Dead is a new direction for Nile and could easily have been a closer to a South of Heaven or Seasons In the Abyss song: think maybe Dead Skin Mask.
As far as the sound of the music, it has improved significantly since Annihilation of the Wicked. The thin, ‘clicky’ sound has gone and, sorry to use another Metallica analogy, but the progression in overall ‘production’ is akin to the difference between ‘Justice’ and ‘The Black Album’. The kick drums are triggered but have appropriate levels of bass that was severely lacking in AotW. The guitars are down tuned to I believe A, and sound significantly brutal, particularly in the breakdowns. Solos are less prevalent than in previous releases and seem to my fifteen hack guitar playing years to be more structured and less ‘sweeping everything fret board antics’, albeit with middle eastern influences.
The structure of the songs is, at times, particularly technical, and at others seems to lose emphasis. A perfect example of this is the opening track, ‘What Can Be Safely Written’. After well in excess of fifty spins of this album, I am still unable to recall all the sections of this song and nor can I recall actually listening intently to the full eight minutes and fifteen seconds of this behemoth. Recently I found myself thinking that its fine for a song to meander if you’re Agalloch and the song is In The Shadow Of Our Pale Companion with its pagan/nature/wandering theme, but not if you’re a brutal death metal act in the Nile vein. Disappointingly, Unas Slayer of the Gods, this ain’t.
As a previous reviewer has mentioned; George Kollias has hit his straps on this album. Not only has he incorporated some jazz influenced off-time signatures, his fills have improved significantly and the use of his kicks during these times generally leaves me dumbstruck. Not being a drummer, I find the kick drums to be ridiculously fast. I have read the term ‘retread’ and, having no idea what this meant, checked out some videos of this bloke at the kit to verify any mechanical advantages that may explain his super fast feet. From what I can fathom there are none and the man should be credited with one of the best drumming performances of the year.
For those critics of the band or for fans now bored with recipe, there are still the same elements present that are well known and documented Nile ingredients; an epic, overly dramatic, middle eastern sounding introduction opens the album and of course there is the obligatory acoustic/ambient piece in the middle – although this time around there is only one. Bass is traditionally again a low end guitar and follows along and the actual six strings, when not chugging out brutal breakdowns, race along in an almost unintelligible sprint with the drums. Lyrical content is no change and to my thoughts (and ears this time) sound a little simple at times, to the point of being slightly embarrassing in their structure ie ‘…this white powder contains the essential salts….’ While maybe not completely explanatory in written form, on listening, lines like this come over as awkward and second rate. Perhaps this is a contributing factor to the lyric explanations not being included in the liner notes this time around.
Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention the album closer, ‘Even the Gods Must Die’, another innovation in the otherwise fairly predictable Nile staple. The song begins with another bombastic symphonic introduction very similar to the opening track before moving into a mid tempo doom laden riff that sets up this epic track in more than just a ‘what a cool riff’ fashion. Throughout the song, this motif is hinted at, built on and referred to in a fashion reminiscent of a heavy King Crimson release before finally exploding in its original form with the song title ominously repeated by a chorus of brutal voices. It is then, at the conclusion of the album, that the unexpected happens: the guitar and drums cut out, an acoustic passage is developed and a Karl Sanders Middle Eastern post rock expression session begins. This conclusion lasts some three minutes and, while a great album closer and an innovation for Nile, it doesn’t quite do enough. The intent of this final bit of music is, I perceive, not to show off the nimbleness of Karl’s fingers, but to complete the Middle Eastern mood established and prevalent throughout the album. In this it succeeds but, unfortunately continues for at least a minute longer than it should without exploring new themes. A bit of a disappointment for me personally, but still the best album closer in the Nile catalogue.
The latest Nile offering is a step forward for the band in that new aspects of the music have been developed, but the progression is a relatively small one. Fans will surely revel in this latest offering while critics will retain the same deprecating ammunition thanks to what still remains to be, a particularly Ithyphallic release.
After several months of listening then putting the album away for objectivity's sake, I con conclude that while this is not NIle at their best, it still is one hell of a death metal assault. And they are still on top of their game musically if nothing else. The clear as a bell production quality doesn't hurt, either; you can actually hear George Kollias' frenzied drum performance much better this time around. But there is an indefinable something lacking in the songs this time, a certain element of freshness missing for want of a better way to put it.
Don't get me wrong, this is far, far from sucking. Listening to the instrumental versions of "As He Creates, So He Destroys" and "Papyrus Containing...(etc)" at the end of the album demonstrates the structure of these songs very nicely and proves that Nile still has it in the writing realm. As opposed to most bands out there who are tech for tech's sake, Nile write actual songs. Very complicated songs, but songs nonetheless. You can actually follow them, something I can't say for the likes of Cryptopsy or Beneath The Massacre, for example. Yet still it feels as though Nile are pushing a little too hard this time, there is a lack of organic flow, for want of a better description. The music doesn't seem very relaxed in places, relaxed in that they seem to be agonizing over every little detail instead of letting some things just happen. And this makes the music harder to listen to and appreciate than I'd like. In fact, this is in some ways NIle's most obtuse and difficult album to get into yet.
And Karl does get in something really unique on this album, the whining, groaning sounds of a custom made 11-string fretless guitar that adds a lot of mystique, mojo, and atmosphere to "Eat of the Dead" and the title track. Leave it to Karl to find something fresh to add sonically, and I really like the mood this insturment helps contribute to the music.
On the production side of things, I really don't care for the drum sound, with the hollow snare drum tone and clicking triggered kick drums, for one thing. It really detracts from the enjoyment of the music for me despite George's undeniably godly abilities. And while the low end is crushing, the bass as usual is not as defined in the mix as I'd like. SOP, though, this is, so no worries there.
They are also focusing more on the Lovecraftian Cthulhu Mythos from a lyrical standpoint, a nice change for my taste. While Dallas takes the reins for much of the lyrical content on this album as well as much of the vocals--I didn't hear enough of Karl's agonized ultra-deep groans for my taste--he is not quite as good a writer as Karl is in that realm. GIve him time to develop, the potential is there nonetheless. His word choices do often capture the vibe of those classic writings really well, though, and I will cut him slack for that as well, speaking as a writer as well as an aficionado of the Cthulhu Mythos.
In short, while this is not Nile at their best, songs like "As He Creates, So He Destroys", "Papyrus Containing..." (no way am I typing that whole title out), "Eat of the Dead" and "Ithyphallic" make the case that NIle still have some creative juices left to flow. I just worry that they will sink into self-parody if they don't watch out. I do hear some elements of that creeping in and I hope they can sense it and bat it back before it's too late. Still a worthy purchase in the long run, though, this album is.
Nile has always been a legend in my eyes. Each new album they mold from their musical talent is the perfect mix of brutal, heavy, and interesting. With a newfound emphasis on Egyptian mythology and instrumentation, Ithyphallic exceeds many former albums.
The album starts off slow, with a musical intro, but cascades into the signature blasts beats and fast riffing that has always been key to Nile’s sound. The first track is somewhat long for an opener, but no complaints here. I believe that the length of a song holds no importance, as long as the quality of the content is bearable for the duration of time.
The next few tracks are very fast paced, some with catchy choruses and blisteringly fast double-bass shredding. The lyrical content is extraordinary, and represents the heavy interest in all things Egyptian that has been Nile’s original concept since day one. One thing that I truly enjoyed about this album is the fact that there is less gore and violence in the lyrical themes than ever before. This leaves more room to educate the listener on the abstract themes that lie therein.
As the album continues, the usual death metal ailment of repetitive content is cured by the usage of strange instruments, Egyptian guitar harmonies, and the fundamentally flawless recording quality of this album. All instruments can be heard very well and each adds their own distinct part to the overall effect of the album. This is one of many reasons why I am in love with Ithyphallic.
One complaint that I have, which is shared by many who have heard this album, is that the music very closely resembles previous albums, such as Annihilation of the Wicked, or In Their Darkened Shrines. This is why I am not willing to give this album 100% percent. The progression of the album is similar to these older albums as well. The only truly noticeable change is the recording quality, which, in Ithyphallic, is the best of any Nile album so far. Although the similarity to previous albums was a disappointment to me, I believe that this album would be amazing if it were to stand alone, not shadowed by Nile’s former work.
"“Ithyphallic” had to be one of the most anticipated albums of 2007 after the extreme success of Nile's last album “Annihilation Of The Wicked” in 2005 and due to Dallas Toler-Wade's (ex-Lecherous Nocturne), Karl Sanders's (ex-Morriah) and George Kollias's (ex-Sickening Horror, ex-Nightfall, The Circle Of Zaphyan) stellar musical abilities and interesting compositions, Nile has been making gigantic waves as of late and people should've noticed even sooner than this. Their legacy is one that will be remembered forever in the eyes of death metal and metalheads all across the world. Their mixture of Egyptian culture, folklore and history and insane death metal is what really brought Nile away from the pack of endless dregs who sound alike, creating their own wolfpack and devouring the other circles of inferior animals. Does “Ithyphallic” have a leg to stand on next to its ancestors?
The only correct answer is “yes”. What we have here are 10 tracks of blisteringly heavy Egyptian death metal with the usual mixture of guitar wankery, guttural growls and speedy blastbeats that would make bullet trains jealous. I've also noticed that a lot of these songs are very similar to those on “Annihilation Of The Wicked”, especially when comparing “As He Creates, So He Destroys” to “Cast Down The Heretic”, not to say that's really a bad thing, because “Cast Down The Heretic” was one of my favorite songs off of “Annihilation Of The Wicked”. There's still a lot of Egyptian sound-effects and drums to be heard on this album, but after so many albums of this it starts to wear you down, but that's actually very rare. Musically, it's a whirlwind of technical abilities with earthquaking drums provided by good ol' George.
The only problem with this album is that after listening to Nile for some many years, you really start to get a feel for their formula, thus making this album incredibly predictable. It's really a shame when that happens because when you first listen to an album that you've been anticipating for two years you want something new to come at you, but as I said before, every now and then the usual formula sort of wears you down.
If it weren't for the extreme predictability of this album, it would deserve a well deserved 90, but with Nile starting to run out of ideas I'm getting a little tired of the usual song by them. I'm not saying this album isn't incredibly enjoyable, it is, but I was just hoping for something just “slightly” new and fresh. Oh well, I hope that Nile can fix this little but crippling mistake. Can't win 'em all I guess."
Originally written for Metal Stomp.
Certainly one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2007, at least amongst the death metal crowd, NILE's Ithyphallic probably manages the tricky task of not disappointing the band's long time fans. And what it surely does is to add new people to that already impressive fan base.
The record kicks off in a quite bombastic way (no surprise here) and barely manages to avoid being cheesy. After the minute-or-so-long intro, the actual song - What May Be Safely Written - starts. Again, no surprise, Aggressive, yet sometimes intricate riffs over Kolias' technical and brutal drumming. But somehow, this time it seems better than before, at least for somebody who doesn't listen to NILE regularly. The song does slow down, as expected, but remains very heavy indeed. After a more straight-forward second song, the brilliant title track kicks in. Though not the fastest, nor the most brutal on this record, Ithyphallic stands out mainly because of intelligent songwriting and well chosen riffs. The next prominent track is Eat of the Dead - slow and doomy, yet still a crushing, forceful song. The latter half of the album is mainly an all-out assault, technical and brutal. The exceptions are The Infinity of Stone, an acoustic interlude, of course in a Middle-eastern style, and the epic Even the Gods Must Die. It's a 10-minute-long, very complex song that features slow, crunchy parts, faster and more technical riffs, along with more atmospheric passages. A very good way to end an album.
Taken as a whole, Ithyphallic is balanced and well structured. In most cases, just before a song gets monotonous, it changes from an aggressive affair to a doomy, heavy part or the other way around. There are also some melodic bits and pieces scattered throughout. The drumming is very solid, fast but not just focused on blast beats and kick drums - there are some very complex drum fills. I've already mentioned the guitars several times, and the bass is nothing special, but that's not a real problem here.
Now for the downside. Despite the almost perfect songwriting and the very well-developed technical skills of the band, it is still a very formulaic record. As I've already mentioned, there are no real surprises. It's everything a NILE record is expected to be, just, as I see it, done better than before. In fact, if you especially like Annihilation of the Wicked, there is a chance you will dismiss Ithyphallic as just a more polished version of that record. However, for most NILE fans and not only, this album should prove to be one of the top albums this year.
Moving past the considerably goddamned awesome cover art (as well as the unspeakably homoerotic album title), let's analyze Nile's newest full-length, and their first on Nuclear Blast Records. If I can say anything about Ithyphallic, it's that it is most certainly a Nile album. The songs are about either Egypt or Lovecraft; some are slow and heavy, some are fast and blastbeat-laden. They aren't changing up their formula, but they also don't really need to. What they've done is tightened the screws and flawlessly executed something that only they can do.
Part of Nile's brilliance is the fact that mainman Karl Sanders doesn't just infuse his adopted homeland of Egypt into his lyrics, but into the modes and scales he chooses to write the guitar parts for the songs in. There are some inhuman runs on this album that you would never expect to be played by three long-haired dudes from South Carolina. On this album in particular, these African melodies can be found most prominently in "As He Creates So He Destroys" and the lightning-quick necksnapper "Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve Its Possessor Against Attacks From He Who Is in the Water", but damn near every song has some of that Egyptian influence.
This album does a great job of taking the two Nile styles: slow, marauding death metal and breakneck thrash death, and combining them effortlessly, often within the same song. For example, the brilliant title track, while consistently brutal, is at times among the fastest moments on the album, and at others downright doomy. Despite the song being titled for a word meaning "displaying an erect penis in a work of art", it is probably the album's highlight, including a necrophilia-promoting singalong in its outro: "Anoint my phallus with the blood of the fallen."
It also must be mentioned that Karl's solos are among metal's best when it comes to reflecting a song's mood. His solo to "Papyrus" sounds frantic, as though he is escaping the crocodiles that his lyrical creation is escaping, whereas, in stark contrast, the bend-obsessed, Gilmour-esque outro solo to epic album closer "Even the Gods Must Die" reflects the melancholy nature of that song. Karl Sanders is honest-to-God the most creatively vital guitarist in death metal today.
If you're looking for Nile to do something unexpected, Ithyphallic ain't your album. If you're looking for incredibly technical death metal that never descends into jazz or self-indulgence, stop by your local record store immediately.
I have to say I was waiting anxiously for Nile's debut effort for Nuclear Blast, even more so because the last album was downright excellent, though not as devastating & amazing as In Their Darkened Shrines. Upon listening, I wasn't enthralled & was pleasantly disappointed. What i heard was something that sounded like something off of Annihilation of the Wicked: The Worst Of. It didn't pack the punch older Nile did & here is why.
Nearly every song follows the same pattern minus a few. The 'epic' tracks tend to get overly boring too in the middle and drag for no real reason whatsoever. Where tracks like To Dream Of Ur & Unas Slayer of the Gods kept you hooked throughout their 10 minute plus length, but over here, the opener, even though beginning excellent, with the double bass complementing the epic horns and such, starts dragging BADLY after the 4th minute and feels very rushed. Slow, boring, unsinpired riffs make their way into the mix of many tracks, notably Eat of the Dead & make you want to just turn out. Songs like Sarcophagus cemented Nile in the Death/Doom space, but such songs here, are just peeling that hard cement off
The second thing I find redundant here are the vocals. Gone are the days of 3-vocal onslaught, which defined Nile. Karl hardly growls anymore, and it's all Dallas 95 % of the time. I have to say I'm not such a big fan of his delivery. He worked well in the previous records because the other 2 were there to exchange vocal lines & keep it fresh, but over here, it's just him pretty much reading as fast as possible the lyrics. At times, he gave me a headache.
That's not to say the album's a complete disappointment. George's sick drumwork is probabl the only notable thing here. The sound isn't massive by any means thanks to a very mediocre production job by Neil Kernon, but the drums stand out a bit, though the blastbeats could've been louder & more prominent. Kollias still shows why he's one of the best death metal drummers after invading all these hassles.
The guitarwork is allright at best. They've done better in the past. Again, way too many doomy draggy riffs that are way too similar for their own good. The production strips them of their intensity during the faster, complex parts too. Too much of a clean thing can turn heavily redundant and that's what happened here.
Though, some songs have some excellent parts, such as the twin harmonies of The Essential Salts & the middle of Ithyphallic. As far as solos go, there aren't too many & none which are memorable either, save for the final epic track Even the Gods Must Die, which is a shame really as Karl & Dallas used to be or are excellent lead players. All they're doing here is playing as fast as possible and then, as slow as they can, without any egyptian interludes, which made Shrines so powerful and different.
All in all, a 55 is very generous & only because it's Nile, a band i worshipped. They really need to redefine their sound for the next release as Ithyphallic sounds like Annihilation of the Wicked gone bad. They also need to get a new producer as Neil's not making things any easier. Sure, many fans digged this, but i'm not one of those crowds by a stretch. A very mediocre release by a great & talented band.
For 2007 many metal bands have come bearing gifts; whether they be relatively new, pumping out another offering or giving promises of this being their 'come-back' album. For everyone's favourite 'Ithyphallic death metal' band, they come bearing another album... although I say this in a very loose sense since this album differs only in name. I wasn't expecting anything earth-shattering, bands this deep into their style of metal are very unlikely to redesign themselves at the drop of a hat unless you're Sigh, whom we now expect to change every album. However I do not think it is selfish or unfair to at least expect something decent and interesting, it's not as if they lack the talent nor do they lack the songwriting capabilities as their past releases have shown. Unfortunately it seems that Sanders and Co. completely forgot they already released ‘Annihilation of the Wicked’ when they wrote their new album, luckily their fan base salivates at the thought of any release by the trio since they’re so ‘talented and technical’.
I can't help but feel a twang of guilt as I type this review, they are beyond talented musicians and we all know this, I saw them live and I can say they were great. Nile aren't my favourite band but when they get their shit together and write good riffs with worthwhile 'Egyptian' influences they did a great job. Unfortunately with 'Ithyphallic' we see Nile falling back on their previous album 'Annihilation of the Wicked' and doing very little to change or at least be creative with the style set forth. They carbon copy it onto another album and then flip through an Egyptian dictionary and pick a word that makes them think of cocks. The unfortunate and obvious trait this album exhibits is a shift towards a more 'br00tal' feel and sound to their songs, reflecting the sea of mediocrity that is the american death metal scene. This regression to a sound that arose in pioneers, Morbid Angel and then furthered processed and manufactured by Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation is really fucking disappointing. Its proof that the US death metal scene couldn't release an album to save their inbred hillbilly lives, not to say the european scene is any better but I digress.
The drumming is of course balls to the wall double bass kicks with lots of 'ohmygod he's hitting everything all at once or something like that it's so fast I can't tell maaaaaaaaan' etc. etc. It's impressive just nothing we haven't heard before really, at least they sit comfortably in the mix and don't overwhelm everything. Vocally they've become a lot more coherent and on occasion I could actually understand, even appreciate whatever fantastical wank story about ancient Egypt they were on about. The soloing isn't nearly as prevalent as it should be with more preference placed in the occasional leads where he noodles on his guitar for a couple of seconds and then returns to bash chords, Nocturnus you aren't. The riffing and songs in general seem to fall into either; "zomg fast, but no wait you heard this on AotW" and "lulz we're BR00t4L", with the former being the much preferred since on rare occasions I can tell the difference between this album and its predecessor. Well that's rather unfair, unlike most br00tal bands they have epic-length tracks because you know... they're technical and that means playing for eternity! Despite being nothing more than recycled and redundant riffs…
The opening track "What May Safely Be Written" has an ambient/non-metal opening with that whole "I’m in Egypt haggling with cheap, dirty hookers" feeling for about a minute, and then we go straight into blasting with heavy and mostly decent riffing which becomes utter shit because they slow it down and bash chords for awhile. The solo is stock-standard Nile sweep picking. The second half of the song is slow and boring with two more sweep pick solos, as an opener this song works poorly especially compared to "Cast down the Heretic". "As He Creates, So He Destroys" starts off really well with some fast and interesting riffing, the second half ruins the entire thing by being insipid and shit. The title song starts off in a very generic brutal death fashion, even when the speed picks up the riffing is uninspired and yet again the second half manages to make this song even worse. Two songs without solos? What a bunch of softcocks. The ‘song with a long title I could give two tugs of a dead dog's dick about’ (IRONY!) is at least fast, the riff is generic but there is a nice little lead section between the first and second riff. The song slows down for about 40 seconds accentuating the vocals before speeding up again luckily. "Eat of the Dead" is stereotypical 'br00tal' death metal, the sound of my friend having to vomit every 10 minutes the other morning was more interesting. "Laying Fire upon Apep" is probably the best song on the entire album with lots of riffing that is talented; a bit of chord bashing, tremolo sections and technical flair. "The Essential Salts" is a monster of a song, again with some great riffing that is almost death/thrash reminiscent at times but again the second half fucks up with some overlong Egyptian themed lead section keeping up appearances. "The Infinity of Stones" is filler, yet again Nile making sure we know they enjoy having a really good toss over Egyptian music/mythology in their spare time. "The Language of the Shadows" has yet another really overlong tosspot lead section right in the middle that makes the song unbearably boring; yes we know you like the whole Egyptian sound, now try and work it into a decent song. "Even the Gods Must Die" is boring, so utterly boring I starting reading comics and suddenly found myself listening to Destroyer 666 only 10 minutes later. Basically they try to remake "User-Maat-Re" which was already a pretty ambitious song but it still managed to be interesting, this song is just bleh. It's 10 minutes of chord bashing, vibrato and bends trying to sound progressive or deep but also staying brutal, making for one epically long and boring mess.
This album would be more than half decent if they didn't manage to basically fuck up half of every song with shitty filler-esque material to keep up the whole Egyptian theme, sounding less like AotW would have also helped. Look if you like stereotypical, uninspired brutal death metal in the vein of Suffocation then you're sure to find a treasure-trove of tracks to wank yourself raw to on this release. Otherwise go listen to Dismember, they may not be technical but they know how to play Heavy Fucking Metal and that's what it's all about really.
Score: 59% ~ it’s a bearable album and again, they are very talented but it's just so boring and teeming with filler songs and sections with a distinct lack of ball shredding solos. Stick with "Annihilation of the Wicked" and “In Their Darkened Shrines”.
Note: This review was also posted on my last.fm account.
Nile are one of those bands that you can never just get enough of. Though their last album, “Annihilation of the Wicked” was released only back in 2005, it seems like ages. Easily one of the most original and talented bands in Metal today, Nile step up to the plate yet again, and like always, they don’t fuck around. At all.
The boys from South Carolina return with their 5th studio album, “Ithyphallic”, and one great piece of news right off the bat is that this is the first Nile album ever to feature the same drummer two times in a row, and considering that the drummer is George Kollias, that is a very, very good thing.
One of the first things that caught my attention about this album is that the general production and sound mix is much better than it was on “Annihilation..” The guitars still sound amazing, the drums can be heard loudly and clearly, and the general tone of the album is pretty old-school and raw, though it manages still to sound thick without the mud. Everything sounds crystal clear and it gives has a nice “oomph!” to it.
The songwriting itself is still classic Nile in all of their Death Metal glory, with quite a few new twists and turns thrown in for good measure. A lot of people complained that “Annihilation..” didn’t have enough of the old Egyptian sounding passages in it, so when the albums first track, “What May Be Safely Written” kicks in, a knowing smile should grace the face of just about any Nile fan out there. Boasting an intro so flawless and so brutal, you feel like you’re marching to an epic battle. And in a way, you are – because at 1:08 into the song all hell breaks loose and you’re trapped in a frenzy of guitar riffs twisting and turning like electric eels, and blast-beats played with such silly precision that it’s setting pretty ridiculous standards. Clocking in at 8:15, it’s easily one of Nile’s most epic songs written to date. Karl finishes the song off with a pretty outstanding guitar solo.
That’s right. Death Metal’s most lethal band is back to show everyone else what’s up. And what better way to do it than “As He Creates, So He Destroys”? Easily one of my favorite songs from the album, the riffage in this one is simply incredible. Riff after riff, it’s just relentless. It takes you by the neck and slams your face into the pavement. The vocals are spectacular and sound clean and well defined, and just listening to George perform his wizardry is enough to please any drum fanatic. The first lead kicks in at 1:41 (played by Dallas) and though it’s short, the bends and the feeling of it all adds a lot of character to the song. The riff at 2:17 is also notable to mention as it slays, and the passages at 2:29 and 2:36 as priceless and planned out extremely well, and executed even better. The chant at 3:19 makes this song sure to be a live favorite, and riff underneath the chants are heavy enough to rattle the very calcium from your teeth.
The title track kicks in next, accompanied by a very tasteful guitar riff. The song is one of the slower cuts from the album, which mostly grooves instead of blasts. The riff at 1:05 is creepy as fuck and it probably one of the best riffs on the entire album. Karl and Dallas have perfected both of their playing and songwriting styles, with very delicate nuances of sound laid deep in the guitar riffs and harmonies. The impressive thing about this song in particular is how well the riffs just seem to flow into each other. Despite being quite complex in nature, none of it sounds forced and it just flows out of your speakers like a stream of water.
Next up is the first single from the album, and also the first track presented as a preview to the fans. “ Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve It’s Possessor Against Attacks From He Who is in the Water” kicks in with it’s ingenious harmony line, then launched into full blown Death Metal orgasm as George totally annihilates the damn place with the sheer speed, ferocity and tightness of his single-footed blasts. It’s just amazing to listen to, and the riffs on top of it all chop and slice away with little to zero mercy, shredding the very skin off of your bones. Dallas’ vocals are just as impressive as ever, and he paves the way through most of the song.
Now, believe it or not, this is where the album gets really, really interesting. “Eat of the Dead” slowly slides and slithers out of your speakers. What you’re hearing is an 11 string fretless electric guitar, in the hands of its master and creator. Melodies of sickness are belched forth from this beast that just makes you feel uncomfortable. Though the song picks up the pace a little after the intro, it slows down yet again for some of the most memorable bits on the entire album. The section at 2:19 totally caught me off guard and launched into a speedy section right out of the blue, only to slow down again after a short while, only to slow down even further at 2:48. In all fairness and honest, this song boasts one of the best and most original sections Nile has ever come up with. The part I’m talking about starts at 4:33 and continues until the end of the song. The guitar lines here are slow and haunting, and crafted with brilliance. George contributes with some tribal sounding drums, and Karl delivers a fucking frightening vocal passage between the chants. The whole thing is very well structured and like I said, one of the most precious moments on the album.
With “Eat of the Dead” leaving you in a state of horror and emptiness, “Laying Fire Upon Apep” will quickly cleanse you of those feelings. Another incredible intro with some spectacular jazzy drum fills by George, then the band launches once again into a riff that could have only been crafted by Nile. The riff at 0:48 is also has a very militaristic feel to it, and the general feeling is of power and dominance, which is exactly what this song does. Another impressive solo from Karl, then another spectacular riff right after. In fact, I have no idea how they did that sound at exactly 2:27. It sounds like the riff is being played while raising the tone a few pitches with the Floyd, or maybe it’s even Karl bending the strings down hard on his scalloped frets. Whatever it is, it sounds fucking awesome. Speaking of Karl, he adds yet another spectacular vocal performance near the end of the song, and if there is one thing I can never get enough of, it’s Karl’s vocals.
“The Essential Salts” simply blasts it’s way out of your speakers and launches into yet another riff which will cause your jaw to drop to the floor by it’s sheer ferocity. It really does feel like you’re being hacked to pieces under the hot, burning sun. Nile is all about the brutality and atmosphere, and they capture both of these elements on tape exceptionally well. One of my favorite moments here starts at 1:26 with a flawless transition of riffs, and continues to 1:36, exactly 10 seconds, until George sets the whole thing off again which literally sounds like drum explosion in your face. Speaking of George, the double blast beat he does at 1:55 is pretty damn impressive. Karl’s lead kicks in at 2:26, and all I can say is that it sounds very relaxed, like his hands have really loosened up; no strain can be heard, and the whole thing just sounds pretty damn effortless.
“The Infinity of Stone” is a short and extremely well performed acoustic instrumental piece. Accompanied by tribal drums and various other sounds, it’s a great atmosphere piece which creates a nice introduction to the ridiculous carnage which is only known as “The Language of the Shadows”.. my favorite track on the album. The intro is one of the best, if not the best, intros Nile has ever written. The song then flows into the verse, and the thing to note here is actually not the melody on top of the riff, but the riff itself in the background – it sounds fucking evil. It sounds like it was recorded in the very depths of hell, and it chops, hacks and slices mercilessly with it’s “wall of sound” guitar approach. Incredible, but the song is far from over. The section at 1:10 kicks the song into another gear entirely, and blasts and grinds it’s way through your skull. Now, the first guitar solo which kicks in completely rapes, and I thought it was played by Karl, which when in fact it’s Dallas. I have no words to describe this one; it’s just pure, raw emotion delivered and presented in such a honest and barbaric way that I can do nothing but shake my head in awe at the thing. It’s priceless, timeless. Anything else and the song would just not be the same. The way the last notes of the lead sustain across the next verse.. it’s just so goddamn perfect. Nile are at the top of their game, and they deserve every bit of credit and praise thrown at them.
The final track on the album, “Even the Gods Must Die” really is something else. A full blown, epic intro sets the tone for another grinding piece of Death Metal. All of the riffs here work together very nicely and effortlessly, and is a nice build up to the chant at 5:34. However, the highlight of this song for me is definitely the outro, and you know something special is coming up when everyone else backs off and Karl Sanders steps up to the plate. The tribal drumming and acoustic guitar is introduced first, then Karl starts wailing away with all he’s got – and that’s quite a lot. Just listen to the solo, carefully, and you’ll quickly realize just how damn special it is. From the slow, slithering Eastern melodies, to the high pitched squeals, everything sounds perfect, and his guitar tone is aggressive yet elegant. All of this last for nearly 3 minutes; just Karl and his own ancient civilization.. which sounds like it’s just been fucking totaled and left to rot under the hot, relentless sun.
Whether you believe that having a band concept is cheesy or clever, there are some bands that can pull it off flawlessly. I think it takes quite a bit of talent to release multiple albums on a concept and still write enjoyable Metal. NILE does just that. Release after release, they pound their listeners to ashes with their brand of technical and very brutal music.
If you think this album is going to be any different than their previous releases then you will be sorely disappointed. NILE offer up another solid dose of their practically trademarked sound without ever missing a beat. “Ithyphallic” gives listeners another taste of Egyptian themed Death Metal. Although definitely solid and very good, “Ithyphallic” doesn’t quite match up with the sheer brilliance of their last two albums.
It’s almost shocking that music so downright brutal and abrasive could be so technical and pleasant at the same time. The guitar work is jaw dropping at times, with some awesome chaotic moments intermixed with monstrous riffs all approached at the speed of sound yet surprisingly clean sounding. Throw in some bass work that not only matches the intensity of the guitars but surpasses them at moments. That is a mixture for some epic Death Metal. Not to mention the drumming (although at times a little linear as compared to previous albums) that is both technical and fast without losing momentum that really keeps the album moving at breakneck speeds. Not that all the music is played at blast beat pacing cause there are some very cool Doom Metal inspired moments like the ending to the title track, “Ithyphallic”.
It helps that NILE distinguishes themselves from the field by adding in little unique moments. Adding in gongs and Egyptian music to interludes and at various sections of the album gives the album some well needed change of pace. These little sections are a nice little signature of the band that does distinguish their music from a field of Metal that can be easily lumped together.
Vocally, Sanders is actually more understandable then he has ever been on “Ithyphallic”. His guttural roars may not be the most unique but his energy can even be felt through the recording which helps the band a lot. It would be nice to hear a little more than just his normal vocal style at times, but that really isn’t a complaint about the album. Just curiosity.
“Ithyphallic” might seem a little ridiculous to those outside of the Death Metal world. Songs with titles like “Papyrus Containing the Spell To Preserve Its Possessor Against Attacks From He Who Is In the Water”, may seem a little over the top even for a concept band but once you hear the well written music…all that doubt is beaten out of your system.
Songs to check out: “So He Creates, So He Destorys”, “Ithyphallic”, Eat Of The Dead”.
So, what's there to say about this new Nile album? To sum it up in one word is an unachievable task, or a terribly hard one. The reason it is so hard to sum up in one word is because just one word wouldn't have enough definition to cover the album. You could use awesome, but that's a bit vague. You could use brutal, but then you're leaving out the technicality of the instruments. Intelligent could be used, but then it feels like you're ignoring the sheer power and heaviness of the album. Even if you want to write a negative review, it's still hard to sum this album up in just one word. So, instead of using one vague and boring word, I'll sum this album up in a few paragraphs.
The album as a whole is great. Technical guitar work, fast drums, and intense vocals. Nile again impresses me with their speed and precision. George Kollias does a great job, adding precise and aggressive beats into the songs. He takes the album to a whole other level. Dallas and Karl create mesmerizing riffs. Yes, they are fast and technical, but they are also well composed, and have an epic feel to them. The one downside to the instruments is that I feel like they're revisiting Annihilation of the Wicked. It's got a similar feel to it, and that Egyptian sounding acoustic piece is something that comes into play, yet again.
Compared to other Nile albums, I'd have to say that this is their second best effort. In their Darkened Shrines being their best. Though they do sort of continue in the same vein as Annihilation, they surpass it. Kollias seems to be more comfortable with the guys and has unleashed his full potential. Also, some of the riffing on this album blows away many songs on Annihilation. Though, there are no songs on this album that are made up of 100% amazing riffs unlike Sacrifice Unto Sebek, which in my opinion has amazing riff after amazing riff. This album also has a very epic feel to it like In their Darkened Shrines, which, obviously, is a plus.
Overall, it really is a great album. It's jacked up with brutal, yet intelligent songs. It's perfect for any Nile fan. It's got that Egyptian sound that we love, the familiar growls from Dallas and Karl. Kollias's skilled drumming. Technical guitar work. And slow, ethical passages. I give it a 90 only because they went in ythe same vein as Annihilation. It really is a piece of art. Go get it!
Wow Nile, it only took you 14 years.
When I first heard Nile about half a decade ago, I thought it was absurd that they got the praise they did. Ultra muddy guitar tones swimming aimlessly along with blastastic drumming and airy vocals. I thought each album got a little better than it's predecessor, but nothing earned them the accolades they got.
Obviously, the band has attracted attention being on a major record label, and having the "Ithaphallic" element, being the only band I know of to adhere to a Egyptian/Middle Eastern theme for their entire career. Indubitably, the distribution and novelty were enough to lure all the casual fans, or would-be fans into new realms, and would dub the band the world's greatest, and set up alters for worship. Silly.
Okay, so, suffice to say, I've always thought they've been pretty damn overrated. The vocals especially. I'm aware that they were trying to emmulate the voice of the ancients, the enraged tongue of the arcane gods spewing their dictum upon the fearful world. It didn't work.
The vocals came out sounding more like a wheezing bear. Just so empty and thin. Hide that within a murky wall of indecipherable of notes and non-stop drum patterns, and you have something I absolutely cannot understand anyone really enjoying.
But, anyone who had the same problems with past Nile releases can rejoice.
Here, on Ithaphallic, we have clearer production values, more pronounced, stronger vocals, and some of the best song writing Nile has yet achieved. There is a touch of technicality, the drums are a tad less relentless, and the attack of Ithaphallic rage comes through with sharper production. Who knows, maybe all their albums would have been good if not for horrendous production and lazy vocal performances.
Surely, there is more to thank than the production for such a great step forward. It's like they took a step back and really took a second look at their song writing. There are a number of riffs that actually are quite catchy, rather than being a scambled sequence of notes. Drummer George Kollias lays down the law with intensely fast drumming that is much more tasteful than the never-ending assult of previous releases, with interesting takes on the blast beat, and a few variations on the old drumming. He still uses the same snare-tom-snare-tom fill to death. Listen to the last album and you'll know what I'm talking about, because it's the fill you hear in every song. Somethings never change I suppose. Regardless, this drummer is so damn fast and tight, I do occasionally find myself just listening to the drums.
There is actually not so many traditional, authentic "what's that instrument" parts on this album. I like that the songs (with the exception of the opening and closing tracks) are generally pretty short. It puts focus on the songs, and it works better for the blast of intensity.
It is somewhat more of the same, and there are moments that are going to remind you of the older material. The drums are still overproduced, but it's better than before. And obviously no one in this band can actually play a guitar skillfully, because the guitar solos are devoid of direction, and marginally daft - though luckily still somehow work in the end.
Overall, I think this is far and away Nile's best work. I am quite impressed. It's what they should have been doing all along. If you're a fan of the band, absolutely get it, and if you're like me and never thought this band was worth much, still give it a try, because they've ascended the proverbial pyramid.
Of course, this album starts off with an Egyptian sounding intro, which I completely expected, and then kicks in to the brutality and intensity that is Nile. I will admit that upon my first listen to this album I wasn’t that impressed, but I thought I should give it a couple more listens before I wrote this review, and boy was I right.
This is a continuation of the last 4 albums, and bares many similarities with Annihilation of the Wicked. However there are some differences, which are almost unnoticeable while first listening to the album. The vocals sound different, but in a good way. I don’t know if it is just me, but they sound almost more brutal, if that is even possible. The lyrics, once again, are very well written, I just really love the Egyptian themed lyrics, they are so interesting. And on this album it seems like they are better than ever.
The riffs are, as usual, fast and heavy as fuck! But also differ a bit from earlier releases. It seems like there are some more slow paced parts. Now don’t get me wrong, Ithyphallic has its fair share of fast riffs. I have to give credit to Karl and Dallas, there are some amazingly played solos, one of the best being halfway through The Language of the Shadows, which is really melodic, but in a good way. It seems like they’ve really combined melody with brutality on this album, and done a great job of it.
The drumming is the same as always. I really love the drumming, but it just lacks variation. Yeah, sure it’s really fast, but that’s not what it’s all about, to me. It has a lot of double bass, which I'm sure a lot of you will love.
This is really a great and I really recommend to any fans of Nile, and fans of death metal at all, for that matter. As I said before, I really wasn’t that into it when I first heard it, but just give it a couple more spins, and I know you’ll enjoy.
Stand-out tracks: Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve Its Possessor against Attacks from He Who is in the Water, The Essential Salts, and Ithyphallic