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To this date, Nile has puked seven full-lengths of their own brand of Egypt themed, cryptic yet epic death metal, and throughout their career they have garnered more and more publicity and why the hell not – even I really like the band, and it is actually one of the only popular death metal bands that I follow. Worship the Animal takes us back to the band's first steps even before the major debut Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka, and shows how different but still same the band sounded almost twenty years ago.
Starting with ”La Chant du Cygre”, things seem really different compared to the Nile of today. There's more thrash metal in the riffs as well as vocals, and the vaguely uncommon time signatures (a joke if you compare to the complexities of nowadays) actually remind me of Meshuggah's early steps in the first half of the 90s. On the follow-up ”Worship the Animal” the band shifts into more familiar Nile sound with an eerie synth choir. However, it's the third track ”Nepenthe” that takes the spot of providing most Nile esque material with its meandering riffs and rhythms, a definite highlight of the compilation EP along with the title track. ”Surrounded by Fright” and ”Mecca” are a tad less impressive lengthy pieces but nonetheless enjoyable documents capturing the evolution of the band.
Considering that this is an old, before unreleased bunch of demo level songs, it comes as a surprise how good the audio sounds, and it's actually a lot more punchy, spacey and detailed than the debut album. The actual compositions might not be essential, but a diehard fan of the group should most certainly invest into Worship the Animal, and not only to complete his/her Nile collection, but also because the content is a lot better than one could have expected from such a rudimentary recording.
3 / 5
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Nile, over the past 18 years of their career, has firmly established themselves as one of the most influential and known bands in the technical/brutal death metal genre, with their fusion of Egyptian-inspired melodies that can be found on their music and sheer technicality and brutality making them stand out and stand apart from the many bands that have come before and after them. This year sees Goomba Music releasing Nile's Worship the Animal EP, containing 5 previously unreleased tracks from a 1994 recording of the band.
One should not expect the style that Nile currently performs in on their later albums on Worship the Animal, as what is presented here marks the very beginning of their musical genre. The first thing that one notices, apart from the raw production job is the vocal style of Karl Sanders. Unlike the current deep growls that he now heavily utilises, on Worship the Animal, the vocal style leans more towards those of death metal pioneers such as Chuck Schuldiner's, only in a deeper vocal range. There are also moments where he almost breaks into a singing style, something that is now not present on any newer Nile tracks. Growls can also be heard on the album, though these moments are few, such as on the title track Worship the Animal. On songs like Surrounded by Fright, his strained clean vocals even have a somewhat thrash metal feel to it despite the doom speed that the band is going at.
However, fans of later Nile need not worry as the technicality and brutality in the execution of the music are still present, with the odd time signatures on tracks such as Le Chant du Cygre and the brilliant executions on the individual instruments. The guitar riffs and guitar solos are often complex and technical, and even the bass is given much personal time and space on the album. The usage of a single guitar can also be easily heard on some sections on the album as well, for example, on the guitar solo of Le Chant du Cygre where the only rhythmic instrument accompanying the lead guitar is the bass guitar, and this results in a somewhat empty effect in the music. There is a general marked absence of the Egyptian musical influences that is so prominent and a vital part of later Nile works, though lyrics on the songs do draw upon these influences and Mecca contains a solo that reeks of the influence that will become an essential element of Nile's music later. There are also moments on the album where the backup vocals are used, and while they attempt to provide a heavier atmosphere in the music, over time they tend to end up getting slightly annoying. On Nepenthe there is also an awkward moment where there is a short spoken segment, breaking the momentum that has been built up thus far on the track.
Worship the Animal displays Nile's songwriting abilities and musicianship at one of their earliest years, and may come across as slightly primitive to fans who are used to the polished recordings of their later works. However, this EP is a must-have for fans of the band who wish to track the band's progression from their early days to present.
This demo is quite different from the Nile we know today, but that does not make it any less amazing. The demo only has five songs, but it is in fact longer than Nile’s first actual CD. The songs are all lengthy, which gives the tracks an epic feel. Bassist/Vocalist Chief Spires sings in a clean vocal style for the most part, although he does lean to more death metal vocals in a few parts. Though clean vocals aren’t usually thought of in regards to Nile, I must say that Chief’s voice is quite good.
Lyrically, the album is not as Egyptian themed as later Nile releases, but they still speak of ancient times, mythology, battles, etc. The speech of the lyrics is more modern sounding than those of the current lyrics. Not as many ‘thou arts” or “thy(s)”, although there are a few.
The sound quality of the album is very bass driven. Some may not like this kind of quality, but I quite enjoy it. Chief Spires has a heavy, loud bass sound which gives the music more aggression. Karl’s guitar is also very crunchy and heavy sounding. His solos split through the bass end and really stand out. Even on this early demo you can hear what a great guitarist Karl is, and the licks have some of that old “Sanders” style that is so discernible in his playing nowadays. Also because of the lack of a second guitarist, the solo sections have a very cool bass/drum groove to them.
Pete Hammoura’s drumming is also great. He can play the thrash parts well, and has control over both his hands and feet. He is able to create some unique, interesting, and entertaining rhythms which weave around the complex riffings. Although the time signatures get pretty wild at points, it never gets confusing. There are some really fast drum fill parts and also some fast double bass parts. The drums have a really big sound which adds to the heaviness of the demo. There are also some tribal tom parts that heighten the epic feel of things.
All in all, this is an awesome first release, and the start of Nile’s transcending musical career.