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Ancient Egypt may seem to some like somewhat of an unconventional topic for a death metal band to focus on, given how so many of the genre's bands have spoken of nothing but gore and hating on religion since the genres inception. However, one of the genre's forerunners has made a living by doing nothing but speak of Ancient Egypt and the myths surrounding it. The band I refer to is of course none other than titans Nile, a band legendary within extreme metal circles. They have released many albums to date, usually of a high standard although their latest album was received less than favorably when stacked up against their past releases such as In Their Darkened Shrines. The band's style is a highly technical assault on the ears comprising of some insanely fast blast beats and frequent changes in tempo, including various chugging "breakdowns" mixed in perfectly among the flurries of tremolo picking and insane chord progressions. The technical prowess the band's guitarists have shown over the years is something to be reckoned with, but perhaps their most technical outing to date came on Those Whom The Gods Detest.
This was another album of high quality from Nile, containing ten songs with an average running time of around six and a half minutes per song with the longest two being over eight minutes and the shortest being a rather underwhelming two and a half minutes, although it is more an interlude than a proper song. Throughout the duration of this album one will experience a number of emotions and nothing but non-stop brutal death metal. The band really took things up a notch in the guitar department, with some crazily technical riffing found on here. Nearly every riff on this album relies on cramming as large a variety of notes as can be found into an incredible short space of time, leading to sounds such as the one achieved at one minute into Hittite Dung Incantation. Occasionally they will refrain from playing this crazy multitude of notes at such a speed and let a few chords ring out, either to give the guitarists fingers a rest or to signal a change in tempo-you can be the judge of which. The soloing is just as frantic, as the opening song Kafir evidences superbly. From three minutes thirty seconds the song shifts into a slower, chugging section that lasts over a minute before some Egyptian-sounding voices come in to build an atmosphere. Then, without any warning whatsoever, at five minutes into the song the guitars go mad again, with a lightning fast solo that is guaranteed to steamroll anything in their way.
The drumming is nothing short of phenomenal either, featuring some hyper fast blast beats akin to a slightly less varied Cryptopsy. The blasts on here are fairly monotonous but they carry the songs forward at a fantastic pace and create a marvelous foundation for the insanity that is the guitar work to build off. Anchoring down the rest of the song is the bass guitar, which is mixed exceedingly low on this release but is still there thudding away and is very fast and technical. When the rest of the band is playing at the speeds found on here, it is all the bassist can do to try and keep up, and he does so in fantastic form. The vocals are not the best in the genre but certainly create a nice voice for one to listen to. The vocals are primarily a string of snarls with gutturals occasionally used that sound more in line with traditional death metal vocals. Kem Khefa Kheshef gives a fair indication as to how the vocals on this release sound, with the rapid fire delivery of the lyrics and the signature style of vocals this band has found over the years. They are not fantastic but are a decent change from the bog standard death metal vocalists that focus on achieving as low a sound with their voice as possible.
The song craft is the meat of every album and on here it is of a fairly high standard. Whilst this can not quite square off with In Their Darkened Shrines, it is a more than competent collection of death metal songs. None of them on here are particularly bad, but none ever sound quite good enough to match up to some of the best compositions death metal has to offer. All of the members of the band slot their instruments together well to make a nice sound, topped off with a crisp production job. However, many of the songs sound far too long for what they are and often follow the same structure of using a few hyper fast, ultra technical riffs before leading into a slower section with dissonant chords that precedes a solo. The shorter songs are the better ones on the album, as Permitting The Noble To Descend To The Underworld shows off with its fast vocals and insane double bass drumming and varied riff set. The guitarists on this song sound as though they have overdosed on caffeine, playing so fast that the notes sound a blur but it is still an amazing song. The aforementioned Hittite Dung Incantation is another example of how much better the shorter songs work as opposed to, say, the eight and a half minute marathon 4th Arra Of Dagon, which spends too much time messing around with clean introductions and slightly more progressive structures to focus on providing ass-kicking death metal.
Those Whom The Gods Detest is another great, consistent installment in Nile's discography. The band are a titan of death metal that are absolutely relentless in their approach to creating some of the fastest, most technical work out there. They are a band that actually know how to structure their frenzy of guitar wankery, as opposed to bands such as Brain Drill who are all speed and no brains. No song on here is particularly bad, and therefore they are all recommended to those who enjoy extreme metal, and the shorter songs are really solid any a joy to behold. This is a fantastic release that is incredibly consistent and never lets up in its aggression from start to finish but has a few creases to iron out in that some of the songs are overly long, which has long been Nile's bane.
Originally written for SputnikMusic.com
Now seven albums into their career, Nile are a band that have revolutionised death metal. Their Egyptian themed technical brilliance has established them as one of the most impressive bands out there today. After the formidable 'Annihilation of the wicked' the legacy was set in stone, but after 2007's somewhat hollow album 'Ithyphallic' I had to wonder if Nile would descend into mediocrity like many later albums of death metal bands. This album however restored my faith in these gods of technicality and I will explain why 'Those Whom The Gods Detest' is one of their most blisteringly brutal releases.
'Kafir' could not have been a better intro. A tirade of impossibly fast blasts beats and scorching guitar riffs, it will without a doubt become a fan favourite, especially with the evil and perfectly recorded vocals. In fact the first three tracks on the album are unrelenting and show you no mercy as they batter you with ingenious technical mastery. Production-wise, this is probably (along with 'Annihilation of the Wicked') the heaviest album they have under their belt.
'Utterances of the Crawling Dead' hit me like a freight train, and shows how much of a machine George Kollias is behind the kit.
As expected there are some clean starts to some of the songs that soon explode, sending shrapnel into your face. The title track has an ominous introduction that looms over you before Karl and the gang continue their death metal assault. Nile are incredibly good at creating atmosphere in their albums, and they really show it here. The album's second track with its opening sound effects took me to another world.
The album's second half truly showcases their diversity, with a sinister instrumental section (as is tradition) and the head-crushing penultimate track 'The Eye of Ra'. Probably the strongest song on the album due to its sheer brutality. One thing I noticed on this record is that the actual melodies delve even deeper into the Egyptian sound. You can really tell the sheer amount of effort that Karl Sanders put in to make this album sound so unique, and also why he is such a legend on the axe - both brutally and technically.
Nile have created a monster of an album in a time where many death metal bands have passed the top of their game. An absolute essential for death metal fans, it is without a doubt the best release of the year. 'Those Whom the Gods detest' gets even better with every listen and will never cease to impress with its power.
In short, this album is Nile at their most earth-shatteringly intense. Prepare yourself.
Wow. I was first introduced to Nile when I listened to the track 'What can be Safely Written' off the album 'Ithyphallic', which in turn introduced me to this exciting, technical and brutal side of Heavy Metal. The thing that attracted me most about this band was the extremely heavy Egyptian influences which they combined with the music, and from that point on I just wanted to hear more and more.
'Those Whom the Gods Detest' is a fine example of how Technical Death Metal should be, rather than some fret board wankery spewed out from the likes of Brain Drill or the constant 'br00tal' breakdowns from bands such as Annotations Of An Autopsy (who drag the Deathcore genre through filth and shit, giving it a bad reputation). Nile are the masters of this genre and know exactly what's right for their music.
This album keeps you listening right off the bat with the song 'Kafir!' blaring in your ears, with a nice mixture of Technicality, Brutality and of course, Egyptian music. There's some form of an Arabic chant (I'm unsure at this time what it could be but it's along those lines) during the slam which catches you off guard and really shouldn't work, but strangely enough it does. Other songs such as 'Those Whom the Gods Detest', 'Utterances of the Crawling Dead', 'The Eye of Ra' and 'Iskander Dhul Kharnon' are some of the best pieces of Death Metal I have ever heard and cannot stop listening too.
Vocals are a mixture of two growls; one being more spoken word while the other being a lot more guttural. Sanders and Toler-Wade and pretty good at their vocals and I have no complains, however some of the lyrical arrangements in some of the tracks can sound out of place and alien to the onslaught of the instruments in the background, especially on the track 'Hittite Dung Incantation'. Don't get me wrong, it's a really good track but the vocals can sound strange.
Guitar work is fantastic on this album and I couldn't be happier with what they've done with it. Middle Eastern style chords, technical riffs and slams are very prominent on this album and they never fail to disappoint. Some of the solos are pretty good as well, especially on 'Kem Khefa Kheshef'. The solo on that sounds amazing. However, solo's aren't the best on this album, 'Kafir!' being the weakest in my opinion and sounding a bit crappy. Bass is just there really, due to the lack of a fourth member and anything that's bass related.
George Kollias is a brilliant drummer and this shows greatly on this album as a whole, with his ridiculous abilities behind the kit. There are a lot of drum fills on this album that sound great and the double bass is especially fast. The blasts are beautifully crafted and the drums as a whole are fantastic.
I still have Nile's previous releases to add to my ever-growing CD collection and I'm excited to what I will hear because 'Those Whom the Gods Detest' has fed my interest in Technical Death Metal again and I cannot enjoy this album enough. Those who seem to be giving it a backlash need to give it another listen and be a bit more open about what they hear, because they might be suprised.
Stand out Tracks:
+'Hittite Dung Incantation'
+'Utterances of the Crawling Dead '
+'Those Whom the Gods Detest'
+'Kem Khefa Kheshef'
+'The Eye of Ra'
+'Iskander Dhul Kharnon'
Where to start, where to start...I have no idea. I first bought Annihilation of the Wicked, desired more from this band, found this to be their newest CD, and bought it. Now it's hard to listen to AotW, thanks to this pile of festering wolf shit. This album is not an Egyptian-themed album, as Nile's 2005 work was. This is a parody album making fun of true Egyptian riffage. It is, as the review title suggests, your best bet if you're trying to discover the best way to destroy all respect and credibility your fans have so graciously given you over the years.
Let's start with Karl Sanders. Half the problem with this entire album is the fact that most of the vocals are not growls: they are chants or spoken word. It's not good spoken word, either: Karl is using what sounds like half-assed shouts as if he was thinking about what to order from McDonald's after the recording session was over. At other times, he makes the shouts too dramatic. No, Karl, this is not a rendition of Romeo and Juliet. This is a technical death metal album. The lyrics are about as crappily implemented as can be. Let me call your attention to the song "Hittite Dung Incantation". Although all the lyrics of this album are stupid, wannabe-brutal, or boring, this song's lyrics take the fucking cake for being composed of piles of "foul canine excrement". Yes, that's an actual lyric from the song. The choice of vocal style is pathetic, too; He shouts the lines "foul canine excrement", followed by guttural growling of "with barley flour". It would probably work if it was "Barley flour with foul canine excrement", but it doesn't matter. Here, Karl proves that he's just not poetic enough to create a song about smearing yourself with dog shit that isn't a laughingstock. For the rest of the songs, the overall presentation of the lyrics is just too straightfoward and boring. A lot of it looks complex, but a close look past the Egyptian words and titles will reveal lyrics written by a mentally retarded third-grader. The song "Those Whom the Gods Detest" goes on and on about how "I refuse the orders of this god, I'm not afraid of death, I challenge these holy texts..." It's not only an idea that's been recycled to the point of redundance, but the very words on this song (as well as all the others) are so blunt that you honestly can take nothing seriously in this whole album.
That's one pain in the ass out of the way. One down, two to go. The guitars. Well, most of the actual riffage on this album is tremolo guitarwork mixed with a chord sweeped up and down to make it sound "brutally Egyptian". Of course, there aren't many actual riffs on this album. Most of the guitar work is chugging in the form of mindless slams (the bridge of "Kafir") and death metal-style breakdowns (the goddamn entirety of the 9-minute song "4th Arra of Dagon") with about as much thought put into them as a person puts into breathing while asleep. The solos are boring, and basically consist of more wanking than you'll find in the college dorm of a dozen single virgins. They never stick with you; the only thing you'll remember of them is how technical they were: so technical, in fact, that you cannot remember a fucking thing about them. And we all know it's great when you can't remember how great it was, right? A lot of the songs also seem to steal riffs from Annihilation and turn them into boring nonsense. "Kem Khefa Khesef" takes the main riff of "Cast Down the Heretic", "The Eye of Ra" takes after "The Burning Pits of the Duat", and "Iskander Dhul Kharnon" feels like a cheap second-rate knock-off of "Annihilation of the Wicked". Like I said, though, these are not the songs you know and love: they've been infused with idiocy so as to prevent decency from coming near. Anyway, the bass isn't doing anything important, that is, when the guitars aren't blasted so high that it's impossible to hear yourself thinking, let alone the bass guitar.
George Kollias. Is he technical? Hell yes. Is he fun to listen to? Not in the slightest sense of the word. The drums are fast, yeah, and he's technical, but can George Kollias do anything but throw fills around all day for this album? Blast-beats are hard to find, but there's a near-constant blast on the double bass that never lets up. Not really a complaint, just an observation. But truly, this guy can never stop doing fills. At the end of every measure, hell, sometimes in the middle of one, he'll start a random fill to let you realize his prowess!
Wow...this is pathetic in so many ways. Pseudo-Egyptian riffs that are hard-pressed to be called even death metal, shouting vocals that sound bored and uninterested, and a drummer that has a muscle spasm at the end of every measure. If I were to sum it up in a sentence, I'd call it...intentional de-evolution of a great idea. This album sucks green gangrenous goat gonads...avoid as if it were a Linkin Park record.
At first, I was a bit hesitant to pick up this album. I thought after Ithyphallic, which was still a good album, that Nile might run out of ideas that fit into their Egyptian style. However, Those Whom the Gods Detest reassured me that Nile is quite capable of coming up with new ideas. Although Annihilation of the Wicked is still the best Nile album in my mind due to its driving, dark sounds, this album is one of the best.
Karl Sanders and Dallas Toler-Wade make an interesting team. I like the way Karl can make the most exotic and intricate patterns and scales work for death metal and when mixed with Dallas's intense, edgy vocal and guitar playing, they make a sound that is so unique and memorable that it defines Nile. However, as you will notice after listening to this band, George Kollias (the drummer) is really the driving force behind the heavy sound of Nile. He double kicks faster and more precisely than any death metal drummer and manages to create sick beats to even the most complex Nile riffs.
WIth these three parts of Nile, it would be a shame to see them fall apart. However, Those Whom the Gods Detest put those thoughts to rest. After utilizing primarily Egyptian themes for their songs, this album starts out with Kaffir, which starts has Islamic themes to it. Although the difference may be subtle, it is just enough to show that Nile is more diverse and creative than ever before.
This album hits hard, and Utterances of the Crawling Dead is a true testament to this. Kollias goes absolutely crazy with the double kick and does it without sounding out of control. The riffs are also, while typical Nile riffs, original and not at all boring. Nile is back and with Those Whom the Gods Detest prove that they are as brutal as ever.
Alright, credit where it’s due: Karl Sanders is probably the only songwriter who can title a song “Hittite Dung Incantation” and not have me chuckle on first hearing about it.
But that’s the special thing about Nile’s (once again well-researched) lyrics: despite the elaborately mythological, often explicitly brutal concepts they growl about, the lyrics take themselves entirely seriously, and not in a later-Cannibal Corpse way, where all that’s missing is some kind of tongue in cheek sensibility. Rather, Sanders’ way of lyric writing is from the perspective of one who so fervently believes in the brutal concepts being written about. To use an older example, the lyrics to Black Seeds Of Vengeance wouldn’t have been nearly effective if their gory aspects were played for shock value rather than as a desperate rallying cry.
That said, in any genre where the vocals are distorted so, the songwriting craft must play first fiddle to any aspect involving the vocals and lyrics. In that respect, and in the tradition of the killer Annihilation Of The Wicked, this album succeeds where the aforementioned Black Seeds did not.
The first thing to hit is the production: the wicked, deathly crunch of Kafir’s opening riff sets a tone of pitiless anger that gets carried throughout the record. That opening song will please fans like myself of Ithyphallic’s opener; though it carries a vaguely similar atmosphere, it’s a more compact listen. The drums have a less in-your-face sound than on this album’s predecessor, the quality-wise somewhat ambivalent Ithyphallic, letting the riffs and vocals steal the show. (bass? What’s a bass?)
The vocals are similar to Ithyphallic’s, in that you can probably understand most of the higher growls without the booklet, and this is a turn for the band that I prefer. But the booklet itself deserves a special look nonetheless: anyone disappointed with Ithyphallic’s lack of liner notes will be happy to know that they’re back, and just as informative, entertaining, and far lengthier than ever. Once again, they’re quite a fascinating read on their own terms.
My absolute highlight of this album is the title track: check the band’s signature reverberating acoustics, blended with the dominating riff attack and chorus bearing a strange, new quasi-clean vocal effect that manages to be downright chilling. While Nile has their hit and miss moments, here they manage to create a truly towering, imposing atmosphere.
The more compact songs – the aforementioned dung ditty, Permitting The Noble Dead etc., Utterances Of The Crawling Dead and so on, show Nile in traditional form, albeit bolstered by the production value. It seems that with the exception of the muddy Black Seeds Of Vengeance, Nile’s production improves with every release. I, for one, prefer their more sprawling work as opposed to the more compact numbers, but these aren’t bad. They flow together well, although taken separately, all but the most veteran of Nile aficionados may have difficulty telling them apart.
Karl Sanders is a musician who seems bent on pushing his songwriting and performance abilities with each successive release, and this album is a finely balanced example of brutalizing, yet distinctive modern death metal. It’s not perfect, yet it still deserves a place in the extreme metal fan’s library.
For the longest time I would much rather have listened to Behemoth’s Satanica through to Demigod era material than to have to sit through yet another boring as shit Nile album. See, in my humble opinion, Nile has only two really spectacular albums, their first and their last-this one, “Those Whom the Gods Detest”. Once I finally snapped out of it and realized Behemoth was stupid, I decided to banish all my ancient Egyptian themed metal albums (maybe like two or three) to the land of wind and ghosts, or something. Either way I didn’t listen to them anymore, probably never will again. The only other such band worth a hoot these days seems to be Mithras; who pertain to an entirely different tangent of study of mythological history, although many of their riffs and scales are very similar. I would also like to shred light on the very similar crushing/pummeling percussion style evoked in, say, “Forever Advancing… Legions” and Nile’s new full-length.
So what makes everything else Nile’s done suck? Directionless, overwhelming, boring drumming; unnecessarily fast and boring pseudo-grind “riffs” that you can’t even understand; absurd lyrics; the constant back and forth of fast/nonsense riffs and pretty half-decent death metal riffs, all of which are way too down-tuned; the fact that you had to wait through like three whole tracks on “In Their Darkened Shrines” before one OK death metal riff popped up. C’mon people, Nile is not very good-for the most part. Other than “Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka” and this new one, I only respect Karl Sanders for his dedication to the genre, his big juicy brain, and him just being one of the absolute coolest pieces of shit walking around out there. And here he is… THRASHING THE FUCK OUT!!!!!!!
“Those Whom the Gods Detest” is a fucking miracle in a lot of different ways. For one, Erik Rutan could have literally polished the turd. What do you get when you cross a mid-career Nile album, and a drum engineer from Hate Eternal? A nap. Or that’s what I thought at first anyway, then as I sat down to drink it all in, I was astounded with how not overbearing the drums are. They’re smooth and warm and sexy, in fact much of the double-bass, even at full blast, sits just under the guitars in the mix. Is that seriously what just happened? The crappy, boring drummer from Hate Eternal made the crappy, boring drums from Nile sound very competent? I guess multiplying two negatives really does equal a positive.
Oh yeah, the whole thrashing out thing too! Well, Nile really has incorporated tons of different metal styles into one big monster over the years since “Catacombs…” whether the albums were any good or not. They used doom, death, death/grind, ambient, and even black metal. Curiously, there’s more black metal inspired stuff on many of their albums than most other styles; what with the nonstop double-kick, epic sounding scales, a dirt-nasty guitar tone, the hopeless feel of repetition and all that jazz. Whatever, second and third wave black metal is stupid. The gods detest it, that’s why this new album rips. There’s material on here that sounds like Dark Angel could have written it, it rises to the surface only occasionally as a bridge to something more Nile oriented, but it’s there. Other than the overt doom influenced songs, every track on this album features a genuinely awesome thrash sequence. I’d say the best example of this is the song “Kem Khefa Khesef”.
Another factor in this album’s success was how Sanders decided not to tune his guitar too low. It doesn’t really matter how good the material is, if your guitar is too low, and your drums are too loud, it’s going to sound like shit, or rather, you won’t be able to make out what it sounds like at all (literally half of the whole album “In Their Darkened Shrines”). Nope, not this time around, the gods detest it, this time the axes are crunchy and light, and there isn’t a moment on the disc that you don’t hear perfectly what they’re trying to do. A Nile-milestone! Usually when they try to grind, the result is an ambiguous winding noise that serves only to sound like it’s going faster and faster, with no riff structure over the drums. This time, whenever they pull that crap it works, because with a lighter guitar tone it is easier to determine how the blisteringly fast grinding riffs are situated over the rhythm.
And holy butt-cheeks is this album tight. That’s another thing you could say about Nile, they were never that tight. At least not as tight as they should have been for how fast they were trying to go. Which is superficial any way you look at it. But thrash requires speed to function properly, and I’d wager any amount of money that this album is heavier than their others for having a lighter guitar tone. Man, some of the hooks and riffs on “Those Whom the Gods Detest” are so razorfucking sharp that it begs the question “would this album be what it is if not for the precision?” I like it when technical shit is coherent. There’s a time and place for sloppy… anything, but not on here!
So what about the unorthodox lyrics? Let’s look at this objectively, shall we? There is a good several paragraphs of lyrics in the liner notes devoted to the issuance of accurate, meticulously translated and non-translated spells, wordings, incantations, and various other texts disclosing even the minutiae of ancient Egyptian life. Scholarly work, though eventually Sanders will break away into croaking “I will not speak the spell for not dying again, nay, I will not speak…” (I’m pretty sure ancient Egyptian people didn’t say “nay”) and then having that build up into “WE ARE THEY WHO THE GO-ODS DETEEEESSSST!!!!” Like any good band, they take a big fat booty-behind dose of Spinal Tap before they compile an album. None of this crap is meant to be taken too seriously. Despite how seriously menacing the thrash riffs are… for 2010.
One other note on the drums, when this style of death metal percussion is engineered and approached properly, it’s just fine. I’m a guy who listens to Fuck… I’m Dead. It doesn’t at all annoy me when it’s done right! I also own “Those Whom the Gods Detest” on the limited to 1000 pressings, sand colored vinyl. If there were any Nile album worth owning on vinyl… this is it ‘cause the sound is just excellent. Not to mention Mr. Sanders’ lengthy back-up research he provides yet again for further reference. Some of the things he passively writes are outrageously funny. This album really could be their best. Except for their first, back when they were playing strictly death/grind. “The Howling of the Jinn” still might be the best thing they’ve ever written.
In summation, what you should be taking away from this review is that exactly five out of the ten cuts on this piece are deliberately (and authentically) thrashed out.
Nile Thrashing Out!!!!!
Dear Nile: Please stop writing songs longer than five minutes tops. You will never, EVER have enough ideas to sustain a song of that length because frankly you are just not that smart. Stick with short, blasty little numbers; I mean, your track record isn't perfect there, but there's at least some chance you won't fuck it up egregiously. As a related note, just stop with the slow songs. Just stop. All the good ideas you had for things like that were used up on your first album. There's no blood coming from the doom stone.
I say this because, really, '4th Arra Of Dagon'? I mean, who listens to that and thinks that it's in any way a good idea? Possibly the most horribly bloated and droning track on 'Those Whom The Gods Detest', the song drags itself around like a dog with worms for almost NINE FUCKING MINUTES before collapsing under the weight of its obese running time. This is indicative of the nature of 'Those Whom The Gods Detest' as a whole: it drags itself out about twenty minutes longer than it could possibly need to be, making for the Nile album suffering the greatest number of attempted murders at the hands of its creators' egos.
This is probably a little worse than 'Ithyphallic', which is actually amazing because the best parts on this release are much better than the best on the earlier one. The problem is that whenever something interesting pops up, Colonel Sanders and crew are right there to kneecap it before it can reach any sort of success. Flickers of brilliance in riffing and song structures dot this album like so many islands of sanity amidst the usual tech-retardation that Nile specializes in. This time, though, Nile has an even bigger budget than before, meaning that the retardation present is of an unprecedented scope and texture.
'Those Whom The Gods Detest' has, I'm convinced, the cheesiest, most stereotypically 'Egyptian' riffs Nile has ever written. You can tell when they're occurring because you will literally cringe when you hear them; they're like something you would hear in a Bugs Bunny cartoon where the eponymous rabbit dresses up like a pharaoh. Between those are generally bland tech death riffing, and, of course, giant held chords with the usual awfully-employed keyboard backing. Unsurprisingly, the best tracks on this album are the last three (being the only ones I can unequivocally call 'good songs') because they are devoid of all the excessive adornment that newer Nile defines itself by. They're traditional tech death tracks with an Egyptian flair, and while some of the awful lead guitar tries to murder these songs in their cribs, it's thankfully unsuccessful.
By the way, an open letter to George Kollias: You're not impressing anybody, and if somehow you are, the people you're impressing AREN'T IMPORTANT. Kollias takes the 'constant fills' style of Sandoval or Mounier to its retarded endpoint, where he literally cannot stop spazzing out on the kit and try to be tasteful for even a moment. Variation in drumming is all well and good, but Kollias is varied to a fault, literally unwilling to hold down any particular rhythm for more than three seconds before switching cymbals, doing a fill, or otherwise smacking the drums like a retarded flipper baby on meth. It's tasteless and detracts massively from the overall worth of the music.
For god's sake Nile, don't you see WHY 'Annihilation Of The Wicked' is your most revered album? It's tasteful and I can listen to the whole thing without wanting to throw up! You would think that Nile would understand how this sort of thing works: everyone loves that album, so try and replicate that album's success. But no! They decided that the reason everyone loved 'Annihilation Of The Wicked' is due to the minor technical flourishes which popped up occasionally, so in Nile's classic ability to miss the point, they made an album of nothing but technical flourishes. Also the demented Arabic warbling is just as horrible as the solos; again, cringe-inducing.
Oddly enough, as much as I've had to say regarding this album's faults, I really don't hate it. Oddly enough, even though it's a worse album, I like it more than 'Ithyphallic', which feels distinctly pretentious and cripplingly boring to boot. 'Those Whom The Gods Detest' is mediocre in a more honest way; the band is clearly desperately trying (if failing) to write something compelling. It just doesn't work. There's honestly much worse Nile albums than this but now that this review is complete it will be relegated to a once a year listen and mostly forgotten.
After a good few years as a Nile listener, fan, and reviewer, I know the expectation implied from the proposition of a new album from these death metal masters will reflect not only Karl Sanders’ encyclopedic knowledge of ancient Egyptian culture, some of the fastest and most emotionally driven drumming from George Kollias, very down to earth technical and brutal guitar playing from Sanders and Toler-Wade, shrieking and wailing solos with that small high-pitched wailing, twanging twinge of Egyptian influenced original death metal sound, and a gruesome mixture of gurgling gutturals, low growls, and clean screams from Sanders and Toler-Wade. Though near perfect quality was already expected, astonishingly technical musicianship was already required, and experimentation with different cultural, ambient, and aesthetic sounds was already in demand, it seemed as though Sanders was nowhere near running out of gruesome scenes for his ancient Egyptian and Lovecraft inspired lyrical forays into the darkest parts of the human psyche. Nile could have made not only another passable album but another stunning masterpiece in the vein of the four year old “Annihilation of the Wicked”, but Karl Sanders chose to change things up with “Those Whom the Gods Detest”. Left over from his ambient project of the same name, Karl Sanders instead chose to use many Eastern instruments and recordings that did not make it onto “Saurian Meditation”, “Saurian Exorcisms”, or any previous Nile albums, and instead wrote some very intense and very experimental songs on the subjects of not only Egypt, but many eastern religions, cultures, and even went so far as to attack a major modern eastern religion through his music.
Beginning the album with that attack, the opening track “Kafir!” refers to the viciously independent people of Kafiristan who defied thousands of years of invasions, Alexander the Great’s massive armies, and fought the spread of Islam from a small province in Afghanistan. The song explodes with the first prayer a Muslim child hears after birth which is then cut down by battle cries proclaiming, “there is no god, there is no god, there is no god” throughout the chorus of the song bringing forth a description of a society nearly erased from history by the Muslims. This song is the cry of an ancient culture attempting to rise and gain the importance and respect it deserves, but because this small provincial people were finally conquered by 1895, this province, like all conquered civilizations throughout history, doesn’t get the acknowledgement it is due. The song itself is just another stop on the “OH MY FUCKING SATAN” train that is Nile’s music. Winding through mountains of snare, cymbal, and double bass blasts and limitless forests of riffs, every element of the song flies by at a pace that is made comprehensible by the notion of the fierce and vast conflict between two cultures covering miles of blood soaked desert that “Kafir!” represents. “Kafir!” is the perfect opening track for this Nile album as it both instantly expands the scope of Nile’s focus and immediately confronts and attacks the biggest kid on the block (Middle Eastern Islam) to gain supremacy over his domain. Since attacking religion today isn’t as ballsy as it was ten to fifteen years ago, Sanders instead strives for a more intelligent focus for his attack. This delivery, even with such a straightforward chant as “there is no god” is still as precise as a daisy cutter into a cave. With this start, Nile sets the stage for what can only become their greatest album so far.
Since nearly every song (and Sanders’ liner notes for every song), is just as epic as the first, I will try to keep this review as encompassing as possible, but some songs deserve deeper examination.
As stated above, George Kollias’ godlike drumming is increasingly becoming the focal point of Nile’s music. The intrigue of this Greek percussionist who first appeared with the band on “Annihilation of the Wicked” never ceases to amaze when he drops a double bass blast like in the first seconds of “Hittite Dung Incantation”, when he rolls the entire kit along the guitar riffs in “Those Whom the Gods Detest”, or drives an entire song with ankle, shin, and femur-shattering double bass like in “4th Arra of Dagon”. Kollias throws every bit of himself into his drumming and brings one of the most impassioned and organic death metal thunders that I’ve heard in a long time to the mix of Nile’s sound. The production is top notch for all the instruments on the album, but especially accurate in the sound of the drums as each instrument of the kit comes in with utmost clarity and precision. For fear of jinxing this drummer’s career and astonishing ability (and because I’m going to see Nile soon), I’m not going to say he’s perfect yet, but Kollias is definitely one of the best percussionist’s I’ve ever heard and delivers such a regal sound to the overall epic approach of Nile’s music that his addition to the band has given them almost limitless potential.
The title track of this album is a masterpiece to say the least. It seems Sanders outdoes himself with just every title track. “Those Whom the Gods Detest” stands out amongst the title tracks in the annals of Nile’s discography for a few reasons. First, the soloing section at around 5:00 is blistering with sections reminiscent of “Sacrifice to Sebek” in their “Annihilation of the Wicked” album. Though the elongated solo could be a lost section from the, “Annihilation of the Wicked” demo tapes, it is still very original and has a different tonal flavor focusing more on the higher end of the guitar riffs that give the song it’s very eastern feel rather than the pummeling bass and drum sounds. Though this album has a slight preoccupation incorporating different eastern ambient mixes into the overall landscape of the music, George Kollias’ drumming shows a considerable amount of focus on the elements that made Nile the death metal powerhouse they began as while Sanders and Toler-Wade bridge the gap between the two different styles in their guitar work. From the very eclectic opening employing solely eastern instruments and eastern sounding vocals to the boisterous explosion of riffs and the persistent butchery of the skins, “Those Whom the Gods Detest” demonstrates the prominence of Nile’s musical expertise and the drive of the band’s thematic focus.
Sanders and Toler-Wade play some amazing guitar in this album. Songs like “Kafir!”, “Permitting the Noble Dead to Descend to the Underworld”, and “Iskander Dhul Karnon” feature intense paced riffs that bring both a maelstrom of sound and a blistering dynamic that Sanders, Toler-Wade, and a few guests exemplify with their vocals. Every element of the music blends well into the rest of the mix and balances well enough that the instruments that take center stage don’t hurt the performances of the other instruments. In all, this quality production has helped Nile advance their music to another height of power as their riffs have become even more complex, dynamic, and intricate on their own but gain another dimension as Kollias’ drumming, the vocals, and different ambient sounds and eastern instruments breathe life into the guitar sections.
To accompany this magnanimous offering, Sanders has written another encyclopedia of liner notes giving not only an insight to the different foci of each song, but an insight into different cultures vastly alien to Nile’s mainly North American and European audiences. Like his past sets of liner notes, Sanders ensures that none of his musical themes are recycled and yet again expands the scope of Nile’s direction to cover thousands of years of Middle Eastern, East African, and Arabian history, mythology, culture, and tradition. Reciprocating the regal approach of Kollias’ drumming, Sanders has ensured to his fans that this album is a great undertaking and the result of much hard effort toward a focused goal.
Sanders, Toler-Wade, and Kollias have unleashed a masterpiece with “Those Whom the Gods Detest”, an album I can only call their magnum opus. It’s hard to compare an album like this, which has advanced above the focus of ancient Egypt that was taken previously up to “Ithyphallic”, with Nile’s past albums because Nile sounds like an evolved form of themselves. Rather than their “In the Darkened Shrines”, “Annihilation of the Wicked”, and “Ithyphallic” era, they seem to be coming into a new era in their music, and it’s just as astonishing as the previous.
Nile has surpassed the old expectations of their music and expanded their viewpoint. Nile has evolved and challenged their own ability, and they have now become an even stronger death metal powerhouse. If this were their last album, I would be content with Nile’s career, but because there is no sign of Nile calling it quits, it seems that we are witnessing just another remarkable chapter in the epic book of Nile.
Nile is without doubt one of the best and most acclaimed death metal acts around today. Over the years they have treated us to some astonishingly well-composed- and played death metal and Those Whom the Gods Detest is no exception.
This album grows. And just when you thought it couldn't get any bigger, you find some new stuff in there you hadn't paid attention to before. There are so insanely many details in each song that it takes spin after spin to find them all. This, in my opinion, is what defines the metal that lies on top of good metal. It's not just interesting the first 15 spins. It keeps clawing you back in for another spin.
George's drumming is insanely precise and well-performed. I don't know what planet this man comes from, but after being blasted away at well over 260bpm for several minutes it's hard to believe that what he does is actually possible. But of course it is. He plays his signature fast drumming with kickdrum controlled fills, but he also perfects the more seemingly slow paced passages where he makes good use of, among other things, his extra snaredrum to create this sense of varied rhythms within an otherwise insanely fast pattern. I guess you could say that he has reached speeds so high, that without accentuation on the different drums and cymbals, it would almost sound like one tone.
The guitar work of Karl and Dallas is stellar to say the least. Several places the use of these tiny melodic twists at the end of a riff is what seems to inject that "egyptian" feel to it all. Combined this with the atmospheric solos and melodies spread throughout the album and you have something that feels both unique and familiar at the same time. I don't know how they do it, but somehow Nile always ends up sounding fresh and new, even though the formula essentially has been the same from the very beginning of the bands' career. To mention one particular melodic passage that excites me everytime i hear it, it must be the simple, yet immensely fitting melody at 1:33 in "Permitting The Noble...".
The vocals of Dallas and Karl are another gem on this album. Most memorable is the chanting at 6:08 in "4th Arra..." and at 1:57 of the title track - but generally Dallas' vocal work is once again one of the ingredients that makes this album become more than mere death metal mixed with egyptian themes. His vocals actually sound as if they were spoken by the ancient egyptians and then send to the future to be recorded onto this album. I don't know what it is exactly, but the way each sentence is delivered - the punch, the pitch, the almost snarling nature of it is just brilliant.
Lastly, there is the one thing that ties everything together which is, of course, Karls' egyptian themed acoustic arrangements. He is a master of creating the glue that makes each song stand out. Whether it to create diversity with an intro as heard on the title track or the chanting at the end of "Kafir!", which is later followed up in the all-acoustic track "Yezd Desert Ghul...", it all serves to tie the record together into the masterpiece that it is.
Ultimately, it is all in the details. If you haven't heard this album yet, give it a spin. And then give it another spin, and another and so on and so forth. I promise you, you will find new stuff to appreciate with each play-through.
Opening an album with the refrain "There is no God but God" suggests a band who mean business, and when it comes to Nile you can always be sure that this is the case, for this Egyptian-obsessed death metal elite are one the most invigorating and inspired bands that the genre of death metal has seen in years. Yes 2007's "Ithyphallic" may not have been the perfect follow-up to the sublime "Annihilation of the Wicked" but for sheer adrenaline rush the playing of Nile's music is hard to beat in a genre that is intended primarily to invoke intense reactions among lovers and haters alike.
I have met very few death/extreme metal fans who don't harbour an appreciation towards Nile, with the simple reason being that Karl Sanders and co. sit atop a creation of mind-melting brutality and technicality, headed in a style resoundingly unique in a field of imitators and imitators' imitators. It's simply impossible to dislike Nile if you call yourself a death metal fan - they really do have it all and with a discography to prove this strength you could say the need for another excellent album wasn't utmost. But then having another excellent slab of Nile is never going to do anyone any harm, right?
When Nile click all the right buttons they have a tendency to provide this listener at least everything he listens for in death metal these days, as exemplified by the title track of this record, opener "Kafir!" and my personal favourite, "Permitting the Noble Dead to Descend to the Underworld". A simple cursory listen to these three tracks should be enough evidence to answer the rarely heard question, "why are Nile so popular?" because somewhere in the machine-like drumming of George Kollias, the downtuned-to-the-bowels-of-hell riffs of Karl Sanders and Dallas Toler-Wade and their unholy mix of gut-wrenching vocal styles are a collection of songs that are far beyond the compositional and performance reaches of their many competitors.
To say there are any 'bad' songs on "Those Whom The Gods Detest" would be a severe overstatement but the album in it's latter stages does have moments in which the high standards attained earlier are momentarily relaxed to compensate for the need to vary dynamics across the album's 56 minutes. However I find it a fair assumption to make that if more bands were as unique and reliable as Nile continue to be today, the world of death metal would be a far more interesting one than it currently is where a small handful of bands are required to produce the genre's moments of real quality. Bands like Nile that would be then.
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net
I have been a huge Nile fan for many years now. Heard them in 2001, and have been following them ever since. They never disappointed me until I heard Ithyphalic. The songs dragged for no reason at all, the three vocal onslaught, that made the band sound so unique, was missing and there was no one track on the album I could pinpoint and say truly deserves to be in the Nile catalog and is something they haven't attempted in the past. It was just a very, very weak effort as opposed to the thunderous ITDS, BSOV and even AOTW.
However, with this new album, the band has attempted, with real devotion too if I might add, to return to their older sound without re-hashing a lot of what made them so great back in the day. The songs do not tend to drag a whole lot, the separation of vocals has improved a great deal, something which made Ithyphallic sound boring, as Dallas dominated 95 % of that record throughout. That's not to say he doesn't here, but Karl complements his delivery a lot more.
Also, the production is so much better. The clicky drum sound has been replaced with a crushing one, and really shows just how good Kollias is behind the kit, and all the doubts there might have been about the guy seem to now be at rest. A true monster of a drummer, and his playing is heard full-front
That's not to say the album doesn't have a fair share of problems. First of all, the fascination with repeating the song title has grown even more. It sounded fine in BSOV and in a song or two in AOTW, but they overdid it in Ithyphallic. Most of the songs have these 'chant-like' repetitions of the song titles, but they do not sound half as epic as they did in BSOV. What they do sound like is a band not knowing what to growl about, and so, resorting to yell the title as much as possible in about 70 % of the songs. It gets really annoying after a while. We get it, Karl. We know what song we are listening to. Please, move on. Write something intelligent like you did on the first few albums. Repeating a song's title again and again is incredibly boring, and does not help in making it sound epic.
Secondly, the longer songs have nothing on tracks like Unas Slayer of the Gods & To Dream of Ur. What made these songs so different was the instrumentation employed. What the two songs on TWTGD lack is that feel, that feel of an epic, the sound of impending doom that was so heavily present on Unas & To Dream. Not to mention, these so-called 'epic' tracks also resort to dragging once in a while, though it's nothing extreme like in 'Annihilation of the Wicked' & 'What Can Be Safely Written'. Those tracks could have easily been four minutes shorter in my opinion.
As a conclusion, it can be said that the album, while having some plus points as compared to the previous effort, still doesn't feel like it could stand with their best albums. The production is much better, the vocals have improved, the drum sound is insane, but the weaknesses mentioned hinder the album getting a higher score, which is a shame because it sounds like the band is starting to run out of ideas after AOTW. The next album really needs to bring the greatness of ITDS and BSOV back for me to really care for the band again. Doesn't seem like a 70+ % release at all.
Pros: Good, heavy production. Thunderous drum work, improvement in the vocal delivery department as compared to Ithyphallic, some punishing sections in 'Kafir!'
Cons: Vocals are weak as compared to ITDS & BSOV, the 'epics' could have been shorter, which is not a great thing for said songs, repetitions of song titles in several songs tends to sound highly annoying, Egyptian atmosphere not dominant as was in the first three albums.
If you know death metal, then you know Nile. And if you know Nile, then you know that the level of their music and musicianship is always a notch above everyone else in terms of execution, speed and intensity. Nile has never been known to hold back in whatever they do – it’s full on, guns blazing death metal, always provided with a touch of class a lot of bands don’t seem to have.
So what does this album – Nile’s 6th – have to offer? Well, first of all, Nile is, in many ways, like Cannibal Corpse. You pretty much know what to expect when going into a new Nile record. Their sound is set in stone, but always add new layers to it, which somehow still manages to keep things interesting and fresh. Blazing riffs, ridiculous drumming, weird chords, inhuman vocals, chants and guitar gymnastics that would make even Vinnie Moore blush in some parts.
We once again see Neil Kernon recording and mixing the album, with Erik Rutan working on the drum tracks. The end result is Nile’s tighest album to date, and that’s no small feat, considering their quite impressive back catalog.
Nile do not fuck around. They take their craft very seriously, and put a lot of time and work into their albums, which is instantly noticable. From the first few seconds, you know that this is not just a standard death metal album featuring some idiot with a down tuned LTD. Nile write and execute their songs with the precision of a razor blade.
"Kafir!" literally bursts it’s way out of your speakers, kicking, clawing, biting. The first thing you’ll notice is the stellar production and mix, as it feels like you’ve just been clubbed in the head with a sledgehammer. George blasts away, Karl and Dallas unleash a fury of blazing riffs, end the end result is a sonic assault which will shake the very calcium off of your bones. The part which caught me the most was the insane interlude at 2:26, which then progresses into a slow, doomy section. It paves the way perfectly for the Arabic chanting as the song climaxes. And what a climax – the part at 4:32 sends chills down my spine every time I hear it. There is just something about that Arabic sound, that tone, which makes the hairs on my arm stand up. They’re quickly mowed down by Karl and Dallas’ insane leads which follow, with the chant searing in the background gracefully in between the guitar solos.
That there, ladies and gentleman, is a fucking flawless start.
Yet it just gets better, as the madness entitled "Hittite Dung Incantation" literally collapses your lungs with the force of George’s ridiculous drum intro. I mean seriously, this is now taking the piss, surely? The fluidity of that double bass is just ridiculous, and with no guitars or bass burying them in sound, the overall effect is just astonishing. And the song hasn’t even started! Karl and Dallas seem to play a lot of linear lines on this album, and the passages in this song are a prime example of them playing together in brutal harmony. The guitars sound crisp, bright, yet still warm, and they are just the right level of balance on the record. Not too loud, not too quiet. The riffs however, are definitely something to brag about on this track – they are just fucking stellar. The guitar solos as well, are insane and executed in the most merciless fashion imaginable. This particular track has quite few sections to digest, and they are all gold. You’ll find yourself repeating this one quite often. So many gems throughout.
Another thing which is really quite interesting, is that Nile have brought back the obvious Egyptian influences and sounds like they were on "Black Seeds of Vengeance", so no longer are they buried deep in the guitars, this time around they are more evident, and there is a lot of instrumentation going on. All of which sets the general tone and feel for the album. Some may not like it, but this personally, is what I’ve always loved about Nile. So it was surely a treat for me to hear all sorts of instruments laid out over the usual Nile carnage. "4th Arra of Dagon", is a prime example, in the verse riffs. More of a mid paced song, it grinds it’s way through your skull, managing to rattle books off their shelves with it’s massive low end chunk. Karl’s vocals are an absolute delight, and he just adds to the already deep low end. The section at 5:36 boasts one of the most evil passages on the album – slow, menacing, deep chanting. The guitars sound like… I don’t know. They just sound fucking larger than Gibraltar. This is surely going to be a live favorite, with everyone in attendane chanting away.
Nile have always been known for their killer intros, and "The Eye of Ra" is right up there with the best, thanks to George, who follows the guitars flawlessly, creating an air tight passage of destruction. The guitars grind, slice and hack through your ears, and they contain just the right amount of variation so it keeps the track fresh and enjoyable. The little things are the highlight here, such as the riff at 1:29 – god like it is, it managed to draw a huge grin from my face. The melody line which soars across the track is powerful and grand, and gives the track it’s main life force. For me personally, the song climaxes at exactly 3:51, with George’s insane drum fill at 3:54. Sounds like a fucking tank just plowed it’s way through my living room.
A nice mix of "Annihilation of the Wicked" and "Black Seeds of Vengeance", this album is a perfect mix of balance of what makes Nile their own, and will not do any wrong to any Nile fan. Add to that the masterful guitar wizardry and jaw dropping drumming, and you have yourself a treat for just about any death metal fan. The vocals especially, are some of Karl’s and Dallas’ best to date, and also features contributions by Pete Hammoura, Chief Spires, Jon Vesano and Mike Breazeale, making it a truly special gift to all Nile fans.
Nile's Karl Sanders has given the people what they want on the death metal trio's latest full-length and has provided the extensive liner notes that were so integral to the band's output early in this decade and so sorely missed on 2007's Ithyphallic. Reading through the booklet for Those Whom the Gods Detest may take an hour of your time, but it's well worth and it demonstrates Sanders' vast knowledge of his chosen subjects of Egypt and Lovecraft.
Musically, the album is also a return to form. Whereas parts of Ithyphallic dragged from an occasional lack of interesting melodies to drive the slow parts and a lack of coherence to the fast parts, every part of the new album feels meticulously planned. Album-opening one-two punch "Kafir!" and "Hittite Dung Incantation" gives the listener everything they might look for in a Nile album in two songs. There's Middle Eastern melodies played on acoustic instruments, clean Qawwali-inspired vocals, menacing groove riffs, light speed solos, and some of the best death metal vocals this side of, well, Death.
The refrain of "Kafir!" is among the notable highlights of the album: "There is no god but God / There is no god but the one true God / There is not god but the hidden God / There is no God / There is no God" is somewhat uncharacteristically anti-religion for Nile, but fits perfectly into the theme of the album, which can be summed up, more or less, by the title. Sanders elaborates more on the theme in the aforementioned masterful liner notes. "Permitting the Noble Dead to Descend to the Underworld" is the token fast song, and easily matches its predecessors "Lashed to the Slave Stick" and "Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve Its Possessor Against Attacks From He Who Is In the Water".
What really makes this album special is the clear dedication Nile have for their craft. The meticulously collected liner notes and album art and lyrics all tying into a theme serve to enhance the formidable death metal that they adorn. This might be the best album of the year in terms of purely non-musical criteria. That isn't to say the music isn't terrific, but it does give the album some bonus points.
Karl Sanders has apparently never been to Egypt. Hearing this album almost makes me want to open a PayPal donations link to send him there. The resulting album might end up being the greatest death metal record of all time.
Lets face it, Ityphallic was a bit of a disappointment compared to their previous releases. Don't get me wrong, it was a good album, but maybe they set the bar so high with 'Annihilation...' that they just couldn't reach it. Or I'm just being picky. Either way, I felt there was some room for improvement, and I was beginning to fear that this was the start of a downward spiral. Oh, how they proved me wrong...
Nile has always had a very distinct sound. I mean, how many egyptian-mythology-themed brutal death metal bands have you heard of? Though they might not be reinventing the wheel, they've definitely trailed off of the death metal path into their own trajectory, and this album contains some of their most inventive material to date. It's obvious that Karl Sanders has inspired himself with his 'Saurian' solo-projects and made some bold moves, most notably by adding some egyptian folk-like chanting on the track 'Kafir!'. You'll also find some of the trademark, beautiful, ambient, acoustic parts that has made this band such a fresh breath of air in an otherwise crowded genre. But that's not the only reason why they're miles ahead of their peers. It's also the distinct sound of the instruments, and the impeccable musicianship. Yes, I might praise them for being inventive and forward-thinking, but there's still that instantly recongizable 'Nile' sound, and I think everybody would agree that thats not a bad thing. Growing stale is definitely not on their agenda.
Now, lets talk a little about the technical stuff. How they keep up with each other at 1000 bpm, is a mystery to me. At times, they're so perfectly synchronized, that I wonder if they're even human. The thing is, they're just as good live as they are on record, and that says a lot when you're playing this kind of music. The production is stunning as well. To a 'virgin's' ear, it might sound a bit murky and choked (at least that was my perception the first time I listened to them), but it seems that this is the perfect formula, aligning the instruments in a manor that one doesn't outshine the other, and still keeping it all from turning into incoherent sludge (did that make sense?).
Picking a standout track on this album would be demeaning, as they are all stunning in their own way, so there's no point in doing that. Just go buy it, and listen to it in its entirety. And in danger of being stoned by die-hard fans, I'd say this is their best album ever.