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Oh my god a good Nile album, holy shit - 82%

Noktorn, September 5th, 2008

This is the album which forced me to grudgingly reevaluate my position on Nile from being an absolutely awful band to being a pretty good band who managed to inject two completely awful albums into their mid-era before returning to decent music. This, their first album, is surprisingly good! The songs are very good (if not extraordinarily memorable), the technicality isn't as absurdly overblown as later in the band's catalog, and overall it operates with much more taste, class, and quality than, say, 'In Their Darkened Shrines'. It's actually a Nile album that I can wholeheartedly recommend, something I thought I'd never find.

The most important part of this is that it's not a technical exercise. 'Black Seeds Of Vengeance' and 'In Their Darkened Shrines' oftentimes seem to be nothing but long series of vaguely Egyptian-sounding guitar theatrics grinding against overly fill-laden drumming and dull growls. Now I can't deny that the growling is still rather dull, but the lyrics aren't as excruciatingly verbose so they're less of a problem. The drumming is INFINITELY less obtrusive than it is on later releases, not fighting with the guitars for attention. The riffing is a great deal more coherent, and while it still has a high level of technicality, it all seems rather more composed instead of the aimless scale runs of 'In Their Darkened Shrines'. They occasionally have a shadow of groove or dynamics to them instead of the one-idea patterns that dominate later albums.

Much is made of Nile's ostensible atmosphere, and while I still can't claim they've ever achieved such a thing to an impressive degree, this album is about as close as they ever got. The ambient sections are still dripping with cheese, but for some reason they seem more youthfully enthusiastic instead of purely pretentious and begging for attention. The death metal sections themselves aren't greatly atmospheric, but they're probably all the better for it, since Colonel Sanders doesn't feel the need to insert artificially 'Egyptian' riffs everywhere possible to assure you that the theme is being appropriately upheld. Production is clear and sharp, not muddy and overly bassy like the following two albums.

I'm honestly not sure how Nile managed to make a very good album here but cock it up completely on the next two before returning to quality. Maybe the success went to Sanders' head and it took a few years to recover. Either way, for those doubting the ability of Nile to compose interesting, exciting, and listenable music, I'd sincerely point you to this album as an example of true quality. You won't be disappointed by this release if you have even a little taste.