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The True Perfected Nile - 100%

Psychopathogen, July 15th, 2013

To be honest, I’m not sure how to go about reviewing this album. It was one of my first death metal albums, and to this day remains one of my favourite, not only amongst Nile’s discography, but among all death metal I was to hear from thereon. In some ways this makes it easy and at the same time difficult to review Black Seeds of Vengeance. It is easy in that I could go on for quite some time about all the reasons that make this album so grand and magnificent, but at the same time there lies the challenge of truly doing it justice and communicating it’s breathtaking beauty without relying on the sentimentality I associate with this brilliant release. Where do I begin to describe the raw brutality present in every area of the music put forth, the mind-blowing technical prowess so endowed in the artists who create it, and the soul-strangling atmosphere that never relents its fiery grip? Perhaps I should first tell you that Black Seeds of Vengeance is absolutely and unequivocally one of the most brutal, technical, and plainly monumental death metal albums in the last 15 years. Forgive me if I appear to overplay the death metal opus this album is, but I cannot overstate the greatness of this momentous collection of unfathomably masterful and malicious music. It simply decimates.

The first thing you notice upon listening to the album, assuming of course you start with the instrumental intro, is the enticing Egyptian themed prelude, whose use of extremely unorthodox instruments and sounds sets a formidable atmosphere, similar to that of one in the great and powerful presence of Ra that gives you a taste for the awe so associated with the music to follow. The track following is arguably the album’s most brutal and crushing, “Black Seeds of Vengeance”. The title track starts us off with a ferocious blast beat, provided by drummer Derek Roddy (session drummer replacing Pete Hammoura, who preceded the great George Kollias as main Nile drummer). The guitars, handled by the masters, Karl Sanders and (for the first time in Nile) Dallas Toler-Wade, are utterly savage with the opening riff, though they sound dark and obscure. The vocals are first presented in all of their inhuman glory with a blaring guttural growl. The whole sound is inexplicably bestial and brutal, and none of it stops for a second, the brutality keeps pounding without relent. The riffs keep coming with nightmarish barbarity, and the vocals, guttural and hate filled, are spewed with unimaginable fervor. A simultaneously razor sharp and bluntly chaotic solo precedes a transition towards a powerful and epic end, composed of the ever flowing tremolo guitars and double bass, chanting vocals, and accompanied synthesized sounds that increase the epic factor exponentially. Track two done and your skull is a battered mush that Karl Sanders spreads on his sandwich. The album only continues to amaze and brutalize.

The entire album continues in this trend. The guitarists shred through genius death metal riffs, executed perfectly and with a ferocious passion that drives the music further and further. From slow and lumbering passages, such as in “The Black Flame” and “To Dream of Ur”, to the finger ripping technical ones, such as in “Masturbating the War God” and “Chapter for Turning into a Snake”, Karl and Dallas prove they are gods of death metal guitar. The guitars’ lower registers are deep and bone crushing, but the higher registers are whining and cutting. The wailing of these highs can be seen in the downright stunning solos, and when used together with the drones and bludgeoning of the lows, the product is simply orgasmic. Though brutal as the guitars are, they never surrender a sense of melody both beautiful and haunting. The harmonic minor and double harmonic keys are crushing and melodic, not to mention perfectly fitting the themes and atmospheres that Nile so skillfully create. These awesome atmospheres are only supplemented by their instrumental interludes, making excellent use of acoustics and unorthodox Egyptian/Eastern instruments to emphasize a dark, cryptic, and entrancing ambiance that transitions between songs impeccably.

Along the lines of recurring themes throughout the album includes the repeated utilization of chant like patterns and rhythms, specifically in those of the vocals. The vocals throughout the album are spectacular. Karl Sander’s guttural drones are surreal and mix perfectly with the brilliant music it accompanies. Dallas Toler-Wade also provides his own vocals to the album, roaring and demonic, but also far more guttural than those heard on later albums. As well, Dallas and Karl’s vocals are very balanced, again unlike in more recent releases. The miscellaneous guest vocal appearances are superb and prevent the slightest monotony in the vocals during any of their songs. The vocal variety is refreshing and the vocals themselves are just otherworldly and magnificent. As a display of the vocal qualities of the vocalists appearing on the album, Black Seeds of Vengeance ends with the outro track, “Khetti Satha Shemsu”, consisting of the repeated death growling of an Egyptian chant, consummating the chant like motif present throughout the album. The unison of the vocal talents of Karl and Dallas in addition to that of guests such as Ross Dolan of Immolation (!) is utterly monstrous, all led by a simple yet mesmerizing drum beat.

All of the songs, even some of the instrumentals, are necessary and do not come across as filler because they are all completely obliterating and well written. They vary in length and focus, be it on melody, atmosphere, or brutality. No matter what the song, there is an undeniable sense of passion in the performance of all members. The drummers’ emphatic blasting throughout the album is spectacular and truly represents the vibrancy and vicious vivacity of all other member’s performance.

All in all, the album is superb in its atmosphere, in the musicianship, in the absolute beauty of the songwriting and the overall ease that it is to listen to the whole album through multiple times. The production, while not as clean and quality as later releases, does not take away from the sound or any of the songs’ quality. While the guitarists demonstrate considerable proficiency, the technical aspects of the album are well balanced and never go “over the top”, as other technical death metal bands may, a la Necrophagist, Brain Drill, and such. This was only Nile’s second release but already I believe they perfected their sound, utilizing Egyptian and Eastern themes (lyrical and musical) to create superior death metal both brutal and technical, and at the same time not alienating a sense of melody occasionally. This was Nile’s masterpiece, their magnum opus. While many of their releases are fantastic, such as Annihilation of the Wicked and Those Whom the Gods Detest, this one certainly trumps some (see In Their Darkened Shrines) and gives the rest a run for their money. This is perfection, this is death metal beauty, and this is what Nile is, in every way.