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Monumental - 97%

skinticket, November 5th, 2009

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.