Review Summary: Blistering speed and amazing technicality, "Annihilation of the Wicked" is a stunning achievement in the Death Metal genre.
Hello there, Nile
. Where have you been all my life?
Sometimes, an album can come in and unexpectedly knock me out of my pants. Take for example, Iron Maiden’s
self-titled, or especially my first Slayer
album, “Reign in Blood
”. I went in not expecting what to find, and then suddenly, I find myself addicted. Such is the case with Nile’s
“Annihilation of the Wicked
”. And since I’m not the biggest fan of Death Metal, I pretty much expected this to be sub-par. I came in thinking this was going to be your typical, run-of-the-mill, technical Death band that offered nothing more than blasting your face over and over until you got bored. But Nile
, while they are as how I described, aren’t boring, not even the least bit. Maybe that’s because of the unique Middle-Eastern (mainly Egyptian) influence that they’ve obtained. But, you could’ve told that from their name, couldn’t you?
“Annihilation of the Wicked
” possess all of those common Death traits, such as inhuman drumming, raw and death-embracing guitars, a seemingly inaudible bass, and of course those “death grunt” style vocals (which I’ve never been a big fan of). But package that together with unbelievable talent, and you’ve got an album just bursting it’s so hard to be contained. I mean, it’s Death Metal, yet it’s been imbued with a slight Egyptian tone; that has got to be worth something right there.
To say this album is frenzied and brutal would be an understatement. All of these tracks, especially “The Burning Pits of the Duat
”, “Lashed to the Slave Stick
”, and “Cast Down the Heretic
” are downright sinister in their approach. The technicality of these songs is just jaw-dropping, because in my eyes, when a band gets too technical, that wicked edge that they possess is dulled in favor of flashiness. But not here. When these guys get technical, shi
t hits the fan, and your head will throttle back and forth. The riffs, if anything, greatly reflect the amount of skill these guys’ posses, especially on the fills that featured on the main riff during “Sacrifice Unto Sebek
”. They can, also, fire straight-forward, like on “Chapter of Obeisance Before Giving Breath to the Inert One in the Presence of the Cresent Shaped Horns
”, and while it may be a bit simpler than the rest of the tracks on here, it’s still played with blistering speed and skill. And to continue more on the Egyptian influence, the intro track is a wonderful, single guitar played to what appears to be folk Egyptian, and I believe it’s played on a nylon guitar. The same is used for the intro to “User-Maat-Re
”. A brief interlude track, “Spawn of Uamenti
” is simply there to instill an image of a desert into your mind before the title track rocks you off your feet.
One term that you’ll hear rarely used to describe a Death Metal album is “epic”. Yeah, well, this album…is epic
. Not only are the song titles long, but the songs are as well, but they don’t wear thin, however. Three tracks on this album reach over 8-minutes, with one even almost hitting 10! I’ve almost never heard a Death song that long. But those three tracks (“User-Maat-Re
”, “Annihilation of the Wicked
”, and “Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten
”) are all magnificent works in the genre. “Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten
” is easily the slowest, and moodiest song on this album, with flowing riffs that interlock in-between a crazed onslaught, and is very reminiscent to “User-Maat-Re
”, although that song is a bit more crushing. But unlike the other two, “Annihilation of the Wicked
” is just a straight-up, chainsaw-like Death song with extreme emphasis on viciousness. A perfect blend, if you ask me.
Karl Sanders and Dallas Toler-Wade, the guitarists, play second-to-none on this album. Not only are their riffs downright incredible, but their solos are some of the best that I’ve ever come across in my life. Usually in Death Metal, as I’ve come to find out, is that soloing isn’t used in full, with solos typically being a mere 10-12 seconds of just pure shredding. And while I’m perfectly fine with that because most of them are overly enjoyable, Karl and Dallas just put them to shame. I don’t really know who does the soloing, but I expect it to be both of them, since on “Cast Down the Heretic
” it sounds as if they are trading-off. And yes, they are complete shredders, but they also hold a small sense of melody, which makes them even more appealing. The solo that comes out near the end of “User-Maat-Re
” is a slow plodder, emphasizing more on the atmosphere of the song rather than just pure technicality; a wise change up. But when Karl or Dallas want to shred, like on “The Burning Pits of Duat
”, all Hell breaks loose.
One of the main drawbacks of this album is Karl’s voice. While it’s perfectly suitable for the genre, it becomes the same after awhile. It’s a deep, death grunt that sounds as if he was barking. While it’s great and gives off a great vile impression, it gets old after awhile. I wish he’d try and whisper, or have a talking intro, or something…anything, really. Because after the first few tracks, he just sounds like he used the same voice recording on all of the songs (partially because you can’t understand what he is saying). But if you take a look at the lyrics, however, they’re very well-thought out and intriguing. They are all based off ancient Egypt, with themes being Ramesses II, the book “Am-Tuat”, and Pharaoh Akhenaten. The lyrics to “Cast Down the Heretic
” are just fascinating, with lines like “ Blows are Rained upon Thee. Dismemberment and Slaughter are on Thee. Thy Crocodile is Trampled under Foot. Thy Soul is Wrenched from its Shade. Thy Name is Erased
”. All the lyrics are almost roughly the same, waging from Egyptian mythology to past Egyptian rulers. It’s like a historians dream come true…in Death Metal form.
The drumming from George Kollias, who used to be in the Melodic Death band Nightfall
, makes his grand entrance on this album. Well, what’s there to say? His drum work is near flawless; a blasting double kick and a sharp snare. Most of his drum work is quite repetitive throughout the whole album, but it’s still some of the best I’ve heard. His fills are jaw-dropping, and while he isn’t a Dave Lombardo in my book, he’s up there. But the bass playing that accompanies is just not there. Jon Vesano virtually does nothing out of the ordinary on this album. He could leave the band, and you would never know he had even left. But still, you can tell that the bass adds a nice “punch” to the mix, so that’s always a positive thing.
But alas, this album is certainly not perfect. For starters, it’s Death Metal, which means it can get repetitive. A lot of these songs sound very similar, and some of them have nearly identical song structures. This is mostly due to the drum work, which while impressive, isn’t varied that much. Another factor that plays in is Karl’s vocals, which also deepen the repetitive wound. And while brash, “Lashed to the Slave Stick
” holds no interest to me whatsoever. While most of these tracks have a small unique trait to offer, this one does not. It’s easily the blandest song on here. Another thing that greatly disturbs me is the fact that I can’t listen to this all in one sitting. As I said before, I’m not a huge Death head, so after listening to about three or four tracks, it’s time for me to put in something else.
I stand impressed with this band. Certainly not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. But this Egyptian themed band certainly took me by surprise. Amazing talent is something that isn’t scarce here. If you even remotely enjoy the genre, check this out as soon as you possibly can. Because some repetitiveness aside, it’s one of the best that Death Metal has to offer.
Cast Down the Heretic
Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten
Annihilation of the Wicked