Review Summary: Jam-packed with eye-popping technical riffs, Nile aim to immerse you in a world of Egyptian-tinged Death Metal.
After getting my as
s kicked by “Annihilation of the Wicked
”, I figured it was about time that I started collecting the rest of Nile’s
work. After some browsing here and there, it was easily implied that “In Their Darkened Shrines
” was the next one to pick up. So I dragged my limping body to the store and found it, still pretty beat up from our past encounter. In our last match-up, Nile
was basically Chuck Liddell, and I was...alright, it wouldn’t matter anyway, it’s Chuck Liddell!
is rather unique in their genre, since they get most of their direction off of ancient Egypt, and even incorporate a good deal of Middle Eastern tone into their playing. So it goes without question that these guys are some of the most innovative and imaginative artists in the Metal community, not to mention their technical skills must’ve been handed to them by the Gods themselves. And “In Their Darkened Shrines
” is no exception.
If anything about Nile
is almost as unique as their influence, it’s the fact that they are incredibly skilled with their instruments. And this is showcased within the first song, “The Blessed Dead”. While it opens with an eerie intro, this thing soon becomes like a sludge-hammer being repeatedly bashed into your face. Chock-full of ferocious riffs, the song never slows down again. Actually, in that first song, you’ve pretty much heard more or less what this album has to offer. The next few songs, “Execration Text”, “Sarcophagus”, and “Kheftiu Asar Butchiu” are all of the same nature. Each of them, however, possesses certain traits that make them stand out from one another. “Execration Text” is a quick one-two type song, and the riffing has a huge Middle Eastern tinge to it, more-so than most of the songs on here. Most of the influence is shown in the fills that Karl and Dallas fire off periodically. With “Sarcophagus”, however, the riffs flow a bit more, but it feels more like a breather from the past two songs; an interlude, really. Because as a song, it just can’t seem to find its way as it just drones on. Surprisingly enough, “Sarcophagus” was used as a single, which is strange because the song feels as if it was used to help set up the rest of the album. Getting right back on track, “Kheftiu Asar Butchiu” picks up where “Execration Text” left off without wasting a moments notice of sheer brutality. It’s a bit more atmospheric in places, due to some effects that are used sparingly.
Anything interesting trait about Nile
is that they are, well, an epic
Death Metal band, and if there was ever something to be called their masterpiece, it would be the 11-minute long “Unas Slayer of the Gods”. Don’t let the serene Middle Eastern guitar in the beginning fool you; this song is all about power. The whole trip is equivalent to “The Blessed Dead”, but with a bit more Egyptian feel to it. There's also some great flucuation between the tempos, as at first it comes shooting out, but then it begins to slow down to a bit obtain a bit more of a sinister tone, which is largely due to the interlude the song possess where it cuts out to some tribal drumming and a horn. But just as it feels like it’s taken another path, it just comes blasting right back in. Then it’s right back to the basics with “Churning the Maelstrom”, which just aims to cripple you from its scorching speed. There’s not so much of a Middle Eastern touch to this one as others, as it feels just like a straight up Death Metal track; a nice change up, to be honest. Cutting back to another “interlude” song, “I Whisper in the Ear of the Dead” instills an image of anything that has do with Egypt in your mind: pyramids, shrines, pharaohs, etc. But that’s quickly cut out to the technical intro to “Winds of Horus”. Unfortunately, that’s about all the song has got going for it, since it’s a bit annoying after awhile. It just drags on and on, and the guitar work just isn’t as impressive as the other tracks.
It doesn’t matter if “Winds of Horus” is the weakest track on here, because this is where the title track comes into play. The title track is actually 4 songs woven together to create one. So since these last four tracks are all supposed to be as one, they shouldn’t be listened separately. Each track brings something unique to the table, complementing the others. “Hall Of Saurian Entombment” is the atmospheric intro, and the build-up that it creates that follows to “Invocation to Seditious Heresy” is unreal. Once “Invocation…” gets going from the intro, it’s a head banging trip through Hell. Blast beats and flawless shredding will leave your neck sore for hours, possibly even days to come. But just as soon as it came bashing in, it begins to close calmly, with sounds of sand blowing in the wind, only to be met by “Destruction of The Temple of The Enemies Of Ra”. Over the sounds of the sand, an amazing drum solo/intro comes pounding in. This part of the “song” is very reminiscent to “Execration Text”, as once it gets going, it never lets up its onslaught. The closing chapter, “Ruins”, is a wonderful instrumental, filled with tranquil Egyptian-styled playing and thought-provoking riffs.
Just like with most of Nile’s
work, the technical achievement of guitarists Karl and Dallas are the highlight. Not only are the riffs complete works of wonder, but their solos play center stage throughout this whole album. They’re not whiney, or misplaced, but perfectly calculated so that the listener will get the most out of them. And they aren’t just mindless wankery, either. “The Blessed Dead’s" is a testament to this, as it seemingly soars to reach the sky and then throws itself around to accommodate the song. It’s hard to tell who is actually soloing, though I think that almost all of them are Karl, but on “Unas Slayer of the Gods”, it sounds as if they are trading off, which creates a wonderfully exquisite setting. The one on “Churning The Maelstrom” contains a good chunk of melody near the beginning before Karl (I believe) unleashes his talent and wails his way on. On the whole series of the title track, the “song” that really only has a solo is the 2nd part, “Invocation to Seditious Heresy”. It’s mind-blowing, to say the least, and since all four parts are meant to be played as one, it feels as if it was intended for the whole thing; a completely amazing concept.
Karl’s voice, on the other hand, is one of the downfalls of this album. While I like it a bit more here than I do on the future release “Annihilation of the Wicked
”, there’s almost no variation in it all. It’s just a basic death-grunt the whole through. There are some intriguing vocal parts, however, like the blood-curdling speech that is read through a shouting voice on “Unas Slayer of the Gods”. It gives it even more of an epic feel, if that was even possible for that song. His lyrics, however, are the exact opposite, as they always catch me as sheer brilliance. Ruled by ancient Egypt, the themes throughout this album deal with everything from mythology to history. “Unas Slayer of the Gods” deals with Unas, who was the last Pharaoh of the 5th dynasty. Apparently, Unas grew to power by eating the flesh of his enemies and devouring their Gods (In ancient Egypt, apparently Gods could be killed, as they also aged). Some lines include “Unas Hath Ingested Their Spirits, Hath Feasted On Their Immortality. He Hath Consumed their Shadows; Unas The Slayer of the Gods!
” The whole “In Their Darkened Shrines” series is based off of a short story by H.P. Lovecraft, called “The Nameless City
”, and is about a Serpent cult who plan to overthrow the Pharonic rule. But actually, some of the best conceived lyrics aren’t even sung, or written at all. The “lyrics” are still based on the short story of H.P. Lovecraft, but they are actually supplementary to the theme of the instrumental (Parts I and IV of “In Their Darkened Shrines”). Basically, the instruments are used to tell the story.
Tony Laureano, the drummer, is just as skilled with his drums as Karl and Dallas are with their guitars. Most of his stuff is typical Death: Blast beats, frenzied pace, and incredible fills, but he does all of these with apparent ease. If ever there was a song to demonstrate this, one would have to look no farther than the opener, “The Blessed Dead”. Tony pummels his way through that song and pretty much owns it, so to speak. Nearly every time that he can throw out some rolls or fills, he does it, and they sound incredible. The bass, however, is again non-existent, but this is forgivable because Karl and Dallas laid down the bass tracks for this album.
If there was ever anything to keep this album down, it would have to be the fact that three of the songs on here are nowhere near as good as the rest. Two of them (“Sarcophagus” and “I Whisper In The Ear Of The Dead”) are borderline filler, and they don’t even feel like real songs as they are intended to be. And “Wind of Horus” is one of the most boring Nile
tracks I’ve ever heard. But unlike most Death releases, this one really isn’t all that repetitive, which is a great thing, but those three tracks certainly bring down the overall impression of the album.
Three bland tracks aside, this is pure enjoyment. Karl, Dallas, and Tony (who now is no longer apart of the band) are all more than skilled with their instruments, and the music that they put out on this album seconds that notion. And mix that in with some great Egyptian influence, and you’ve got a recipe for one mammoth of a Death Metal trip.
The Blessed Dead
Unas Slayer of the Gods
In Their Darkened Shrines