Review Summary: An imperfect but critical release for these now death metal giants.
With a name that resonates distinctly within the technical death metal scene, few bands can claim to have a more recognisable signature sound than Nile. Renowned for evoking images of horror via an otherworldly wall of noise, Nile’s position among the most revered tech-death acts today is as undisputable as their influences are unconventional and their music is unmistakable. Pin-pointing the essential Nile album is surprisingly difficult. Due to their obvious quality, In Their Darkened Shrines
or Annihilation of The Wicked
are commonly cited as such. However, these two albums weren’t necessarily revolutionary or ground breaking in any sense, being the products of a formula that’s still being methodically refined and polished today. So if somebody were to ask me what the “essential” Nile release was, I’d tell them to look no further than Black Seeds of Vengeance
Although there was still much to come from the band at the turn of the new millennium, Black Seeds of Vengeance
represented Nile’s transition from a deathgrind band with a number of Egyptian nuances, to a fully-fledged Egyptian-themed technical death metal band. On their 2000 release, Nile took the Egyptian nuances of Catacombs
and blended them seamlessly with the technical fury that would go on to characterise their sound. The album begins largely in the same way as their debut, with an Egyptian-themed acoustic build-up, before catching you off guard by a barrage of brutality. However, unlike your typical death metal release, it becomes obvious that these guys aren’t just focussed on sheer brutality. There’s a hefty amount of middle-eastern melody to be found here, not in the form of interludes but in the guitar-work itself. This dedication to all things Ancient-Egyptian is exemplified by a number of Egyptian accents, including but not limited to an array of exotic acoustic and brass instruments, and even a gong.
By the time you arrive at the amusing named “Masturbating The War God”, a pattern begins to emerge with regard to the song writing. A good portion of the songs follow a linear pathway, building to a climax in the middle before the intensity subsides thereafter. Nevertheless, despite the sometimes predictable nature of the record, the instrumentation and, more specifically, production make up for it. Though it may sacrifice a touch of clarity, Black Seeds of Vengeance
sounds properly brutal. The riffs that can be deciphered are air-tight in their execution, with complex, syncopated rhythms as well as slow, lingering chords which provide a base which the Egyptian acoustics build upon. The audibility of individual notes as well as the lyrics does suffer as a result, but it works in creating an eerie and thoroughly unsettling atmosphere, exhibited best in the 9-minute “To Dream of Ur”. This type of song would go on to become a mainstay in Nile’s future releases, which is but another reason for why Black Seeds of Vengeance
– containing the first signature Nile “epic” – could be considered Nile’s essential album.
No, Black Seeds of Vengeance
isn’t Nile’s magnum opus, but the path it set for the rest of their albums to follow was critical to Nile’s success as a band. By blending two seemingly incompatible styles of music from entirely different cultures, these guys took an atypical concept and made it work, and it’s still paying dividends twelve years later.