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 instantly recognisable signature sound than Nile. Renowned for evoking images of horror via an otherworldly wall of noise, Nile’s position as one of the top death metal acts today is as undisputable as their influences are unconventional and their music is unmistakable. Pin-pointing the essential Nile album is surprisingly precarious. 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 Nile 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 turned up and notch when Dallas Toller-Wade lets out a bellowing roar, only to be followed ominously by a gong and spine-tingling choir vocals.
If you manage to survive until the amusingly named sixth track, Masturbating The War God
, a pattern begins to emerge. These guys enjoy pummelling you relentlessly for the first third of a song, before wreaking havoc with a chaotic solo, usually followed by an “epic” choral finale. This sometimes manages to kill any sort of suspense or anticipation you would otherwise have had in their later, better written releases, as almost every song follows the same brutal-chaotic-epic structure. Nevertheless, despite the sometimes predictable nature of the record, there is much to enjoy with respect to the instruments. Black Seeds of Vengeance
brutal, with this album having perhaps the thickest production of any Nile release. The riffs that can be deciphered are air-tight in their execution, with intertwined, complex guitar rhythms as well as slow, lingering chords which provide the base on which the Egyptian acoustics built upon. The audibility of individual instruments as well as the lyrics does suffer as a result, but it works in creating an eerie and thoroughly unsettling atmosphere. This atmosphere is no more perfectly concocted than 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 a further reason for why Black Seeds of Vengeance
– containing the first signature Nile “epic” – could be considered Nile’s most radical album.
Black Seeds of Vengeance may not be Nile’s magnum opus or even an above average release in comparison to the rest of their catalogue, but the path it set for the rest of the albums to follow is critical to why Nile is now such a renowned and respected name in modern death metal. 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.
Defiling The Gates of Ishtar
Masturbating The War God
To Dream of Ur