Review Summary: Not even a slew of low-grade boner jokes could make Ithyphallic interesting. Seriously, I tried.
Karl Sanders is sort of like the prototypically fat, white thirty-something dude wearing a Hello Kitty t-shirt, only instead of trying to learn Japanese and running a blog dedicated to the genius of Hayao Miyazaki he writes death metal albums about Egypt and names them after the god of wine's penis. I couldn't make this up if I tried.
There are a few ways to interpret the album's title, but regardless of how you look at it the answer will always boil down to boners. Ithyphallic
can either be a reference to the phallus carried in the bacchanalia, or it could maybe have to do with the poetic metre used in hymns sung during the carrying of the phallus during the bacchanalia. Regardless of what they meant with the album title, the bigger question is why they chose one that refers to a Greek/Roman god.
Don't fret, though, Nile's focus hasn't changed; there's still plenty of random Egyptian bullshi
t scattered throughout Ithyphallic
. The label claims that Ithyphallic
is, and I quote, "the most technical and extreme album of all time", but regardless of hyperbolic press claims, it's more of the same for Nile. A lot more of the same.
starts off with the 8 minute "What Can Be Safely Written", which kicks things off with howling wolves and bombastic, synthesized horns. As soon as the drums kick in, triggered as ever, I quickly realize why I hate this band. Before I know it muffled and buried thrash-inspired riffs chime in and we're off to the races. The vocals are brutal as hell, but the kick drums sound like complete shi
is, as I said, more of the same from Nile. It's fast as shi
t, it has some dweedly-weedly tech parts, some Arabian scales and some weird gong noises and in the end, it's more or less forgettable–hell, there's even a pointless acoustic instrumental thrown in for good measure. Ranging from raspy gutturals to Demilich-like burping, the vocals on Ithyphallic
are the obvious high-point. Its technicality, however, is atrocious; the guitar solos are absolutely laughable (we're talking Kerry King here), the sweep picking at the end of "Language of the Shadows" is pathetic and sloppy and the bass is non-existent. George Kollias lives up to his legacy by playing the drums really fast and repeating the same shi
tty fills over and over. Fans of the band might turn a blind eye to Kollias' lack of style because of the breakneck speed he plays at but more jaded listeners will be quickly spurned by how remarkably mechanical and boring his work behind the kit is.
Throughout the firestorm of breakneck blastbeats Nile attempt to create dynamics and variations by inserting slow and groovy breakdowns along with some pseudo-crushing doom parts. While these bridges add a much needed change in sound, they often drag on for minutes at a time. In many ways, the plodding passages are just as much of a proverbial penis extender as the pompous guitar leads.
I can't say if it's their most technical, nor can I claim it to be their most brutal, but allow me to instantly dispel the notion of it being the epitome of either; while it's certainly relentless, its 'brutality' is apparent to a fault. The album is an exercise in excess, a notion proven when you consider one of the stronger tracks on the album is called "Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve Its Possessor Against Attacks From He Who Is in the Water". That's 17 words if you're counting.
The band makes no effort to differentiate between songs, since they pretty much all start off with buried "tech" riffing and a generic, uninterestingly fast drum fill. The production and mixing on the album is absolutely deplorable, somehow managing to sound over-produced and overtly raw at the same time. The drums, as noted, sound like complete ass
and the guitars are buried beneath them while the vocals weave in and out of prevalence.
These guys are simply going through the motions and whether I like it or not, people are going to eat this up. I could go on with ease, filling this up with boner joke after boner joke but I'll stop before I bore you. Nile, I'd advise you try doing the same on your next album.