Review Summary: "Those Whom the Gods Detest may replace In Their Darkened Shrines as the indispensable Nile album"
In the genre of musical defilement, called technical death metal, standing out in any way is already an achievement in itself. Band after band shows up on stage to impress the crowd with their massive amount of musical knowledge and supposed brutality but ultimately fail. Sure, they can scream like banshees and keep the beat at the same time, but they fail to realize that being loud isn’t what makes a band unique. These bands rely on their ability to play as fast and as loud as possible; so much so that any sense of identity is lost in translation. With every band claiming to have the heaviest metal ever, the claims cancel each other out. Then again, that was before Those Whom the Gods Detest was released.
The first noticeable difference between Those Whom the Gods Detest and Nile’s past releases is the sound quality. Finally, The guitars do not sound like a two-year old trying to play the electric violin. As a result from the revamped sound quality, guitar notes and chords are easier to decipher, and the band sounds crystal clear. The most exciting news out of this, perhaps, is that the drums sound less like audible rape, and more like an actual drum set. While this is a cause for celebration, Nile has improved in so many other areas that the original celebration seems like a bonus prize found in a cereal box.
Karl Sanders’ (the lead vocalist and guitarist) solo albums has apparently changed the entire band. In ‘Kafir’, a vocalist that sounds as if he was snatched from Ancient Egypt, gives the starting track an atmosphere similar to Orphaned Land. Actual melody in a Nile album is a shock and could disturb hard-core technical death metal fans, but the end result is a refreshing, authentic experience. Instead of overly bombastic synthesized horns (as heard in ‘What Can Be Safely Written’ from their former album Ithyphallic) Nile’s Egyptian inspiration is used to create a dark atmosphere. ‘4th Arra of Dagon’ perfectly defines the album’s mood: the feeling that someone else is in the room.
In Those Whom The Gods Detest, hapless victims are dragged deep into the catacombs of Nile where sheer terror awaits. With Egyptian instruments, chanting, and chord progressions being fully realized (and integrated) for the first time, Nile has created a mood shift. The guitars have never been heavier, as heard in ‘4th Arra of Dagon’: a dark, intense, 8:40 piece, with a slower tempo, skull-crushing guitars and pummeling drums. The never-ending, punishing guitars are not only brutally heavy, but they remind the listener that ‘4th Arra of Dagon’ isn’t the only song to show Nile’s massive improvements. In Nile’s former album, guitar and speed experimentation took place but often failed because the guitars sounded like garbled vomit. Now, Nile isn’t only relying on speed to shock the listener into submission. Nile can still stimulate (without using ridiculous speeds) the terror that the lost souls of Ancient Egypt are rising again.
There is no doubt that a dark cloud of despair surrounds Those Whom the Gods Detest. Despite the ever-present doom, Nile has not demolished the senseless face-melting riffs and almost pointlessly speedy blastbeats that they are known for. ‘Permitting the Noble Dead to Descend to the Underworld’ and ‘The Eye of Ra’, for example, blatantly showcase Nile’s ability to induce seizures. While such an ability is quite impressive, it is nothing compared to the title track which stands out as a testament to anything Nile has ever created; appropriate Egyptian atmospherics mixed with slowed speeds, and brutal technical speeds results in a delicious cocktail that cannot be repeated due to its complicated recipe. Although some may claim that Annihilation of the Wicked has the most eye-popping riffs ever recorded, the facts are too hard to ignore. Those Whom the Gods Detest boosts Nile to the pinnacle of their career and as a result puts them on the top of the technical death metal crowd. Those Whom the Gods Detest may replace In Their Darkened Shrines as the indispensable Nile album, and for good reason. Pretty soon, you might catch yourself grunting, “Arra, arra, arra. Dagon, Dagon, Dagon”.
- All of them.