Review Summary: A new chemistry
Nile is arguably one of the strongest and most distinctive death metal brands of the past two decades, their concept, style and worship of ancient Egyptian and Middle Eastern culture, catapulted the band into a niche of their own. Nile's aesthetics, combining personalized technique and aggressiveness with mystical atmospheres and Middle Eastern folklore, is one of the original products that emerged from the extreme metal scene in the new millennium, therefore worthy of my respect and admiration for some years now, and even suspecting the band is unlikely to release another truly relevant work after Those Whom the Gods Detest
, it’s always with curiosity and some excitement that I welcome a new chapter from these American Egyptologists.
One of the main points of interest in Nile's ninth album would be how the band would react to Dallas Toler-Wade's departure, a permanent member since Black Seeds of Vengeance
and co-responsible for the band's distinctive vocals, namely the most expressive and dynamic sections. Even though Karl Sanders was always the man behind the wheel, I never underestimated Dallas's contribution to the band's formula, considering it a crucial element of the equation, an asset that strengthened Karl's concept. His absence is immediately noticeable in the opener "Long Shadows of Dread", which despite retaining Nile's usual signature, doesn't offer the expressiveness or vocal dynamics the band has always accustomed us to. This greater unidimensionality is a constant in Vile Nilotic Rites
, but by no means erases the good moments the album offers, such as the epic "Seven Horns of War", that includes a rather unexpected theatrical narrative, or the organic "Where is the Wrathful Sky", whose dynamics, contrasts and Middle Eastern signatures deserve to be emphasized. If "The Oxford Handbook of Savage Genocidal Warfare" or "Snake Pit Mating Frenzy" keep the frantic edge very much alive, it's the contagious title track that takes the lead in Vile Nilotic Rites
, being its fluidity and self-restraint among the best moments the band has recorded this decade. As expected, the individual performances are spotless, from the irreverent and highly personalized rhythmic guitar, down to Kollias' always impressive drumming, everything's in sync and thought out down to the tiniest detail, and if it weren't for the uncharismatic vocals, Vile Nilotic Rites
, could easily be a fully successful release.
The new post-Dallas Toler-Wade chapter retains Nile's original formula, while presenting some expected mutations. It's the beginning of a new era for a band trying to find a new chemistry with different characters, and even if this renewed script isn't always to my liking, I hope Karl & Co will keep purging nilotic rites for a very long time.