Those Whom Twats Detest
Nile albums generally transcend any predetermined preconceptions of what a listening experience is, instead crafting huge sonic landscapes that whisk you back 5000 years to the banks of the river from which they take their name, so that you can almost feel the Egyptian sun scorching your back, as some slave driver whips you harder to construct the Sphinx’s giant stone phallus (this may or may not exist outside of my mind). Luckily for us, Nile do not have magical time travelling powers or, to my knowledge, whips, and instead settle for scorching and lashing your face with their enormous metaphorical phallus of death metal on this, their sixth, album.
I must say it is very nice of Nile to pop up every couple of years to remind everyone that incredibly brutal death metal can be something other than lobotomised, gore-fixated fuckbaggery, and it is testament to their compositional ability that this album manages to be as technical as anything that will be released this year without ever seeming like you’re listening to ‘tech’ music. The sweeps are subtly applied, the riffs are complex yet memorable and the drumming is restrained, intelligently textured and, when it needs to be, fast enough to leave pretty much everyone else in the (Saharan) dust. Songs shift to and fro from monolithic slabs of doom to what having a swarm of bees in one ear and an artillery range in the other sounds like, all topped off with that trademark glaze of eastern instruments, huge string bends and unsettling droning notes from Sanders’ fretless guitar.
The issue of trademark sound is an interesting one, however, as I have noticed something of a backlash towards Nile of late for being ‘formulaic’ and ‘one-dimensional’. Now, I would usually be the first to give a band a kicking for this (see my previous review), but in their case it is more that they have created such a strong niche with their imagery and instrumentation that even their most experimental work sounds ‘like Nile’. Similarly, this phenomenon has never stopped me from buying a new Iron Maiden or Opeth album, as they are all free to develop within their own unique paradigm rather than stuck in a one dimensional rut.
This development is shown not least in the *gasp* non-Egyptian related opener ‘Kafir!’, which tackles the rejection of God in a more general sense, inspired by a race of people that lived in what is now Afghanistan and Pakistan and were seen as infidels by the Islamic countries that surrounded them. I know this because… Karl Sanders’ liner notes have returned! And the ‘Kafir!’ notes even give a shout out to Exodus!
Elsewhere, the title track is an 8 minute titan that only Nile are really able to pull off, and the total fucking madness of ‘Kem Khefa Kheshef’ is a mindblowing example of how to craft a death metal song… My discussing individual tracks is a waste of time though, as if you’re not willing to listen to the whole shebang (while reading the liner notes) you can get the fuck out of town or die.