Overall Score: 8.5/10 Performances: 8.5/10 Songwriting: 8.5/10 Lyrics: 8.5/10 Pros: Superbly performed technical death metal | Eloquent lyrics that weave metaphor and simile sublimely Cons: Nothing
Few bands command the level of respect that Nile have earned themselves. In the twenty-six years they have been an active outfit, they have pretty much consistently produced the highest quality technical death metal, and stood out from much of the crowd. The number of outfits that cite them as an influence is staggering, and their reverence is set to be cemented with their ninth studio album, Vile Niltoic Rites.
‘The strong will ultimately survive. The weak will fall by the wayside. Nile has a new ethos; we’re not going to live in the past’. The words of Karl Sanders do inform the sonic devastation that is Vile Niltoic Rites, as with vibrancy and immediacy the album grabs you in a distinctly metallic chokehold. Long Shadows of Dread, the opening track, begins with ominous ambience and threatening strings before exploding into a torrent of violent apoplexy. The song showcases the technical prowess with which the band have made their name, but equally displays a nous for songwriting that can often become an afterthought in the craft of tech music.
The band explain that anything ancillary was removed in the creation of their ninth opus. This translates into lean, muscular songs that do not deviate from their singular purpose; to exude aggression and batter the listener. Oxford Handbook of Savage Genocidal Warfare is as ridiculously morose and gory as the title implies. Just a hair over three minutes, it is a relentless assault of intricate riffing, time signature and mood changes and truncated breakdowns that rival Pantera’s Domination for impact.
The byzantine riffs and solos across the album give that distinctly Nile flavour – particularly the introduction to That Which Is Forbidden. Long-time fans of the band will be overjoyed to find that Sanders et al have not strayed away from their signature sound, nor their typical lyrical content. The narrative mostly focuses on Sanders’ love of Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Levantine history, save for Thus Sayeth the Parasites of the Mind – a song about zombie ants. You may fear that Nile’s historical flair is old hat by this time, but there is a depth of wit to the often-tongue-in-cheek storytelling. More often than not, the lyrics are metaphors and similes for the similarly ruinous times we live in. The end of empires reflected in contemporary society.
The mammoth Seven Horns of War – the longest song on the record – is a glorious show of everything that makes Nile a band worthy of their reverence. It isn’t unique within the album as every song displays the band’s ability to craft intricate and intelligent music with a dark heart, but it stands out as particularly ambitious. To take myriad musical movements and segue the ideas to the point of perfection shows a band on the brink of the orchestral – not least because of the song’s clean break in the mid-section. The brass accompaniment brings and apocalyptic air to the work and lends credence to Nile’s majesty.
This record is a meticulously put together wonder. Exhausting because of its intensity but interesting due to its musical deviations from the norm, it is a challenging experience, though one deserving of perseverance. The hyper sonic, staccato playing on Snake Pit Mating Frenzy is delightfully heavy and will please any fan of brutality in music. There’s barely a wasted second on this record, and it will stand in the upper echelons of Nile’s back catalogue, at least from a critical perspective. The important thing however is that this will please Nile’s devoted fanbase. At fifty-four minutes and fifty-four seconds long, everything the album has to offer was worth the wait. In four years, Nile have crafted a thing of extremity that borderlines on the beautiful.
The new Nile album, Vile Nilotic Rites is out 1st November 2019 via Nuclear Blast Records