I’m not a huge fan of the American death metal scene. Often boringly derivative and filled with juvenile, not very scary, gore obsessed lyrics, I’ve always found it unappealing. Nile are like a breath of fresh air. Each of their albums are excellent and this one is no exception.This albums picks up where “Black Seeds of Vengeance” finished, further developing the mixture of non-metal egyptian themed music with brutal high-speed death metal riffing. There’s also more variation here with more moments of slow, crunchy doom syle moments with the song “sarcophogus” worthy of note. The album is strong throughout and never fails to sustain your interest. The compositions are at times insanely complex and take many listens to digest. There’s not much in the way of catchy riffs except in some of the aforementioned slower parts, this is mostly continous high speed thrash. As many people have already mentioned the drumming is mindblowing. The vocals could be better (Sander’s vocals on “In the Beginning” were actually somewhat audible without the use of the lyric sheet) , but don’t really detract from the experience. A shame though, because the lyrics are interesting, far better than the childish gore-obsessed ravings of other bands. Overall, an inspired and refresing slice of high speed death metal.
The Great Stone War is Winds of Plague’s third full-length album. Check out what vocalist Johnny Plague (may not be his real name) has to say about it: ”The idea of The Great Stone War is that civilization as a whole will digress and in time inevitably end with one final battle. This battle will not be fought with technology but with stone. Over the course of eleven tracks the listener hears about a journey foreseen through the eyes of a heathen in a religious world apocalypse. Even in the world’s darkest times you always have to take a step back and see life for what it is and not lose sight of what is most important.”
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I can’t believe it. I picked this up on wednesday, and I can’t stop listening to it. I saw them live a couple weeks back when the played an LA show and the new material was great. Due to the “liveness” of the show it was hard to really rate how good the new stuff was, but upon purchasing this album it confirmed the acclaimed technicality, brutality, and moreover originality of the Nile I know and love. This CD is more than just the Nile you know and love, though. Its an hour long death metal masterpiece that integrates their old Nephren-Ka styles with amazing new progressive sounds. Their “other” guitarist, Dallas Toler-Wade, writes many songs and lyrics on this CD which makes this album more diverse and interesting from the start. Karl Sanders’ patented “Egyptian death metal” definately has evolved and inspired him to spawn new amazing works such as the 12 minute long “Unas, Slayer Of The Gods”, which combines the Nephren-Ka chunkiness and heaviness with the Black Seeds progressiveness. Songs such as “Sarcophagus” revisit Nile’s old Festivals Of Atonement style, and new material such as “Invocation To Seditious Heresy” take extreme metal into the heavens (or hells!).The CD is amazing. Its probably one of the most complex and highly evolved metal releases ever. The musicians are true masters of their instruments and lyrical knowledge that they command. Bottom line:Strong points – Sander’s amazing new songs, Increased productivity from 2nd guitarist Dallas Toler-Wade, new drummer that is UNHOLY, the CD case and booklet are really “gourmet”Weaknesses – NONE
Coming off the masterful “Black Seeds of Vengeance,” Nile have returned with another ambitious project. “In Their Darkened Shrines” again showcases the unbridled creativity and awe-inspiring technicality that make Nile such a unique and excellent band. With their innovative dynamics and heavy use of Egyptian themes, Nile have managed to bring something extremely valuable to death metal: a fresh sound. Their lyrics often read more like they were written by a bunch of history majors than by a killer death metal band, but Nile are dead serious when it comes to creating crushingly heavy music. I’ll admit a was a little nervous when I read about the departure of two members of the “Black Seeds of Vengeance” lineup, most notably massively skilled drummer Pete Hammoura. However, I was relieved to find that new skinsman Tony Laureano does an excellent job of filling his predecessor’s kit. Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay to Tony is that if I didn’t know better I’d swear Pete hadn’t left. He manages to match Pete fill for fill and blastbeat for blastbeat, and that’s no small task. And Karl Sanders and Dallas Toler-Wade are once again rock-solid on guitars. Although the first four songs on “In Their Darkened Shrines” are all strong, the album really kicks into high gear with the almost-indescribable “Unas, Slayer of the Gods.” Nile had shown somewhat of an inclination toward epic songwriting on “BSOV,” and that tendency culminates with “Unas.” At more than eleven and a half bruising minutes, the song is chock full of tempo changes, stunning musical interludes, and the band’s trademark Egyptian/Middle-Eastern elements. The lyrics, meanwhile, tell a frightening tale of an Egyptian Pharaoh’s legend in Nile’s typically foreboding style. It’s just an amazing song, one of the best in death-metal history.Although I chose to single out “Unas, Slayer of the Gods,” it’s important to note that every song on “In Their Darkened Shrines” is solid at the very least. Some may take a little time to get going, but this isn’t supposed to be easy listening. With some patience and attention, the payoff will come, and when it does it’s more than worth the wait. I’m trying to be really careful with my five-star ratings, but the only reason this album doesn’t get one is that the vocals don’t guite reach the levels attained by the music. Still, “In Their Darkened Shrines” gets my highest four-star rating, and my utmost recommendation for ALL metal fans.
All my reviews of Nile’s previous works are glowing, but I can’t say enough about this album. Taking the best elements of “Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka” and “Black Seeds of Vengence”, Nile has produced what will most definitely be the most creative and best death metal album of 2002 (sorry Suffocation!). They took out a little bit of the overproduction from BSoV and managed to even expand on the intensity presented in ATCoN so that EVERY song from start to finish, whether it was an instrumental piece (of which there are two) or not, is absolutely relentless. They also added, as another reviewer mentioned, some more low end sound so that you can really hear the boom of the bass guitar, especially in songs like “Unas Slayer of the Gods” and “I Whisper in the Ear of the Dead”. Something that has to be pointed out as one of the highlights of the album is the fact that the drumming is so varied. Another reviewer complained of this as though it sounded like the drummer was soloing the whole time, but this honestly adds some fantastic variety to the album. Rather than hearing simple blast beats the entire time, you get a multiplicity of approaches to the drumming in this album, all of which rock. This is especially present in (once again) “Unas Slayer of the Gods” and “Winds of Horus”. “Winds of Horus” has some of the fastest drumming I’ve ever heard on an album (easily competing with the likes of Dave Lombardo, Gene Hoglan, Pete Sandoval and even Nick Barker of Dimmu Borgir, ex-Cradle of Filth fame), and it is also worth mentioning that on this particular song it is good to see that the guitars make plenty of use of the higher strings when implementing the Egyptian chord structures for that scale. A very nice touch. Song four, “Kheftiu Asar Butchiu” also includes a number of groove driven sections similar to the likes of maybe Carnal Forge. The vocals are also especially great on all the songs since each member contributes to the vocal duties, and it is obvious that each member has a bit of a different approach to the vocals adding even more variety along with the aforementioned drumming.Also, “Unas Slayer of the Gods” will definitely remain as one of the best death metal songs of all time, considering it has elements of everything whether it’s amazing blast beats, technical riffing, or great melody during the slower parts of the song. Simply the fact that this song is roughly a 12 minute opus of death metal ecstasy should garner this song praise and raise a few eyebrows in the process. The two instrumental pieces, “Hall of Saurian Entombment” and “Ruins”, also help add great atmosphere to this album without being overly produced or boring. One more thing to point out is that a few influences are very obvious on this album, most notably the Morbid Angel riffing styles present in songs like “I Whisper in the Ear of the Dead” which is very reminiscent of the doomy Morbid Angel song “Summoning Redemption” off the “Gateways to Annihilation” album. All things considered, this album is one of the most worthy efforts produced in the death metal scene for a while, and anyone who enjoys the genre should not hesitate in at least checking out some samples of this disc if not buying it right away.Easily the most creative death metal album of the year.
I haven’t been this fascinated by a [rock/metal] band since I first managed to reach beneath the “Prog Nu Metal’ facade of Tool. As is common with the greatest music, it’s impossible to find adequate vocabulary or points of reference to describe this album. But I desperately want to spread the word about this band’s magic, so I must give it a shot.If I must compare Nile’s music to that of any other band, I would have to say that I am simultaneously or alternately reminded of the stampeding forward motion of [latter day] Morbid Angel, the precise rhythmic frenzies of Dillinger Escape Plan, the mind-numbing grind of Meshuggah, the doominess of Black Sabbath at its darkest, and the intoxicating sense of artistic purpose of Tool. But don’t mistake these vague associations for obvious derivations. Very few artists I’ve heard have the broad originality of Nile. The music is obsessively focused, but full of dynamic vitality. Its pace varies fluidly from ultra-fast to slow. It is very dense, yet thoroughly detailed – a characteristic marvelously enhanced by the superb balance between a ‘wall of sound’ effect and crystalline separation achieved in the sound engineering. Most of the pieces are highly intricate, with elaborate structures and arrangements, yet sound incredibly organic, brutal and evocative. The overall sound is very weighty, but with a razor-sharp edge. The general atmosphere created is quite eerie, in an epic, cinematic way. The basic instrumentation consists of percussion (Tony Laureano), two guitars (Karl Sanders and Dallas Toler-Wade), and bass guitar played by the two guitarists. The drumming is mind-bogglingly demonic, the guitar riffing carves both giant stones and diamonds seamlessly, while the melodically complex leads creep up from behind to take you for races and cruises to and through the stratosphere. Everybody plays mercilessly, but with a great degree of finesse. Middle-eastern melodic sensibilities and instruments are used very tastefully to evoke dark images of ancient Egypt. The orchestrated vocals, led by Sanders and additional vocalist Jon Vesano, with contributions by Wade and Laureano, are predominantly of the deep guttural variety and as such are crucial to the band’s enticingly grotesque aesthetic. Anybody who says “I like the music but it would be better without the growling” is missing the point, and anybody who highlights the vocals to criticize the band for being “non-musical” (translation: not conventionally melodic) or “not for everyone” has misperceived a core virtue as a vice. Listening to the music is enough to tell you that these guys are extremely dedicated, but if you need more convincing check out the fine liner notes by Sanders explaining the disturbing events and myths of ancient Egypt that inspired each song, and often touching on how he relates them to his perceptions of modern life and society.When I first sampled this in a CD store it took me about a minute to decide that it was too overloaded with dissonance. When I came back home I couldn’t stop thinking about what I heard and didn’t hear, so I took two hours out of a weekend just to go back and buy it. After one dedicated listening session I was in awe of its grandeur. After the second spin I was hooked. Every subsequent spin has brought increased clarity and revealed new nuances.If you are interested in exploring the outer limits of musical imagination and intensity, ‘In Their Darkened Shrines’ is one meticulously crafted work of devastating art that you must not miss. After this, you also must buy its comparably monumental predecessor, ‘Black Seeds of Vengeance,’ while I check out ‘In The Beginning’ and ‘Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka.’ That’s presuming you are further behind than I am, of course.