Nile
Annihilation of the Wicked

C’mon people. DO you REALLY need me to review this? What are you expecting? Trip hop? Cyber metal? Classical music? This is a Nile album fer chrissakes, and that alone will essentially dictate whether you buy this or not based on your opinion of the last three albums. My only dilemma is dressing up this review of what is essentially a singularly themed take on death metal enough to please the fan boys or to diss it as it currently the trend.

So album number four from Saunders and his cronies, now with Greek drummer George Kollias (Nightfall) attempting to fill the considerable shoes of Derek Roddy, Pete Hammoura, and Tony Laureano, and boy does he. The question for most Nile fans won’t be whether they get this album, I’m sure most already own it; the question is how does it stack up to the prior albums? Pretty well, like I said earlier what are you expecting? This is ferocious, often brilliant shredding death metal with Egyptian overtones, so in that aspect it essentially follows the exact same template of the prior three albums, and it all honestly is interchangeable with anything preceding it.  There’s the usual injections of haunting, otherworldly instrumentation (“Dusk Falls Upon the Temple of the Serpent on the Mount of Sunrise”, “Spawn of Uamenti”), some wrist mangling blasters (“Cast Down the Heretic”, “The Burning Pits of the Duat”) and some epic, doomy dirges (“User-Maat-Re”, “Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten”) so it touches all of the expected Nile bases with talent and skill aplomb.

I won’t bore you with song by song descriptions as if you own any Nile album, you know the score by now. The thing is with the album, despite it’s at time vast savagery and deft levels of complexity, its missing ‘something’. That something isn’t speed as tracks like the aforementioned “Cast Down the Heretic”, “Sacrifice Unto Sebek”, “The Burning Pits of the Duat” and “Lashed to the Slave Stick” are arguably Nile’s most brutally concise, direct and possibly “Egypt” free tracks, it’s the longer epic songs that don’t click for me. “User-Maat-Re”, “Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten” and the title track try everso hard to recreate the sweeping majesty of the likes of ‘To Dream of Ur” and “Unas, Slayer of the Gods”, but just don’t imbue the same mix and dread and undulating grandeur. Still, don’t let that detract you Nile fans, the fast songs pretty much make this album a way above average death metal.

The now experienced Neil Kernon (Cannibal Corpse, Deicide), fills out Nile’s sound better than their prior albums with everything being less muddier than before and it seems to favor the slightly less forceful Egyptian elements (there’s no extended monkish chants). Of course lyrically there’s no surprises from the pen of Mr. Sanders who displays his painstaking research in the subject matter for each song (even using actual wav files of various Crocodile calls and roars for “Spawn of Uamenti”), but it’s rather ineffectual considering the three way vocal attack of Sanders, Jon Vesano, and Dallas Tyler Wode is a virtual grunt fest. Wode is now fully involved on the song writing, possibly explaining the slightly less gregarious ethnic elements that are now more intertwined in the longs rather than needless filler (“Chapter of Obeisance Before Giving Breath to the Inert One in the Prese” and the Lovecraftian lore inspired “Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten” or “Of Nameless Cults”).

Ultimately Annihilation of the Wicked is a damned good album, and will no doubt garner much well deserved year end credit, as skill wise and song writing wise, Nile appear to be the US’s cream of the crop. However, I can’t flag that ‘running in place feeling’ that Nile has painted themselves into a stylistic corner (by choice obviously). How many brutal Egyptian themed death metal albums can you make before its starts to get a little ‘samey’ and predictable (“Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten” vs. “Unas, Slayer of the Gods”)?  My opinion? Four.

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Written by E. Thomas
March 17th, 2005

Comments

  1. Commented by: fightingmike

    I like this record second after “Black Seeds of Vengence”, but the recording here is clearer and the music on here is just rediculous!


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