Album Review: Nile – At The Gate Of Sethu
Seven albums in and nearly fifteen years since their debut full-length release, American death metallerscontinue their successful mission to establish themselves as an unconquerable institution within their genre. Five years since their first trough, and a shallow one at that in Ithyphallic, after a career of peaks, the Egyptological four-piece present , and once again stun the metal community and its press, thanks not only to the song titles that are godsend to anyone writing to a word limit, but also because of their equally absurd levels of talent.
Right out of the gate, the opening duo of ‘Enduring the Eternal Molestation of Flame’ and ‘The Fiends Who Come to Steal the Magick of the Deceased’ are trademark cuts of classic Nile. Rapid-fire verses that are almost disorientating to keep pace with thunder forth from the speakers, before a sharp wrench of the handbrake introduces towering, slower mid-sections that conjure and condense the vastness of the Sahara, mercifully granting the listener a precious few seconds of mercy.
Unlike previous Nile records, greater care has been taken with vocals, a priority particularly noticed on ‘The Inevitable Degradation of Flesh’ and ‘Tribunal of the Dead’. The effect is yet more dynamism and versatility, as well as adding an almost pop-like catchiness to many of the album’s choruses. Hardcore fans can rest assured that there are still all the growls, grunts and barks that they will need, and that the lyrics are as academic as ever, but the way that they are deployed around the other instruments is now much more intelligent and considered than in the past.
Nevertheless, there are some lowlights here, particularly ‘When My Wrath is Done’, which seems to lack any real focus, and appears to be little more a collection of half-decent ideas that were left over at the end of recording. Given the compositional skill that the band possesses, it is disappointing that these ideas could not be woven into the record elsewhere, or abandoned altogether.
By the time that ‘Supreme Humanism of Megalomania’ and ‘The Chaining of the Iniquitous’ arrive to close out the record, any jury will have already reached the inevitable unanimous verdict that is due. The latter is a monstrous, downtempo epic in the vein of Annihilation of the Wicked’s ‘Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten’, and as the final horn sounds out, all that remains is for this record to be wrapped in linen and sealed in a Pharaoh’s tomb to be worshipped for eternity.