Album Title: Vile Nilotic Rites
Label: Nuclear Blast
Date of Release: 1 November 2019
In my formative teenage years, I always thought death metal was incredibly boring; to the uninitiated, it sounded like a huge cacophony of brutal noises with, if I’m honest, a lack of variety and anything approaching a memorable melody. Fast forward to 2019 and it turns out that I was right; death metal is a cacophony of brutal noises. At least, in the hands of Nile, it certainly is.
I’ve discovered over the years that death metal is not at all boring; there are some extremely boring bands within the genre but, when done well, it can be incredible. Again, that’s where Nile come in.
In my final year at university, I discovered ‘Black Seeds Of Vengeance’. At the beginning, I liked it because it was a sure-fire way to annoy my neighbours and my housemates. But as I digested the album, I realised that the music scratched an itch that had lain dormant and unnoticed for a number of years. The sheer brutality, the freneticism, the unbridled malevolence of the Ancient Egypt-obsessed US death metal juggernaut was infectious and it opened a whole new avenue of exploration into my twenties.
The only thing is, as good and as uncompromising as Nile are, my attention eventually waned. Many people think of ‘Those Whom The Gods Detest’ as the high water mark for the band. For me, as good as that album undoubtedly is, there remains a certain magic about that sophomore release, ‘Black Seeds of Vengeance’, that means it might always be my favourite.
This is all important information because it sets the foundations for this review, providing context as to my mindset when approaching it. Could album number nine be the record that finally tops their millennial offering?
After much listening, I have to declare that…no, it isn’t.
However, don’t let this revelation burst your bubble. It might not top what might be one of my all-time favourite extreme metal records but it is nevertheless a damn fine release and once again demonstrates the undeniable talent that Nile possess.
This is all the more impressive when you consider that founding member and guitarist/vocalist Karl Sanders has had to deal with some significant personnel changes. Long-term drummer George Kollias remains but veteran guitarist Dallas Toler-Wade has departed, also leaving a gap in the bass position, having taken on four-string duties after a procession of bassists came and went with alarming regularity. So in have come guitarist Brian Kingsland and bassist Brad Parris, both of whom contribute vocals as well.
The overriding feeling I have with ‘Vile Nilotic Rites’ is that, after a couple of records that suggested the quartet might be running on autopilot, Nile have reignited their enthusiasm and have found a new lease of energy. Or, to put it another way, the fire is back in their collective bellies and the bite, snarl and venom that so typified earlier records have returned. Once again, Nile are delivering their brutal cacophony again.
From the eerie intro and explosion of sound that signals the opening of the album via ‘Long Shadows Of Dread’, I immediately perceived a different feel to ‘Vile Nilotic Rites’ from many of its predecessors. The opener is a heady blend of mid-tempo stomp and breakneck speed, led by the trademark riffing of Sanders and the almost inhuman and relentless machinegun battery of Kollias – the drummer never ceases to amaze me with his insane abilities and this album is no different.
With their obsession of Ancient Egypt, Nile’s music has always had an otherworldly quality to it but ‘Vile Nilotic Rites’ is arguably even more epic and cinematic in places. The three vocalists provide a little variety to the diatribes spat at the listener, but the authentic instrumentation that is woven into many of the compositions, alongside the sound of evil tolling bells and film score-like interludes turn what could have been a run-of-the-mill death metal assault into one that keeps my attention throughout.
‘Seven Horns Of War’ is arguably the most ambitious track on the record as well as being the longest. It’s a little on the pompous and preposterous side at times particularly with the vaguely incongruous spoken-word passage in the middle. But overall, with its Lord of the Rings-esque overtones, it’s one hell of a death metal track that again manages to change pace effortlessly.
Almost as grandiose is closer, ‘We Are Cursed’, that slithers to a conclusion via plenty of overblown histrionics.
My favourite track, however, has to be ‘The Imperishable Stars Are Sickened’. I love the gentle strings that breathe life into the song, before some of the chunkiest riffs this side of Chunkytown assault the senses, alongside yet more bruising and punishing drumming, tortured vocals and an overall sense of foreboding and malevolence.
If you are already a fan of Nile but felt a bit jaded and let down after the past few releases, prepare to rejoice, because ‘Vile Nilotic Rites’ sees Nile back towards the very top of their game. It’s not their very best, but then, when you have such killer releases in your discography as ‘Black Seeds Of Vengeance’ or ‘Those Whom The Gods Detest’, that was always going to be a tough ask.
The Score of Much Metal: 83%
If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others from 2019:
Ray Alder – What The Water Wants
Borknagar – True North
Leprous – Pitfalls
Myrath – Shehili
Prehistoric Animals – Consider It A Work Of Art
Voyager – Colours In The Sun
Odd Logic – Last Watch Of The Nightingale
Avandra – Descender
Darkwater – Human
ZW Band / Zonder Wehrkamp – If It’s Real
Teramaze – Are We Soldiers
Rendezvous Point – Universal Chaos
Our Destiny – Awakening
Evergrey – The Atlantic
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: