Nile, tech-death maestros, purveyors of Ancient Egyptian-themed metal and unnecessarily over-descriptive song titles are back with their seventh studio album, 'At the Gate of Sethu'. And it's business as usual for the American death stalwarts as they once again exercise their up- and down-tempo extreme metal aesthetic within the confines of some ludicrously titled tracks. This time around, ridiculous song title highlights are most definitely 'The Fiends Who Come to Steal the Magick of the Deceased', 'The Gods Who Light Up the Sky at the Gate of Sethu' and 'Natural Liberation of Fear Through the Ritual Deception of Death'...although would a Nile album be a Nile album without an element of the ostentatious?
On a record that has a sound biased towards high and mid-frequencies with little resonance at the bottom end, it still sounds surprisingly hard--hitting. Also, it's not been over-produced so while the production and mix have enough clarity for each of the instruments to be heard clearly and, more importantly, an intensity where they combine during the more up-tempo passages, there's still organic, grimy death sonics that bind the whole thing together. The drums, in particular, have a nice acoustic sound to them rather than Pro Tools enhanced triggers. If I'm entirely incorrect and triggers have been used here then aural integrity has been cleverly maintained in capturing and conveying the sound of George Kollias' kit.
Guitar riffs rasp and bite their way through the mix over alternately up-tempo and down-tempo passages with unsettling menace and flavoured with an idiomatic use of Eastern sonics. But nothing less would be expected from Nile, pioneers of the widespread deployment of (although some might say overuse of) Phrygian and Mixolydian modes within the death realm. Modal familiarity can always be forgiven in Nile's case, and 'At the Gate of Sethu' is no exception, as they still manage to maintain compositional variation between each of the tracks.
Expect yet more Ancient Egyptology, technically accomplished musicianship, breathtakingly incise riffing, guttural and gurgled death growls...oh, and guest vocals from one of the band's former bassist/vocalists, Jon Vesano, then you won't be disappointed by 'At the Gate of Sethu'. Expect any kind of progression in Nile's sound and/or aesthetic (save for some of the up-tempo passages that might just be that little bit speedier than ever before) then you'll find little to get excited about. Reassuringly, though, Nile are still Nile and remain at the top of their game with another solid album to add to their canon.
AT THE GATE OF SETHU
Review by Mark Holmes
29th June 2012
1) Enduring The Eternal Molestation Of Flame; 2) The Fiends Who Come To Steal The Magick Of The Deceased; 3) The Inevitable Degradation Of Flesh; 4) When My Wrath Is Done; 5) Slaves Of Xul; 6) The Gods Who Light Up The Sky At The Gate Of Sethu; 7) The Gods Who Light Up The Sky At The Gate Of Sethu; 8) Ethno-Musicological Cannibalisms; 9) Tribunal Of The Dead; 10) Supreme Humanism Of Megalomania; 11) The Chaining Of The Iniquitous
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"Reassuringly...Nile are still Nile and remain at the top of their game with another solid album to add to their canon."