NILE - "IN THEIR DARKENED SHRINES" (RELAPSE)
I really like Nile. There's not much else I can say about them. With their Egyptian-sounding death metal they have carved out an interesting niche, and I basically like the particular rhythms and riffs they use. It started off with "Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka" (1998), after which came "Black Seeds of Vengeance" (2000). I liked both albums, however it seemed they had gone a bit over the top with the Egyptian chanting and stuff on "Black Seeds". As far as I was concerned, it didn't strengthen the album. Their third full length effort, "In Their Darkened Shrines", only contains two such tracks, "Hall of Saurian Entombment" and the ominous-sounding "I Whisper in the Ear of the Dead". Other than that it's a collection of ominously excellent death metal epics that, together, form their crowning achievement so far. Production seems a bit better, compositions have grown more complex and crazy, Tony Laureano's drumming is almost surreal, and the old Nile atmosphere is still there.
I would have thought that a third album of Egypt-suffused metal would grow tiresome, however quite the opposite happened. This album contains classic upon classic. It is very, very heavy, kicking off with the corker of an opener, "The Blessed Dead". It's one of those songs that, played on a Discman on your way to work, will give you energy to last until the end of the day. Not that "Execration Text", the track that follows, is any less! "Sarcophagus" is pretty melodic, and "Ruins" is a very memorable track reminiscent of Bolt Thrower (only sounding rather more Egyptian, obviously :-).
Nile have gone from strength to strength, and it will be interesting to see what happens with their fourth album. With this one, however, they deserve the full five bullet rating.
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Written November 2002
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