Nile - _Ithyphallic_
(Nuclear Blast, 2007)
by: Jackie Smit (
Regardless of how much Nile have proven to be a significant creative shot in the arm for death metal over the course of their fourteen year existence, it was only ever going to be a matter of time before their detractors made themselves heard. The obvious question would be whether Nile's Egyptian and Middle Eastern aesthetics could continue to provide their music with an enduring, exotic quality, or whether it has reached its sell-by date. Similar criticism could of course be levelled at hordes of others in the genre -- from Deicide and their endless odes to the hooved one, to Cannibal Corpse's obsession with all things homicidal. But the fact that Nile's axioms plays itself out in literally every facet of their art, does mean that theirs is a potentially more pronounced conundrum.Of course, until now they've done a spectacular job of insulating themselves against such denunciation, with every record further pushing the envelope either by virtue of songwriting (_In Their Darkened Shrines_) or production values (_Annihilation of the Wicked_). _Ithyphallic_, their fifth full-length, does neither.Perhaps it's the pressure of being on a new label, but here Nile have elected to fortify and defend; playing almost entirely to their strengths and carefully sidestepping anything that could trip them up along the way. Thus we're started off with an almost obligatory acoustic intro in "What Can Be Safely Written", before being blasted by the full-blown paroxysm of "As He Creates So He Destroys" -- a not atypical amalgamation of spine-snapping speed and aural savagery. And lest we get ahead of ourselves and write the band's latest effort off as expendable, Nile does remain a fearsome beast even when they're being conservative. Opening gambit aside, _Ithyphallic_ offers nine devastatingly brutal slabs of prime death metal; technical to the point of being incogitable, and unfailingly engrossing. On "Eat of the Dead" they deliver one of their most atmospheric and epic tunes to date, while the blistering "Even the Gods Must Die" closes the album off on a preeminently flamboyant note.The truth is that on any level, Nile have delivered another solid effort -- even if they aren't exactly showing us anything that they haven't done before. Yet relative to past records, _Ithyphallic_ is more likely to prove satisfying rather than stunning. That said, most other bands would do well to simply come within sniffing distance of the benchmark that Nile has set for themselves, which sums it up really.
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