Nile - _Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren Ka_
by: Paul Schwarz (
This is undoubtedly one of the most brutal and uncompromising death metal releases I have ever heard. It is also much more than just a brutal and uncompromising death metal release (which Pyrexia's _System of the Animal_ wasn't -- it should have got an 8 instead of a 9 out of 10 from me as a result). Although beginning with the aural evisceration of "Smashing the Antiu" and following suit with the similarly monstrous "Barra Edinazzu", _ATCONK_ has so much more to offer than simply sheer brutality. The third 'intro' track captures the sounds of Egypt first hand with traditional sounding instrumentation. Along with utilising this a few more times, Nile also incorporate Egyptian musical patterns into their distorted death metal playing. The other thing which came to astound me about this release was its ability to mix fast and slow, as well as mysterious and brutal. Although the first few tracks involve speed and technicality which would make most bands, except maybe Cryptopsy, wince, "Stones of Sorrow" tackles a totally different angle, erring between mid-paced and slow progressions and a very pronounced gradual lead part which finishes off the song excellently. As if all this wasn't enough, "Die Rache Krieg Lied der Assyriche" provides us with a tribal infused chant to invoke the gods which is so well executed it doesn't amuse, as so many of these "invocations" tend to, but astounds. In just 33 minutes, Nile satisfy on so many levels. They produce some of the most extreme and brilliantly constructed death metal around and mix it with the atmosphere of Egyptian music, the emotion of adrenaline fuelled screams of aggression, the calming tones of the acoustic guitar and the disturbing atmosphere of tribal chanting. In a year that wasn't looking so good for death metal, Nile would be like a blinding light in total dark; as it is, they are one of the most radiant and compelling of a number of beacons floating on top of a sea of mediocrity. If you miss this, you have my condolences; but don't say I didn't warn you.
(article published 8/7/1998)
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