Friday, May 25, 2007

I Hath Dreamed Bleak And Grim

Nile – Annihilation of the Wicked

Nile are an American brutal death metal band much in the vein of Suffocation, who you may recall as being my band of the month back near the beginning of the year. I prefer Suffocation in many ways, their songs are just a bit heavier, a lot more fun and the songwriting is more interesting and catchy by virtue of their not being restricted by a somewhat cumbersome gimmick, which I shall get to in a paragraph or two.

Like any decent death metal band these guys are astonishing musicians. The guitarists didn't quite blow me away to the degree that Terrance from Suffocation did, but the vocals are outstanding. Incredibly deep and guttural while maintaining definition and control. Sometimes you can almost understand what he's saying! Their drummer, George Kollias, is a bit of a legend, and this album contains some of the fastest death metal drumming ever committed to record. During 'Sacrifice To Sebek' his double kicks reach a peak of 265bpm. Rumour on the internets has it that studio trickery was used to achieve it, but even if we don't count that particular track there are plenty of other points on Annihilation of the Wicked when he is almost that fast.

As for the aforementioned gimmick, these guys are about all things ancient Egyptian. A flick through the CD booklet reveals, alongside each songs lyrics, a brief Egyptology lesson, explaining the social, historical or religious aspect of ancient Egyptian life that inspired the song. For example, the brutal tortures inflicted on wayward slaves, the deposition and execution of a megalomaniacal pharoah or the unbelievably horrific countenance of the malevolent god Set.

This is all well and good, but the conceit stretches to the music as well. Their super fast, intense death metal is overlaid with traditional middle eastern musical figures, and unlike with Secret Chiefs 3, who seamlessly blend traditional and rock music, the Egyptian styled riffs often feel awkwardly imposed over the heavier music.

The brutal music underneath is still pretty fucking good mind you. Even if it's not quite at the level of Suffocation, the thunderously awesome main riff of the title track approaches my conception of the platonic ideal of a death metal riff. I also appreciated the scattered acoustic interludes throughout the album, which use traditional instruments such as bazouki. They differ from Secret Chiefs 3's work in that while they are traditionally instrumented songs, they still carry a metal mood which is very well done.

Good album, but not as good as their cool Egyptian conceit.

No comments: