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4.00 | 30 ratings | 6 reviews
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Album · 1998

Filed under Brutal Death Metal


1. Smashing the Antiu (2:18)
2. Barra Edinazzu (2:47)
3. Kudurru Maqlu (1:05)
4. Serpent Headed Mask (2:18)
5. Ramses Bringer of War (4:45)
6. Stones of Sorrow (4:17)
7. Die Rache Krieg Lied der Assyriche (3:13)
8. The Howling of the Jinn (2:34)
9. Pestilence and Iniquity (1:54)
10. Opening of the Mouth (3:39)
11. Beneath Eternal Oceans of Sand (4:17)

Total Time: 33:11


- Karl Sanders / Vocals, Guitar
- Chief Spires / Vocals, Bass
- Pete Hammoura / Drums, Vocals

About this release

Label: Relapse Records
Release date: April 28th, 1998

Thanks to Vehemency, theheavymetalcat for the updates


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siLLy puPPy
It was bound to happen eventually. When Iron Maiden released their landmark album “Powerslave” in 1984, it not only displayed a classic metal band in full form in the midst of their long creative peak that would span the rest of the decade but it also sowed the seeds that fertile imaginations could take several steps further. In other words, “Powerslave’s” album cover imagery insinuated a fully developed concept album about the world of ancient Egypt and the mythology and power structures that enabled it to endure for centuries, however in reality the album was a collection of unrelated tracks ranging from military airplane maneuvers to medieval sword fights. After the years went by, Iron Maiden never revisited the Egyptian themes again and finally in the 90s a young death metal band from South Carolina would release the mummies from their chambers and resurrect these themes and create an entire career based on the squandered opportunities of Maiden’s voyage into the land of the sphinx and Alexander The Great.

NILE started out as a mere old school death metal band and as evidenced from their demos were nothing out of the ordinary in the beginning. However somewhere in their nascent years the band discovered not only the fruitful possibilities of cross-pollinating Egyptian themes with intense and brutal technical death metal, but went several steps further and added orchestral segments to their music that incorporated the feel and musical scales of the far away lands where the pharaohs once roamed. NILE debuted with a bang on AMONGST THE CATACOMBS OF NEPHREN-KA where they immediately set themselves apart from other old school death metal clones and established a fascinating hybridization of the brutal death metal genre with music and lyrics inspired by Ancient Egypt history, mysticism, religion and arts coupled with healthy doses of H.P. Lovecraft sci-fi veneration.

The title of the album is a reference to Lovecraft’s “The Outsider” where NEPHREN-KA was a fictitious Egyptian Pharaoh who committed horrendous atrocities to fuel his cult worshippers that ultimately resulted in his actions to be erased from the historical records only to be unearthed in the CATACOMBS where he was buried. The music on the album mostly exudes the brutal technical death metal that NILE has become synomous with but also displays their knack of developing the orchestral instrumental parts that originated on Morbid Angel’s “Domination” and put an Ancient Egyptian spin on them. There are also classical inspirations such as the intro of “Ramses Bringer Of War,” a clear references to Gustav Holst’s “Mars Movement” from his best known works on “The Planets.” The Middle Eastern sound is quite strong with additional musicians lending a hand on bona fide thigh bone flutes, Turkish gongs, Damaru human skull drums and eerie sounding choirs. In fact, the whole affair somewhat comes off as a more technically developed Morbid Angel death metal album making an appearance on the Conan The Barbarian soundtrack as the orchestral parts remind me of that movie.

While NILE would continue to hone and craft their sound and ratchet their complexity and sophistication up several notches on the ensuing albums, their debut AMONGST THE CATACOMBS OF NEPHREN-KA is an excellent album in its own right with heavy distorted death metal chops blastbeating their way into your nervous system while Karl Sanders pummels away on the guitar with his death growl vocal style. In this early lineup of NILE, it was Chief Spires on bass and Pete Hammoura on drums and while he didn’t quite match the intensity of George Kollias’ speed, he more than displayed the adequate stamina to churn out satisfying death metal chops. This debut perhaps does not stand above the more accomplished albums that follow but is still one not to be missed. True that the tracks are generally shorter and more to the point without the compositional prowess of albums like “Annihilation Of The Wicked,” but AMONGST THE CATACOMBS OF NEPHREN-KA delivers the goods in a totally satisfying way that adds the mystique of the tales of another time and place with brutal death metal outbursts fortified with lush excursions to a feel of the silk road.
Vim Fuego
This album near approaches the perfect mix of brutality, technicality, and musicianship for death metal. It is difficult to describe the experience of listening to this album. The brutal death metal sections mesh perfectly with the Egyptian stylings.

The ancient Egyptian theme well suits death metal, as the culture may well have been mystical and highly advanced, but it was also violent, harsh, and brutal. The standard of music and appeal of some of the musicianship is such that I have been able to play it to non–metal fans, and they have been able to appreciate it, if not actually like it.

Musically, Nile are tight. Yes, this is ultra brutal stuff, but there are sudden stops and starts, and time changes, all done at high velocity. The album kicks off with the full on bludgeoning double of “Smashing the Antiu” and “Barra Edinazzu”. As the song titles suggest, much of the lyrical content on the album is in the language of ancient Egypt. It's not until the third track, “Kudurru Maqlu”, that the Egyptian musical influences kick in, creating a soundscape of a windblown, dust swept market place, complete with wailing chants. “Ramses, Bringer of War” is a reinterpretation of Gustav Holst’s “Mars, Bringer Of War”, and starts with a stirring military march, utilising horns, before blasting into more deathly frenzy.

Perhaps the standout track of the whole album is “Die Rache Krieg Lied Der Assyriche”. It's far from death metal, yet is powerful. It has a driving rhythm beneath it, with wailing and chanting choruses layered one on top of the other, gongs chiming, and then vocalist Karl Sanders intoning an incantation over top of it all. It is stunningly simple, yet effective and awe inspiring.

Many death metal fans do Nile a great disservice by comparing them to bands like Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, and Suffocation. Nile is so much more than any of those bands. Nile are in a class of their own.
Nile - Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka

'Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka' is the debut studio album by death metal band Nile. I love it when bands include historical settings in their lyrics and sometimes even music, especially when that history is ancient. So it makes sense that I love bands like Nile and Melechech, both including ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian subject matter and middle-eastern sounds in their music.

The music here is primarily brutal in-your-face death metal, with deep growls and skull-crushing drums almost akin to Grindcore. This is immediately heard in the opening track 'Smashing the Antiu', with a mixture of the aforementioned sound and guitars switching from crushing to melodic. While many of the songs follow this style, there are songs that have a bit of a slower pace such as 'Serpent Headed Mask'. It starts out with the crushing guitar and drums, but about a minute through it has a marching beat with choir-like sounds in the background. 'Stones of Sorrow' is another slower-paced song, it still has crushing guitars but the drums have a much slower beat.

Unlike their later releases, most of the songs are very short. The longest song on the album, 'Ramses Bringer of War', clocks in at 4:45. So this makes the album pretty short, which I find to be perfect with how the album sounds. Most of the songs have a similar feel, so they never outstay their welcome with the short running time. One complaint I've seen is about the production. I don't find it to be a problem, but it is kind of muffled.

Overall, while not matching the quality of some of their later releases, this is still a great start for a great band. If you want some brutal death metal, or if you want some historical-twinged lyrics, this would certainly not be a bad start. Hope you found this review helpful.

Feel free to comment!
"Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka" is the debut full-length studio album by US death metal act Nile. The album was released through Relapse Records in April 1998. Nile had put out a couple of minor releases before this one, but "Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka" really put them on the extreme metal map and being released through Relapse Records ensured marketing and distribution to potential listeners, that they hadn´t reached before.

The music on the album is brutal and technically well played US death metal. Quite a few of the early- to mid nineties US death metal bands had a technical twist to their songwriting and performance but Nile take it a step further. They are still rather atmospheric though and quite unique sounding too. The lyrical themes evolve around H. P. Lovecraft influenced themes and ancient Egypt/middle eastern themes.

The musicianship is excellent. These guys are tight and play both blast beats and crushingly doomy sections with conviction and great skill. The occasional use of keyboards work well as variation and atmosphere enhancers, but never rob the powerful brutal music of rawness. The vocals vary between deep growling and some more aggressive growling types. Just as the case is with the instrumental delivery of the music the growling vocals are delivered with both passion and conviction.

The quality of the tracks is generally high, and even though the sound production can´t match the sound productions on later releases by the band, it´s still decent and you are fully able to hear everything that´s going on. To my ears it is a slight issue though and the sound production do prevent the music on "Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka" to shine as much as it probably could have with a more powerful sound production. Still a 3.5 star (70%) rating is fully deserved and "Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka" is overall a great debut album release by Nile.
I think of Nile in the same terms I think of Bolt Thrower: you usually know exactly what you are getting with a Nile album, but even if they do keep working to a formula it's got enough variations and quirks to maintain your interest whichever version they serve it up in. Here, we get the brutal original blueprint, the foundation on which the band would erect more technical embellishments on later releases. It's a fast-paced album whose brevity ensures that it doesn't outlast its welcome and whose intricate contents make sure that it feels longer than its mere half hour running time. Not the band's peak, but a damn good start.
While not a classic in any sense of the word, Nile's debut, "Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka" is still a testament to the greatness of Nile. It doesn't have any of their more epic styled songs, and the production has yet to be bumped up a notch, but that hardly makes it less enjoyable for a Nile record. In fact, it will probably appeal more to straight-up death metal lovers, rather than those who dislike overtly technical and excessive attributes in their metal.

The first thing to notice is the songs are rather short, a stark contrast to what the band would become one day. It gives a sort of grind feel in that sense, in that a lot of the tracks go by at a rapid speed and leave as soon as they arrive. It is indeed harder to pick out tracks even after a few listens, but that's ok. There are also more sections with pure Middle Eastern ambience, such as the track "Kudurru Maqlu", and the complete march piece, "Die Rache Krieg Lied Der Assyriche". Apart from that, there isn't really much different from what we know from Nile.

That being said, the more creative and progressive elements are a bit more noticeably absent. Many of the songs are straight up death metal, like "Barra Edinazzu". There are some great snipppets of what would come eventually, most notably the highlight of the album "Ramses, Bringer of War", which lifts Holst's "Mars, Bringer of War" and incorporates it wonderful into an Egyptian styled death metal piece, definitely a great adaptation. The closing track "Beneath Eternal Oceans Of Sand" is also great, transitioning from dark ambience to tech death in a snap.

As always it seems that Karl Sanders does well leading the team to construct some great metal. His guitar is noticeably present and throughout the album there are lots of those blistering solos that buzz through, giving more harsh oppression to the Egyptian slave-driving mood. The drums lack a bit of personality, and seem to be rather standard fare though. That seems fine, because the song structures still speak for themselves.

As a Nile album, it is easy to see why this one isn't brought up as much as other releases. It isn't bad at all, it just lacks quite a few elements that makes Nile great. That doesn't mean Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka isn't great. On the contrary, it stands on its own as a good collection of Egyptian death metal at a rapid pace with plenty of its own merit

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