NILE — Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka (review)

NILE — Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka album cover Album · 1998 · Brutal Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
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.
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UMUR wrote:
1 year ago
Definitely my least favorite Nile album. I prefer the Kollias era albums to the old ones.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
1 year ago
I know that feeling! I've reached the point when i find an album on RYM and totally forgot what it sounds like and i found that i wrote a review. LOL
Unitron wrote:
1 year ago
Good album, though not my favorite. I always forget that I've reviewed it myself.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
1 year ago
I only got into Nile in the last 10 years so missed out on this period but it still gets a reaction out of me today :)
Vim Fuego wrote:
1 year ago
It got a great reaction when it first came out.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
1 year ago
Cool. I think i like the next one better. In fact i love them all but this one tends to be underrated IMHO
Vim Fuego wrote:
1 year ago
Still my favourite Nile album.

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