NILE — Those Whom the Gods Detest (review)

NILE — Those Whom the Gods Detest album cover Album · 2009 · Technical Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
At the beginning of my new journey into extreme metal, I recalled the band Nile being mentioned a few times on MMA and decided to check them out. This album became my first acquisition and I have decided it will be only the first of a few.

Nile are a band that stick with an ancient Egyptian theme, and I think for many bands, commencing their careers with such a theme can be exciting because of all the possibilities they imagine ahead. However, a few albums later and the theme can start to run a little thin. Knowing that this is the band's sixth album, I had to wonder what stage in their theme's evolution I was at. Had they begun with a very strong emphasis on the Egyptian theme and then eased back on it? Had they almost dropped it and were now bringing it back a little? Did they more or less maintain the Egyptian theme at the same level? Until I hear more albums I will not know for sure. But here are my impressions of "Those Whom the Gods Detest".

First off, the Egyptian theme is mostly in the artwork, the song titles, and the lyrics, though at times we can hear what sounds like ancient brass, shamic chanting, ancient stringed instruments and percussion, and voices chanting or wailing. I like how the band has included these as additional colour and tone without relying too heavily on them. They don't fill or lead the song but add atmosphere and interest.

As a brutal death metal band you can expect some furious drumming. I have been really impressed with drummer George Kollias because he not only has perfected all the standard death metal chops of double kick bass, blast beats, and speedy fills, but he actually uses the his drum fills to emphasis beats. Usually drum fills replace beats by filling the space with a flurry of snare and tom activity. But Kollias strikes the toms hitting each drum hard first before letting the sticks do their dance on the skins. Instead of a drum fill going brrrr, prrrat-ta-tat (sorry for the crude omomatopeaia), Kollias does a brr-brr-brrah-brrat-tarr-trr-brr kind of thing. Yes, they way I write it sounds silly and there's probably a percussion speak term that describes it. Anyway, I enjoy listening to his drum tricks.

The guitar parts of the music are an interesting pallette of breakneck speedy riffs, mid-tempo crushing riffs, and slow, ponderous riffs that are so slow and heavy they are like the feet of a ressurected mummy dragging across the limestone slabs. Way back in the early days of thrash metal, it was common for guitarists to tremolo pick chords at high speeds while drummers had to stick with just fairly fast beats. These days, drumming techniques can allow drummers to play beats faster than the guitarists can keep up. So here we have some songs with mid-tempo riffs and high-speed percussion. I think Nile marry this combination with great skill here.

The vocals are really awesome. We have the tough, ragged throat brutal vocals, and deeper death growls, and also a share of the deep, gutteral, toilet-bowl-gurgling vocals. Some extreme bands vocalize everything in this deep rumble and the lyrics are completely incomprehensible. Nile use this method of vocalizing for effect and drop it in mid-sentence so that it's possible to still follow the lyrics if you listen carefully. I think it really works!

Last, the production quality is super sharp which is necessary for an album like this to succeed sonically. With all the percussive effects, the additional voices and so on, it's a real treat to hear them enhance the mood and music. The track called "Yezd Desert Ghul Ritual in the Abandoned Towers of Silence" has these fabulous slapping percussive instruments, deep growls like from a beast the size of Jabba the Hutt, swishing sounds, chanting, wailing, clinking, and an ancient stringed instrument. It's like listening to a scene from an Egyptian horror movie in THX in the movie theater.

For my first Nile album, "Those Whom the Gods Detest" has made a considerable impression. Before the summer is over I will be sure to add at least one more album to my collection and for sure a third before the year is out.
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