Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Review: Nile - At the Gates of Sethu

Nile have held a devastatingly brutal place in the metal scene, and over the course of their eleven year career have released seven full-length albums to date. The South Carolina originated group have slowly grown in popularity, having been widely recognized for both their 2007 effort Ithyphallic, and the follow up, Those Whom the Gods Detest, in 2009. After such a long career with so many albums in their discography, can Nile still deliver a fresh and crushing experience?

Genre: Brutal/Technical Death Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: June 29th, 2012
  1. Enduring the Eternal Molestation of Flame
  2. The Fiends Who Come to Steal the Magick of the Deceased
  3. The Inevitable Degradation of Flesh
  4. When My Wrath Is Done
  5. Slaves of Xul 
  6. The Gods Who Light Up the Sky at the Gate of Sethu  
  7. Natural Liberation of Fear Through the Ritual Deception of Death
  8. Ethno-Musicological Cannibalisms  
  9. Tribunal of the Dead 
  10. Supreme Humanism of Megalomania  
  11. The Chaining of the Iniquitous
Total Playtime: 47 minutes, 45 seconds

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Rating: 9.0/10




Nile have held a devastatingly brutal place in the metal scene, and over the course of their eleven year career have released seven full-length albums to date. The South Carolina originated group have slowly grown in popularity, having been widely recognized for both their 2007 effort Ithyphallic, and the follow up, Those Whom the Gods Detest, in 2009. After such a long career with so many albums in their discography, can Nile still deliver a fresh and crushing experience?

From the very start At the Gates of Sethu grips the listener by their skull and pushes inward with crushing brutality; "Enduring the Eternal Molestation of Flame" sets the mood of the album within the first thirty seconds and spends the remaining four minutes wreaking havoc with a frenzy of tight lead solos and cheap-but-thrilling squeals. "The Fiends Who Come to Steal the Magick of the Deceased" uses its bendy hooks to latch deep into ones psyche, embedding hauntingly memorable chants which make the flesh crawl. Though the previous two songs make a great introduction to the plethora of crushing content, "The Inevitable Degradation of Flesh" is where everything is given a real breath of life and comes with some of the catchiest lyrics on the album.

There is a definite raw quality production here, and it shows in overly echo-induced tracks like "When My Wrath Is Done". This isn't a bad thing, and it works well given the ancient Egyptian theme that Nile works with and also gives them the signature sound that they have spent their career creating. However, much like the album artwork and ensuing promotional pictures, there is an overproduced quality kicking around however minor it may be, the tracks are blatantly recorded in clear quality and edited to sound raw. For the type of content produced and the amount of sound that is going on, this is a good production move for Nile and the mixing matches.


What lies behind At the Gates of Sethu is a very dense and ancient atmosphere brought to life by Egyptian cultured instrumental tracks and bits of this style entombed throughout the contents. The first instrumental track is situated roughly halfway through the track list, "Slaves of Xul" makes use of rhythmic bongos and an effect that can't quite be placed that is used to mimic what would be a whip. Soon, this track carves an image of Egyptian slaves being forced to drag stones and superiors on carts across the dry sands as moans, groans and grunts fill the background and a more prominent voice speaks in tongues unknown. The second instrumental track, "Ethno-Musicological Cannibalisms", also makes use of an acoustic guitar and crushing theatrical bass that thunderously sends the last half of the album into overcast darkness.

In comparison to the latter half of the album, "Ethno-Musicological Cannibalisms" and onward, the first half sounds sunny and upbeat. When the second instrumental strikes, everything takes on a much heavier and darker overtone than what was presented before. One can almost feel the dark clouds rolling over and clouding the skies as chaos begins to unfold and crypts are infiltrated. "Tribunal of the Dead" is chocked with sludge filled riffs that slow down to the point of nearly stopping and deep, pounding drumming that just bring a whole new level of heaviness to Nile.

The listener will be left to believe this is the heaviest track on At the Gates of Sethu until the ending track, "The Chaining of the Iniquitous", begins. Chillingly encased in whipping chain effects, Nile uses this element to their advantage. A theatrical style synthetic introduction soon becomes coupled with an evil hiss, reminiscent of a mist of death, that wafts randomly throughout the song. This track encompasses the deepest gutterals, provocatively melodic guitars, and backing double bass drumming that sends a shock wave throughout the material as the kicks and hits leave a deep echo behind.

Many may say that this is still the same Nile of old, and while this is true the band haven't lost their touch or ability to create impressionable music in their own brand of brutality. At the Gates of Sethu is full of ear candy, abundant with mood setting cinematic bits which are tossed in for flavor and tons of brutiful technicality to go along with. Hard hitting, deep drumming is really what gives this album its foundation and the vocals have a tantalizing way of keeping the material fresh time and time again. A high recommendation of Nile fans and listeners looking for something immersive and original.

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