Nile – At The Gate Of Sethu

(Nuclear Blast)

Sometimes an album comes along and blows any preconceptions you had completely out of the water. I’ve always had a soft spot for Egypt obsessed Nile, not in a ‘I lurve them’ kinda way but more of a begrudging respect at how ridiculous they can be, a trait that manifests itself in both the most ludicrous musicianship and most down-right laughable vocals known to man. With their back catalogue little more than that balance between lucidity and ludicrousness, this album came as a shock.

For starters this album has an almost perfect production, which Nile fans will know is almost unheard of. Sporting a polished sound that retains their trademark brutality yet is crystal clear, something all too lacking in generic death metal production. The transitions between cleaner sections and the bombast and blasting is lovely and don’t sound like they were cut and paste in protools by a monkey. Producer Neil Kernon will surely receive a lot of the plaudits and it’s brave move in the face of previous releases by Nile. This doesn’t sound like it was done using triggers or a billion guitars layered to oblivion, it sounds, well, natural. Reminiscent of modern day thrash in terms of texture, discounting the vocals, which is a lovely surprise. The vocals can actually be understood, it isn’t all ‘wobbly wobbly’ indecipherable low end noise, which, for me, is a plus…. Shit. Did I suddenly turn into my Dad?

Of course by changing even a tiny amount, in the world of Br00tal Death Metal this can lead to ostracising of Cryptopsy levels. So have Nile sold out? Well if making a record accessible without compromise on brutality and great musicianship is selling out, then you are a cock. Go back to your early Deicide albums.

Throughout At The Gate Of Sethu it does seem that Nile have learnt to write songs instead of studies in ‘How mental can we play for 4 minutes?’ That’s not to say that some parts aren’t bat-shit crazy, and for purists the song titles are still ludicrous. I doubt many will be screaming out for ’Natural Liberation of Fear Through the Ritual Deception of Death’ when they perform at Bloodstock this weekend. They should though. Hey, pint of cheap piss lager for anyone who does.*

By no means is this perfect but this shows a massive development for them as a band and a direction that if pursued could see them compete at the higher end of the metal spectrum. If that matters to anyone. Stand out tracks including stunning opener ’Enduring the Eternal Molestation of Flame’, ‘The Fiends Who Come to Steal the Magick of the Deceased’, ‘The Inevitable Degradation of Flesh’ and ‘The Gods Who Light Up the Sky at the Gate of Sethu.’ Put those together and you’ve got a set of in incredible standard that few will match. And lots of high scores at Scrabble. I am officially a convert. I am totally gay for Nile (*adds Nile to list of things I am gay for*) and I can’t wait to see them on the main stage at Bloodstock.

8.5/10

*disclaimer. Prize does not actually exist.

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