Album Review: Do Nile Annhilate Dark Shrines of Vengeance on Vile Nilotic Rites?

  • Jeff Treppel

Whether you like them or not, Nile have a well-deserved reputation for extremity. Usually death metal acts trade brutality for technicality or vice versa. Nile never did. Their propensity for complex time signatures and Karl Sander’s Stygian belch combined to make them a difficult listen. I dunno whether my tolerance for this shit has changed, or if Nile themselves have made their sound more accessible, but Vile Nilotic Rites might be the first record of theirs I’ve enjoyed, well, ever.

Their ninth album in 26 years features the first recorded appearance of new second guitarist Brian Kingsland. Sanders also claims the band approached the songwriting more democratically. Whatever the reason, the songs feel more cohesive than they have in years. Sanders and Kingsland’s interplay gives rippers like “Oxford Handbook of Savage Genocidal Warfare” an entirely new dimension — a chthonic, evil dimension, sure, but a new dimension nonetheless. Plus, Kingsland’s more traditional supporting vocals balance out Sanders’ divisive grunt. It provides a cleaner entryway for those who felt intimidated by their trademark wall of chaos.

They remain true to what makes them, well, Nilotic. “Snake Pit Mating Frenzy” certainly captures the promise of its title. Songs like the title track and “That Which Is Forbidden” unleash the shred. “Seven Horns of War” even features an unexpected guest appearance from Akira Ifukube’s “Godzilla Theme.” It serves as an appropriate intro to an absolute monster of a song. Even if (like in a lot of tech-death releases) the whirling riffs blend together towards the end of the 55-minute runtime, it’s a less wearying experience.

While still an acquired taste, Nile take huge strides towards opening their sound to a wider audience here — relatively speaking. Band purists probably still prefer their earlier work. That said, this makes for a thoroughly satisfying technical death metal assault. Whatever they’ve changed this time around, they make the darkened depths seem appealing once more.

Nile’s Vile Nilotic Rites comes out Friday. Listen to the title track here and preorder the album here. Purchase tickets to their tour with Terrorizer here.

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