Nile's 2002 release In Their Darkened Shrine certainly ranks among death metal's finest albums. Not only is this album brutally heavy, but the guitar riffs and solos are extremely technical, the drum work fast, furious, and intricate, the lyrics well thought out and mesmerizing (especially for fans of ancient Egyptian history & mythology, as well as general horror concepts), and the vocals are some of the best in the genre.
Lyrically, this is some pretty heavy stuff, as Karl Sanders and Dallas Toler-Wade have really put together some intense reading material to go along with the thunderous music. While sometimes it might seem unusual to think that a death metal album would require reading the lyrics while listening to the CD, with Nile that's pretty much required and mandatory. Songs like "Sarcophagus" and "Execration Text" pull you in with their lurid lyrics, while the music excites the senses, shifting from rampaging & technical death metal to slower, doomier dirges. "Unas Slayer Of The Gods" is a 10-minute plus epic that opens with an acoustic riff that is identical to the main theme of the Candlemass song "Well of Souls", but then bursts forward with manic drum work from Tony Laureano, bludgeoning riffs, spooky background keyboards, and some lethal death metal grunts. There's even a wicked horn section on this one (could be a French Horn or trumpet) which is the calm before the storm during the lulling middle section, before the guitar solo rips through the mix with fierce intensity. This epic piece ends with some classic doom metal riffs that should please fans of Black Sabbath or Candlemass.
"Churning The Maelstrom" switches gears once again, as the band goes for the juggular with some superhuman fast technical arrangments, while "I Whisper In The Ear Of The Dead" alternates between complex death metal and atmospheric doom, as it tells the tale of the pharoah Nectanabus. The spoken death metal narration here is quite chilling to hear. The four-part 18 minute title track closes out the album in grand and epic fashion, as it utlizes all sorts of odd instruments like trumpets, keyboards, percussion, as well as numerous vocal chants. This long piece features a great mix of symphonic arrangements that should appeal to the progressive rock crowd, but make no mistake about it, there's also some truly monstrous and technical metal going on here as well.
Along with Nile's 2005 release Annihilation of the Wicked, the band have created one of the most potent 1-2 punches in death metal history, or even all of metal itself. This is intelligent, brutal music on a lyrical as well as musical level. Highly recommended!
1) The Blessed Dead
2) Execration Text
4) Kheftiu Asar Butchiu
5) Unas Slayer Of The Gods
6) Churning The Maelstrom
7) I Whisper In The Ear Of The Dead
8) Wind Of Horus
IN THEIR DARKENED SHRINES
9) I Hall Of Saurian Entombment
10) II Invocation Of Seditious Heresy
11) III Destruction Of The Tempe Of The Enemies Of Ra
12) IV Ruins