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ConcertsAn Evening With Nile in Salt Lake City

Posted on Saturday, March 30 2013 @ 07:40:45 CDT by Pete Pardo
Heavy Metal Imagine an evening with Nile. I don't mean seeing them on a bill with other major touring groups, one in which they go on right before the headliner, play a shortened set, and step aside for a lesser band. No, I'm talking about an entire evening with Nile, an evening dedicated to Nile, an evening where they not only headline the show, but also play two complete sets of music, sets that include songs that haven't been played lately. Imagine that. Well, they're doing just that and it is good.

Before writing more about Nile, I want to mention one of the coolest things about this tour-- Nile is asking that the best local bands in the area serve as the opening acts. In my recent interview with Karl Sanders, he explained that local bands no longer get as much help as they used to, that they don't always get to play with touring groups, and that they don't get enough exposure to large numbers of fans. Since every band is, at one point or another, local, they need experience. This tour is about helping them gain greater experience, energy, and effectiveness. For the Salt Lake City stop, Nile invited Merlin's Beard, Gravetown, and Arsenic Addiction to open for them. I don't know how the bands were selected, nor if they even hung out with Nile. What I do know is that they played well and that the audience was supportive. The numbers didn't swell to their biggest until Nile appeared, but the local scene is strong here and seems to look after local acts.

Merlin's Beard opened the evening. I saw them perform with Testament a few weeks ago and thought they were excellent. I missed their show tonight because I was interviewing Karl Sanders, but I can only guess that they were great. They were outstanding last month and can't have lost it all since then. They are one of the better local acts I've seen lately and I hope they have a bright future. They currently have an EP available on Itunes but don't have a Bandcamp presence. They have a lot of energy and sound great in performance. Gravetown, a straightforward death and thrash act, played a strong set. They have a Facebook presence with links to a few songs. They are strong and impressive. Arsenic Addiction, the last local opener, has a full-length album on Itunes entitled An Undertakers Lament: Dedicated From the Living to the Dead. I haven't heard the album, but they played a bunch of songs from it in their set. The music is a blend of Gothic and black metal and isn't bad. They perform in corpse paint, their faces white, their eyes blackened out. One of their guitar players wore a mask with a long beak, something out of a Gothic mood or style. The lead singer, a woman with a nice shriek, sits behind a keyboard, holding various props, a skull or an old book, for example. It was interesting, but the props were a little too theatrical, not necessary to enjoying the music. Still, as homage to horror film fun, it worked well enough.

When Nile took the stage, they did so with the authority and confidence of people who have been performing for a long time. When they started playing, the audience went absolutely crazy. I couldn't believe the way people were not only thrashing about, but doing so in rather mean, overly physical ways. Some members of the audience didn't care who got in their way, they just slammed into them. I don't care for this kind of behavior. Everybody knows that pits have rules and that one of them is to respect the boundary between those who are slamming and those who aren't.

Nile's two sets blended newer material with older material effectively. So far as I could tell, all seven albums were represented, something that makes this tour so special. My favorite album, Those Whom the Gods Detest was well represented in the first set. Songs like "Kafir!" and "4th Arra of Dagon" sounded spectacular. I also enjoyed "Permitting the Noble Dead to Descent to Underworld." The material from At the Gate of Sethu were well-received and sounded good, but isn't quite as familiar yet as the older stuff. The second set, which began after a fifteen minute break, was just as strong as the first. The band drew on work from early releases, including Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka and Black Seeds of Vengeance. Much of this material is faster than more recent work; it was amazing to watch the members of the band run through the blistering riffs. I knew Karl Sanders and Dallas Toler-Wade could do it, but was surprised to see Todd Ellis, the current bass player, following along with such grace and precision. He's only been with the band a short time, but he really nailed the material. As for drummer George Kollias, all I can say is that he drives everything forward, keeping everything together with some of the most exciting and powerful drumming out there. The highlight of the second set, for me, was "Sarcophagus," a song that hasn't seen the light of day for quite a while. It sounded great and let right in to "Black Seeds of Vengeance," the perfect closer. At the end of the second set, Karl Sanders sat down on the edge of the stage and talked to fans. I don't know how long he stayed there, but I got the feeling he loved every minute. Nile is the real deal, a legendary death metal band that loves the music, the fans, and the scene.

Carl Sederholm

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