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Nile: At the Gate of Sethu

After legendary technical death metal act Nile released their magnificent opus Those Whom The Gods Detest a few years ago, my first thought was "man, how are these guys going to top this one?", and now, here we are in 2012 and the band are unleashing their latest platter of epic death metal, titled At the Gate of Sethu. How does it stack up you ask? Well, for the first time in many years, this latest CD is not instantly accessible, and I'll admit it took me a few listens to really start to warm up to At the Gate of Sethu, as the band uses some different vocal styles on this one, and it seems the uber-technicality aspect has been toned down a bit in favor of upping the brutality and speed. Once it all started to sink in though, it's clearly a Nile release from start to finish, and the end result is that's a good thing, a damn good thing.

Opener "Enduring The Eternal Molestation Of Flame" busts out of the gate in malicious fashion, complete with jagged riffs from Karl Sanders and Dallas Toler-Wade, superhuman drum work from George Kollias, and bulbuous bass courtesy of Todd Ellis. " The Fiends Who Come To Steal The Magick Of The Deceased" sees the first appearance of cleaner vocals from Toler-Wade, and at first it's kind of a shock, but then you realize that despite the 'clearer enunciation', his vocals are still pretty brutal. Same thing on "The Inevitable Degradation Of Flesh", a crushingly complex track with Dallas' almost spoken word death metal rants. Those lovely Middle Eastern/Egyptian passages appear on the mysterious "When My Wrath is Done", which sees the tempo slowed town a tad allowing for grinding, heavier riffs and some blazing guitar solos from the duo.

"The Gods Who Light Up The Sky At The Gate Of Sethu" is Nile at their best, a perfect slice of technical death metal with evil growls from Toler-Wade & Sanders, raging riffs, and some of Kollias' best drumming on the album. The middle section, with crushing, doomy riffs and Egyptian themes, is pure extreme metal delight. This segues into the rapid fire onslaught that is "Natural Liberation Of Fear Through The Ritual Deception Of Death" another stellar cut that showcases all that is so great about this band. For some old-school death metal, you can't go wrong with "Tribunal Of The Dead", somewhat of a departure for Nile but it still works and the results are heavy and brutal as all hell, with Kollias tearing it up amidst crushing riffage and Toler-Wade's anguished vocals. "Supreme Humanism Of Megalomania" mixes tons of melody within the extreme progressive metal framework, as Sanders lays down plenty of tasty harmony guitar lines throughout this technical masterpiece. Epic closer " The Chaining Of The Iniquitous" once again sees slower, doomy riffs, Egyptian themes, lightning quick guitar solos, and Sanders' spooky death growls come into play for a chilling and powerful finale.

After the first few spins of At the Gate of Sethu, I was actually, for the first time ever, starting to feel a little underwhelmed with a Nile record, but then as I allowed the album to really start to sink in, I realized just how killer this one really is. Yeah, there are some different elements that the band are introducing here, but it's all good and only helps elevate the music and offer a bit of variety to their sound. This is brutal stuff, very technical in spots, and most importantly classy and sophisticated, which is not something you can always say about a death metal record. Highly, highly recommended!

Track Listing
01. Enduring The Eternal Molestation Of Flame
02. The Fiends Who Come To Steal The Magick Of The Deceased
03. The Inevitable Degradation Of Flesh
04. When My Wrath Is Done
05. Slaves Of Xul
06. The Gods Who Light Up The Sky At The Gate Of Sethu
07. Natural Liberation Of Fear Through The Ritual Deception Of Death
08. Ethno-Musicologial Cannibalisms
09. Tribunal Of The Dead
10. Supreme Humanism Of Megalomania
11. The Chaining Of The Iniquitous

Added: July 2nd 2012
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 1983
Language: english

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Nile: At the Gate of Sethu
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-07-02 17:26:31
My Score:

Without naming all the overtly long song titles, At the Gate of Sethu sees Nile slightly toning down their complex, labyrinthine songwriting formula in favour of a more straightforward approach (by their own standards, of course). The tracks are filled with frenzied riff mastery; they are blindingly fast and carry a melodic weight to them. Densely churning riffs are interwoven into deranged, schizophrenic solos with haunting harmonies looming over the arrangements. The shorter pieces, thanks to the clever integration of authentic instruments and Egyptian themes, serve as interludes and help deepen the atmospheres intended to create. They are followed by intense, focused riffing and Kollias' seismic, hyperkinetic drum work which is given a larger space in the mix.

The songs are marked with blasts of speed and thundering, brutal riffs, some of which are instantly gripping. The opening riff of "Natural Liberation of Fear through the Ritual Deception of Death" is glorious as is the melodically complex lead of "Supreme Humanism of Megalomania," which is, unfortunately, the only track with an 'epic' guitar crescendo. While it is obvious Nile wanted to cut loose on this album, and they've done a great job at it, the album's finest moments are those when they choose to so slow things down on the doom-like "Tribunal of the Dead," arguably their heaviest offering here. It boasts 70s Sabbath-like riffs which are deftly hammered into shape by unsettlingly quiet passages and doomsday melodies. The mind-numbing, intricate guitar work is so sharp it could carve diamonds this is what sets Nile apart from other death metal bands. Not only do they write obsessively focused and blistering riffs and solos, they also know how to incorporate them into the songs' most pivotal moments achieving cohesion rivaled by few others.

While I consider this album another strong entry into Nile's never-disappointing discography, I still happen to like their period from Black Seeds of Vengeance through Annihilation of the Wicked the best. The low, guttural vocals, the more organic-sounding dynamically rich arrangements, and the cripplingly heavy riffs and lead passages on their Relapse albums have been missing on Nile's more recent output. The production on this one is similar to that of the previous two releases, but unlike Those Whom the Gods Detest, it seems like the low end could have been more emphasized, as there are moments when the whole mix is dominated by the relentless fury of the guitars and pummelling push of the drums. At times, this results in a claustrophobic soundscape, but given the album's flow and direction it works. The vocals consist of demonic grunts and bellowed, hellish screams that are punctuated by the more guttural, bowel-churning growls for added tension.

The two instrumental bonus tracks demonstrate the band's knack for creating complex grooves and interlocking them with precise, stampeding rhythmic motion that might appeal to fans of Meshuggah. As a matter of fact, listening to each band's new disc back to back is a great experience.

Finally, Seth Siro Anton's (Soilwork, Septic Flesh, Paradise Lost) is amazing. It definitely captures the dark side of Nile and reflects their current musical vision.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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