Nile // At the Gate of Sethu
Rating: 2.0/5.0 — You always lose when you appease Hitler.
Label: Nuclear Blast [EU | US]
Websites: nile-catacombs.net | facebook.com/nilecatacombs
Release Dates: US: 07.03.2012 | EU: 2012.06.29

Nile - At the Gate of SethuNile should need no introduction. This Egyptian themed grindy death metal band which hails from Greensville, South Carolina have been one of the darlings of the American death metal scene since the release of their mighty Black Seeds of Vengeance in 2000 (though all the trve guys will tell you that it was their debut album that was more important and that everything since then is crap). Since 1998 they’ve produced 6 stellar full-lengths, and while each one wasn’t successively better than the last, the quality dip that one expects after a while (Angry Metal Guy’s Law of Diminishing Recordings™) never really happened. But science has a way of catching up to you, and according to an interview that I read recently, Karl Sanders made an executive decision after he watched the infamous “Hitler Reacts to the new Morbid Angel record” video. He decided that changing anything ever was a terrible idea, because Hitler would get all upset about it, which apparently led to him not changing anything about his formula even a little bit on At the Gate of Sethu despite having thought about doing something that could be imagined to be the middle-ground between the classic Nile sound and his solo record Saurian Exorcisms. Given that you’re fans of Nile, I assume you’re also fans of history and that it goes without saying what happens when people try to appease Hitler.

At the Gate of Sethu starts out precisely like Those Whom God Detests did before it. Actually, that’s kind of not even exaggeration, “Kafir!” and “Enduring the Eternal Molestation of Flame” sound remarkably similar. And as the record progresses, that’s kind of the impression that you get throughout. Everything on display on At the Gate of Sethu feels a bit like a caricature of a Nile record. The riffs are frantic, techy and endlessly running races up and down Arabic sounding scales. George Kollias’ drumming is over-the-top, immense and equally technical; pounding in tact with every riff. I’m pretty sure his feet don’t stop kicking those double-bass pedals for the record’s whole 47 minutes. Bassist/vocalist Dallas puts in his normal performance, with Dim Mak-like crazy beat poet performances that sometimes don’t even feel like they’re in time with the music. Intersperse a couple of instrumental tracks (“Slaves of Xul” and “Ethno-Musical Cannibalisms”), write lyrics about spells and Egyptian mysticism and you’ve got yourself a pretty standard Nile record.

Nile - 2012But unlike previous records, the thrashing and grinding and pummeling simply wash away in a gray tide of noise. Every Nile record has its own thing up to this point (even Ithyphallic‘s “short and sweet” approach, which I think is great); but At the Gate of Sethu does nothing new. And if the record does have a unique sound, it’s that the band does a lot less of what I personally love about Nile. The combination of the late-90s death metal grind with almost a funeral doom approach to slow parts has always intersected with great melodic riffs that work like hooks and pull the listener into the song. And yet, while the grind parts are here—everywhere—the slow doom and groove parts—that is, the contrast in these paintings—rarely are touched. The heavy focus on grind also seems to have taken what little focus the band put on melodic riffs, which leaves At the Gate of Sethu feeling chaotic instead heavy, but also monochromatic. Hell, even the atmosphere that the band really made eternal with Black Seeds of Vengeance feels much more in the back seat.

When it comes right down to it, the only song on here I even really like is “Supreme Humanism of Meglomania.” Other than that, the record is filled with duds and tracks that leave this Angry Metal Guy unmoved. Part of this may be production. The guitar tone is a tad thin and the bass is practically inaudible most of the time. The drums are immense, however, and probably too high in the mix (on a Nile record!? Oh wait…). But mostly, I just think this record suffers from a bad batch of riffs. In Sanders’ push to appease Hitler, he forgot the lessons of history: Hitler does not get appeased. Instead, by writing a record full of flat, uninspired riffs and not thinking outside the box, he’s now angered Hitler anyway. Go read the reviews at Metal Archives—that guy is pissed. Die-hard fans should check this out as always, maybe the changes are what you want from Nile. I certainly don’t suggest the casual listener check this one out, though. Head back and start with Amongst the Catacombs of Nephran-Ka instead or Black Seeds of Vengeance, those records speak to the genius and inspiration that seem to be missing on this record.

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  • Totally agree with this review. Now I’d like to see everybody that blasted me as an ignorant death metal listener because I dared to speak ill of Nile come in here with that shit too. I may be new to the band but I can tell the obvious changes between the previous releases and this one. The production is thin and lacks any of the power and brutality that was a staple of Nile, and most of the songs sound like something Therion would have done early in their career with the over the top theatrical howling and yelling amid attempts to be progressive.

    Instead of maintaining the status of being a bench mark they’ve regressed in quality on Sethu to something I get in press e-mails from inexperienced bands that are desperate to get noticed. It’s a shame and I really hope the next effort is much better.

    • Ruh roh. Did you get mobbed by angry fans? 

      •  Not mobbed but a couple 3 or 4 chimed in:) It was to be expected though considering the stature of the band.

        • Yeah, it kinda goes without saying that you’ll get that kind of response from a band of this size. Particularly a band that’s been this good. Release high will wear off and a lot of people won’t come back to this album, IMO. 

  • Bummer, I was looking forward to this. I was hoping the most famous metal band from my state could keep making exceptional records. Aw well, better luck next time I guess.

  • this review is just a joke right?

    • No. Does it seem like I’m joking? 

      • well you must be cause i dont think we heard the same album. ” a record filled with duds” i mean wtf! the only true misstep nile have had is ithyphallic. the last album and now this one is taking them to new levels entirely. both are very distinct albums too and dont sound the same. nile are so far ahead of others in this genre its not even funny. sorry but i couldn’t disagree with you more about this album im sure this is going to be very successful for them.

        • thehuntress144

           Fanboys, CHAAAAAAAAARGE!

          •  haha well its true, who else touches them in this type of metal. and this album just cements it again. this site is becoming a joke these days

          • You’re absolutely right, man. This review site, comprised of individuals(read: Reviewers) with a palette for metal so diverse that it engulfs our own definition of the word ten fold……people who spin an album  5-20 times before typing down a single word…….is becoming a joke.

            Is there a sarcasm font? I couldn’t possibly italicize that paragraph enough.

          • hmm so for example the six feet under album was spinned 5-20 times before the childish review i dont think so

          • Actually, I’d say I listened to the Six Feet Under album at least 6 times. I suppose If I listened to it 7 times I would have found it amazing.

          • How exactly is the site becoming a joke?

        • No one is asking you to agree. But looking at the comments, I’m not alone in this opinion. I’ve been a big Nile fan since I started listening to death metal, and the band hadn’t had a misstep until now, IMO.

          I’m sure this record will do well for them.

  • Agree. Really was looking forward to this one coming off of Those Whom The Gods Detest, but your review is spot on.

  • thehuntress144

    Couldn’t agree more. I love Nile, they are one of my absolute favorites, but this record, it’s just so bad. It doesn’t even have the unintentional benefit of being so bad it’s good…it’s just…bad!

  • Unfortunately you’re right, what a crushing disappointment! Hard to believe this is the same Nile that gave us tracks like Utterances of the Crawling Dead… Damnit…!

    • See, and I love Nile (just think this record is flat and disappointing). Not Northern European at all. :P

      • Haha! I love Nile too, and your review is spot on… Still, not surprised you liked the most melodic song although it IS the best song…! Btw, Caligula’s Horse is pretty trippy, thanks for the head’s up…

        • It’s just the best song. I also love Unas: Slayer of Gods, and I don’t think that’s the most “melodic song” it’s just awesome and epic as fuck. And I also like Ulcerate and Dodecahedron, both of which are almost entirely atonal bands. 

  • More than trying to appeal to Hitler, they seem to mostly appeal to safety. And nobody wants to feel safe hearing Nile. High up on my “Bummer of the Year” list with Meshuggah. Thanks for the review AMG.

  • Michael Imbornoni

    I think you printed the Gojira review in place of the Nile review and vice versa. 

    • I’m not a big Gojira fan, it’s true. But I think I actually enjoyed the new Gojira more than this.

  • Kalsten

    I like Nile. I like their sound, as different compared to other death metal bands that, in less than 5 seconds of a song, you can recognize that it is them playing.

    I have gone only once through the new album, and it wasn’t as disappointed as I am seeing the people here. What it really piss me off was the production, as sometimes it is impossible to understand the guitar riffs under that megadrums that is above everything in the mix. And also the voice seems to be moving to a more melodic way instead of a brutal growl as before.

    I have to hear it several times until I have a more solid opinion, however.

  • Mike_Callavaro

    This record sucked. Plain and simple.

    • Right, but we write long form reviews here. :P 

    • so give us an example of a record that doesnt suck then..go on

      • How about you go scroll back through the reviews. There are many examples of albums that don’t suck.

  • Only listened to the album all the way through once so far, and it’s definitely not as instantly pleasurable as Those Whom the Gods Destest was when that was released. I wouldn’t say it’s terrible though. The one thing that jumps out the most at me is the vocals. I have a bad feeling that Dallas has fucked up his voice. I saw Nile last year, and whilst Dallas records the majority of the vocals on albums, and indeed has performed the majority when I’ve seen them on previous occasions, their bassist seemed to be playing that part of ‘lead vocalist’ this time round; and now hearing what can only be described as pretty weak screams on this album, I think its fair to say his best, and perhaps Nile’s best days are behind them.

    Shit.

  • jon

    I didn’t like it at first as well, but it definitely grew on me.  There are some very great stuff on this album that really shine through on repeated listens. 
    At the Gate of Sethu as of this moment, probably is my third favorite Nile.  However I struggle returning to Those Whom God Detests, as I find that particular album to be quite boring.

  • as usual when a band gets popular and no longer underground they get abuse. i mean look at the comments on here about this album ” is just bad” etc. have any of these people actually listened to death metal or is this site now infested with trolls. gojira new album gets 5/5 on here enough said about the credibility of this site thats def on the slide. i like that band but really they are incredibly repetitive and over-hyped. nile has more ideas in one song than gojira do on an album. listen im no fanboy ive listened to death metal most of my life and i know this is nile at top of their game. whos gonna top them in future fleshgod apocalypse maybe who else? and will steel druhm just go back to jorn already :P

    • Johnny, Are you a Nile roadie or something? This site is run by a few people who don’t get paid but devote a ton of time to keeping it running. We don’t take any advertising and we’re in the tank for nobody. We review based on our opinions. If you disagree, that’s cool. Attacking the credibility of the a site that usually reviews very underground and in many cases, unknown bands, seems a bit strange.

      •  i wasnt attacking the site, the tone of text can seem harsher than it is. i just hope this site isnt going to something like metalsucks where overrated bands like gojira get praised to the heavens but then a band like nile gets trashed.

    • thehuntress144

       I believe you are filling the roll of ‘troll’ on this site….

    • No one is forcing you to read our reviews, dude. If you’re feelin’ regularly butthurt because we don’t agree with you, you’re free to hit the Googles and find other sites that blow sunshine up the asses of your favorite bands (trust me, they exist). 

      This website is written by multiple individuals with different tastes in music. No one’s opinion is “checked” by anyone else on the staff. Sometimes these things will fall your way, other times they won’t. Deal with it. 

      •  im not trying to troll this site, i have better things to do with my time. im also not butthurt as you put it over your reviews recently. im allowed my opinion on this site too right? isnt it better that im honest instead of people on here going i agree dude 100* or this album plain sucks. one thing you can say about nile is that even if you dont like the album it still has a certain quality in the work and doesn’t just plain suck. i do still enjoy this site and most of reviews put up are informative but if i see a bullshit one like this of course im gonna jump on it and i dont think i should get called a troll because of it.

        • Well, except you’re falling right into the normal “bullshit” vs “informative” meaning “we don’t agree with you” vs “we do agree with you.” That’s some crack ass bullshit, right there. And when you say shit like “This site is becoming a joke,” that seems like you’re attacking the site and not just disagreeing. 

          Disagreeing respectfully so as to not seem like a troll like a lot of people do all the time, would be the best way to not get the pushback that you’re being a troll. 

          •  i never once said because you dont agree with me i dont like your review. maybe i did go too far saying the site is becoming a joke but your review did piss me off not because you have a different viewpoint.”filled with duds” i mean come one. the new morbid angel is filled with duds not this album. nile dont release an album full of duds even ithyphallic had great songs. i believe i was respectful in that i gave my opinion honestly, im not sitting on here going oh the site fucking sucks etc which is the very definition of a troll. i have left comments on here praising reviews, albums and the site. i hope we can put an end to the bickering and say we will agree to disagree

          • I was on that page to begin with. And dude, this record is filled with duds. Since I like, literally, a single song on it I think that counts as “filled with duds.” It doesn’t sound powerful to me, it sounds boring.

  • MetalMartin

    Fuck production!  I just changed my EQ crank things up a bit to my taste then started listening to the album.  It’s a good album, not their best but still they play well, it’s varied and it’s Nile.  And no, I’m not a die-hard fan.  AMG, you should interview them (if possible) in order to ask if they put their balls and guts into this album or if it was just for a living…

  • My favorite Nile album was (and still is) “The Annihilation of the Wicked”. I was looking forward this album, but when the dust settled… I was unsure what to think. It definitely was Nile, but the songs were not so memorable and I hated the new vocal style. I had troubles listening the album to the end, because I had the feeling some of the songs just drag forever. 
    So, long story short, I agree with the review. 

  • 2.0 – really, c’mon.  This album is a 3.0 and it is not as bad as you all indicate.  Holding a high bar for Nile is certainly understandable, but this is a slam fest on a good record.  It is not a bad record, it is quite good.  Is it as good as prior releases?  No.  But is it bad?  No.  Is it disappointing?  That is subjective, but I digress, your rating system indicates 2.0 is “disappointing” so if you are disappointed, then I guess that makes sense. I just dont see why this record is getting shit on like it is.  I like it and I listen to it quite a bit.  

    • Well, given that I hardly even enjoyed the album, I think a 2.0 is a totally reasonable score. 

      • You must have liked it some, considering you nominated Supreme Humanism of Meglomania as a Top Song ‘o The Year.  

        • I love that song. It’s super great. The rest of the record is very meh. 

  • Seems like I am one of the few people out there that like this album. Good songs, stellar musicianship and a really nice production. Way to go Nile!

    • It happens. Sometimes I love records that are universally reviled. 

  • Hurenhugo

    I don’t get all the hate this album is getting. Sure the guitars sound a little thin at times, but the album is enjoyable nontheless.

    And even though it’s pointless to fight about numbers, i have to say that 2/5 is an incredibly low rating for this album. I mean it’s just half a point above the score you gave Illud Divinum Insanus…

    I have a feeling “Angry Metal Guy’s Law of Diminishing Recordings™” doesn’t really exist. What does exist is “Hurenhugo’s Law of Diminishing Ratings™”… Fans’ and reviewer’s respect for a given band (and thus the ratings this band will get in reviews) are inversely proportional to that band’s perceived popularity.

    • Hahah.. well, you didn’t read my review of their last one. I like Nile genuinely and think this record is poor. It has nothing to do with the band’s popularity. Certainly Nile isn’t exactly a mainstream band or anything…

      • Hurenhugo

        I did, actually… but since TWTGD is my favorite Nile album, i was equally butthurt about your rating. It deserves at least a 4, man! You’re not being objective! (i’m kidding)

        But to get back to “Hurenhugo’s Law of Diminishing Ratings™”… The band’s actual popularity doesn’t even matter, it’s the perceived popularity that matters. And even though it may not apply to you and this particular review here, i’m sure you have observed my law in action many times… you even mentioned it in the first paragraph: it’s why trve guys only like debut albums. ;)

        • I never responded to this, but I think it bears responding to, even two years later. I can name bands who I think I like better now that they’re more popular: Katatonia, Nightwish. I even thought that Mayhem’s best material was their most “mainstream” according to the black metal crowd. I have no desire to slag popular or mainstream bands for being popular or mainstream. I genuinely don’t care. And I think if you look at my ratings, you’ll see that it has a lot more to do with the way that a band does specific things that I like or dislike.

          I appreciate the desire to protect a band that one likes. But in the case of Nile, I gave Ithyphallic (or however you spell it) a high rating and still love the album. They were already popular then and the whole metal community slagged that album. But I loved it. I thought it was fast, brutal, and they cut out all the fat.

          I suspect the fact that bands have pressure to produce is the reason that it seems like “popular” bands (or more accurately, bands signed to big labels) get shitty reviews. It’s because those bands are producing material on a different timetable and often with different expectations. I’ve heard stories from bands about what labels want from them. They want clockwork production: 1 new album every 2 years. Then a tour year. For me, it’s no surprise that the production of new material would suffer in that time.

  • Ronnie

    I mostly agree with the review, but the overkill of “appeasing Hitler” tripe really got on my nerves. That said, I think this is a very underwhelming, misfiring forgettable dud of a record. I’ve been complaining for a while that, for me, Nile’s sticking to the Egyptian theme has gotten really tired and old. After the very disappointing At the Gate of Sethu disc, I don’t think I’d be eager to buy future Nile albums, in a hurry. I’d go spin the Nephren-Ka, or AoTW albums instead..best two Nile albums, on my card.

  • ben

    Think I gotta stop reading reviews on this site. The critics see music through such a tiny, narrow scope. And then all you nut huggers jump on their dicks and start bouncing with enthusiasm.
    There are a few points I actually agree with, but to diminish a band like Nile because they are doing “nothing new”, is really a disservice. What they do, they do incredibly well. Take it or leave it. This album is on par with much of their earlier works. Sethu was a change in direction, and they got shit on for it. Now they go back to a more predictable sound, and they get shit on again.

    • So you don’t like all us nuthuggers but you then nuthug Nile whatever they do because it’s Nile? Okay.

      • ben

        Not at all. If they actually released a shitty album, i’d be the first to criticize. But they haven’t. The album is strong. This review is looking at the album in comparison to Niles discography, which I do understand. But I think a bands discography can sometimes diminish an otherwise fantastic album. I believe that to be the case here.

        • Well, that’s quite a different statement isn’t it? If you’re really that frustrated about the critics and the commentators that slinging shit about “narrow scope” “nut hugging” and “dick riding” is your first reaction, then you should really stop looking for what you’re looking here, whatever that is.