Nile – Those Whom the Gods Detest
Rating: 3.5/5.0 — An excellent album, but doesn’t quite live up to Ithyphallic
Label: Nuclear Blast (EU | USA)
Website(s): nile-catacombs.net | myspace.com/nilecatacombs
Release Date(s): EU: 06.11.2009 | USA: 11.03.2009
Nile has long been one of the few brutal death metal bands, in that sort of Hate Eternal vein that I’ve ever been a real big fan of. They have, probably due to the judicious use of their musical talent, been able to make a type of brutal death metal that is interesting and varied enough that it doesn’t feel like a waste of time to listen to. Actually, that’s the understatement of the year. These masters of grindy death metal have produced some of the most memorable death metal albums of the modern death metal era starting in earnest with their classic record Black Seeds of Vengeance in 2000, but continuing through to today. 2007’s masterpiece Ithyphallic made my top 10 list and I have been greatly anticipating my chance to listen to the new opus, entitled Those Whom the Gods Detest.
I’m going to assume while I’m writing right now that there aren’t many in the crowd who haven’t at least heard one Nile album, and at this point you probably know what to expect from these guys. Since Black Seeds of Vengeance, Nile has crafted their sound into a well-honed attack which combines modern brutal death metal, with it’s blasting, trem-picking and brutal growls, with Egyptian scales and modes. Then, you blend this sound, which is brutal as hell but still very melodic and fun to listen to, with lyrics about all things Egyptian and a lot of great instrumental and soundscape pieces using middle-eastern instruments and rhythms. This formula has served Nile very well since its inception and continues to serve them well today.
Those Whom the Gods Detest is actually a bit of a new thing for the band because it’s basically a discussion of who the Gods detest, and that is pretty much non-believers. Now, death metal guys have been attacking religion since the 1980s, and they were outdone by black metal a long time ago, right? But Nile has something new here, which is pretty much that they attack all religions and they do something that still feels edgy, and were it actually heard by an Islamic extremist would probably be Fatwa-inducing. The lyrics are excellent, and they denounce the existence of all gods and call all religions bullshit, basically. This was extremely well done and I personally enjoyed the lyrics from the opening track on the album very much: “There is no God but God / There is no God but the One True God / There is no God but the hidden God / There is no God! / There is no God! / There is no God!” They go through all of these commandments from a bunch of different religions and still end on that line: “There is no God!” And then they follow it up with a man singing “Allahu akbar.” I am not often moved or interested in death metal lyrics, but this was a lyrical triumph.
While Ithyphallic was a kick in the teeth, fast out of the gates with hardly any fat, Nile have added a lot of the Black Seeds of Vengeance/In Their Darkened Shrines-style interludes to this record, which is something I could probably do without. While I love this band, I think they’re at their best when they don’t drag things out too much. Instead, Those Whom the Gods Detest is almost the most progressive Nile record yet. Not tech in the traditional kind of death metal sense, but instead a lot more slow parts with acoustic parts and strange time signatures have started seeping in. Not that these things don’t have their place, but it feels like it drags down this record in a lot of places that Ithyphallic shone.
This record is, without a doubt, a great record, however. Nile continue to show that they are one of the most interesting and original death metal bands in the game today. Of course, over time a band falls into a rhythm and Nile is certainly in that rhythm, but this album doesn’t suffer from it. In fact, Karl Sanders is an excellent song-writer and this album shows that, but I miss the quick release and simplicity of the last record. Still, Those Whom the Gods Detest doesn’t fall very short of expectations. It is, indeed, an excellent album.