When bands replace key members of personnel, it can take some time for the new line-up to settle. First albums back can be cagey affairs as confidence and momentum are often exchanged for uncertainty and caution. However, what becomes clear almost immediately with Vile Nilotic Rites (Nuclear Blast Records), the latest offering from US Death Metallers and aficionados of ancient Egypt, Nile, is that no such problems exist here. Continue reading
Jarboe, or Jarboe La Salle Devereaux as she is known to her accountant, is also the other founding member of the legendary Swans. So, no pressure there, then. She’s also shockingly busy, with a looooong discography, and a new ambient/experimental rock album, Cut Of The Warrior (Translation Loss Records) out this month. But is it her swan song, or will it break this reviewer’s arm? Continue reading
Technical Death Metal legends Nile are hard are work creating what will become their new album, which will be their ninth overall. The album, which will be the first to feature new guitarist/vocalist Brian Kingsland, who replaced Dallas Toler-Wade (Narcotic Wasteland) last year, and will release on Nuclear Blast Records. Their last record was What Should Not Be Unearthed, which came out in 2015. Watch the band recording a new track in the video below. Continue reading
Nile recently announced that they parted ways with longtime guitarist/vocalist Dallas Toler-Wade, and will be moving forward with Brian Kingsland. Continue reading
Damn. This is a bummer. Nile has officially parted ways with Dallas Toler-Wade, and welcomes Brian Kingsland into the band. Continue reading
It’s a bit hard to fathom that Nile guitarist and mastermind Karl Sanders is still creating some of the unholy sounds in extreme metal at the age of 52. Other musicians at that age are releasing Lou Reed collaborations that only serve to undermine their legacies. Not Nile.
The Nile modus operandi on eighth studio album What Should Not Be Unearthed (Nuclear Blast) remains the same. Healthy doses of Egyptian mysticism and history (sample: “We must cut off the head of the Spinx. Timeless guardian of the ancient pharaohs”) with the occasional dash of Lovecraftian imagery set to the kind of searing death metal that recalls prime Morbid Angel. Maybe that’s why I have such an affinity for Sanders and his art, he was there to pick up the pieces when Morbid Angel was losing creative steam being dogged down by unsuccessful experimentation.
Experimentation is kept a very base minimum here as the album opens to aural punishment that is ‘Call to Destruction.’ We are then hit with the swift hyperblast one-two of ‘Negating the Abominable Coils of Apep’ and ‘Liber Stellae – Rubaeae.’ This is the kind of fiery death metal that hurts so good like Dying Fetus or early Gorguts. Also for the real tech heavy crowd check the finger cramping opening riff in ‘Evil To Cast Out Evil.’
But it’s not all fire and brimstone as death jams like ‘In the Name of Amun’ and ‘Age of Famine’ give way to breadth and dizzying tempo changes. Title track ‘What Should Not Be Unearthed’ also follows this pattern and allows for a real nice low and slow breakdown. And even when operating at a more gradual cadence, human drum machine George Kolias makes sure to load up the double-bass pummel.
In a genre where many of their peers are still spewing out murder fantasies and are fascinated with the undead, Nile stands out with a mix of intellectual lyrics and musical proficiency. If the prog fans and metal elitists can get past the death grunts and learn to love the blast beat they may just find a band fawn over other than Dream Theater.
“I’ve really become sick to death of where some bands have taken this idea of Technical Death Metal. What Should Not Be Unearthed (Nuclear Blast) is what I’ve been referring to as an “anti-technique” album. We are playing what’s generally called Technical Death Metal, but I see people playing songs that are composed of fast arpeggios, and tapping, and just a barrage of insane riffs that are all awesome, don’t get me wrong, but I walk away from it going ‘That was fucking awesome but I can’t remember a goddamn thing I just listened to’.”
Karl Sanders of Nile. is right. The death of the song, particularly in extreme metal, is a personal bugbear, as what made classic Death Metal great was that despite the raging, despite the brutality and extremity and full on technical ability of a lot of the greats of the genre, Death Metal used to be about songs. Many bands now are so concerned with showing off their flawless technique they’ve forgotten about “the song”. It’s a concept I remember speaking to Trey Azagthoth (a long-time friend of Sanders) back on the Formulas Fatal To The Flesh (Earache) tour, that technique is there to help you achieve the soundscapes and ideas in your head, but it should never be about how quick your fingers can flurry up and down the fretboard, how fucked-up a jazzy passage can be; unless it benefits the song, what is the point…?
“This album is anti-technique. I said to myself when I was writing “I’m not going to give a fuck whether this riff is hard to play, or whether it’s tricky or whether it’s simple or whatever the fuck it is, it doesn’t fucking matter. What matters is that it’s heavy, and I fucking like it. It might be a simple riff. It might mean it’s a tough riff. But the idea is the song is of paramount importance, and the riff is just a means to frigging get there.
“It’s automatically assumed, like a given in geometry – whenever you do a geometric equation, you start with a set of givens, they give you that, it’s bang, you gotta start there – being able to play your guitar is a given in technical metal; if you can’t play, you don’t get to walk through the door.
“So, this idea of anti-technique was mentally very liberating, it helped us to think “Let’s just write songs that fans will fucking appreciate, and we’ll have fun playing” and that’s the only concern we will go by.”
The Morbid Angel’s, the Death’s, even the Cannibal Corpse’s of this world possess or possessed some incredible musicians, but they all got to the status they did through writing great songs. It’s a shame that the skill seems to be getting lost in a flurry of arpeggios and syncopation.
“I don’t think it’s fair to the people listening to it. I think there’s a symbiotic, yin and yang relationship with the listener. For music to exist, someone has got to play it and someone’s got to listen to it. And if you don’t care about both sides of the equation, the shit will get out of fucking balance, and I think there’s been a lot of disrespect for listeners in recent years.”Nile. Photo by Hannah Verbeuren.
I recently had the joy of reading and reviewing ‘Choosing Death’ by Albert Mudrian. In it he highlighted that when Nile first burst on the scene, Death Metal was flagging. He mentioned you as the leaders of the Rebirth of Death Metal, and the band that helped “save” Death Metal… Did it feel like that at the time, was it an inspiration or the metaphoric albatross?
“It’s kinda like the Life of Brian movie. Brian is not actually a messiah, but everyone just thinks he is. We were just doing what we do, and for whatever reason, the wheels of fate were spinning, we found ourselves in a position where, even though we were at a point where Death Metal had died out, we were just playing what the fuck we liked. We didn’t care if it was popular or not, and had no thought of the bigger picture, or our place in it. So, we’re like the reluctant messiah.
“It’s like we opened the door, and the room was a mess, and we found a vacuum cleaner in our hands.”
Perhaps coming to the scene a bit later in life than some of their contemporaries helped to avoid producing the bloated, boring Death Metal of the late 90’s. Though Sanders was around, and knew many of the original greats, it wasn’t until a near decade after the birth of Death Metal that Nile became a serious entity…
“I think when you’ve lived a little bit of life, you look at things differently and see more. I’d seen enough of my comrades fall by the wayside. The road to your band getting somewhere is literally littered on each side with the wreckage of those who have gone before and failed. It’s easy to see other people failing, so by the time it was our turn, we could see enough to scare us into staying on the road.”
Death Metal, with reluctant saviours Nile a key part of its’ resurrection, is now as popular as it has ever been, particularly in terms of live tickets, and festivals often see acts like Carcass and At The Gates high up the bills. Yet where does Sanders see Nile? Are they one of the “historic” acts; a “classic” Death Metal band, or a current band?
“We see ourselves as still working hard to bring our music to the people, with still a lot of work to be done and places to go and still lots of things we want to achieve as a band. We had a very similar discussion the other day at a band meeting and it was decided we were going to play 6 songs from the new record. Maybe bands of our age, we’ve got 20 plus years as Nile, wouldn’t be saying that, they’d be saying which one or two songs of this new record should we play as we have to play all this old stuff.
“There are elements of our audience that will get angry if they don’t hear “that song”, and we respect that, and we realize that and do care about it, but we also care about staying vital and pushing forward.
“In life you have to walk with confidence, because how you present yourself is how people perceive you. So, if you want people to think your album sucks, don’t play it!”