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Album Review: Nile – Vile Nilotic Rites

Nile are easily one of the biggest names in the death metal scene. They create music so strictly dedicated to one subject while embracing technicality and brutality to the point that anything they release is gonna be recognizable. Karl Sanders takes music writing to the next level, and while most of the time that helped him out, it can at times seem so loaded-up that it’s almost robotic. At least every Nile album offers something slightly different, and the newest one Vile Nilotic Rites is one hell of a disc to dissect.

It should come as no surprise that this is a very long effort (clocking in around fifty-five minutes), and you cannot go into it with the wrong mindset or incorrect setting. Don’t take that the wrong way, my favorite Nile record, 2009′ s Those Whom The Gods Detest is similar in that merit. It’s super long and a lot to follow. The difference is that Vile Nilotic Rites is just a bit too compact for its own good, even though the layout is less webbed, and the songs almost read like a poem when read in order (seriously, read the tracklisting out loud). However, once you’re over the density of it, you’ll find it to be serviceable and strong in construction.

For starters, the second half is dominated by three epics, the final three numbers. Two of the three are magnificent. “Where Is The Wrathful Sky” uses storming effects before trading off guitar tracks over blitzing drums that soon introduce a frenzy of speed-picking. Sanders’ signature drawn-out vocals take charge, and it’s also full of stomping bridges and lashing percussion clashes. “The Imperishable Stars Are Sickened” then injects a healthy dose of terror, being dense with wailing guitars.

This is where needing to pay attention and being in the mood comes in, because it all gets very overbearing. I mean it when I say zoning out for even a few minutes will have drastic effects, because it happened to me during a couple of the earlier tracks. You’ll wind up coming back to it, not sure what just happened, and I chalk this up to the earlier songs being a bit empty in memorability as compared to those later epics. Had those contained less high-standing moments, it could have been fatal. Opener “Long Shadows Of Dread” is an intriguing number, pumped full of whipping effects and chants, but the few following don’t hold up to it. This song’s style returns when we get to “Revel In Their Suffering,” capturing that same aura of an underground worshiping temple, roughly midway through.

Vile Nilotic Rites is all over the place as is with some great spots, some not as great spots, and lots to take in. The center is where the prettiest jewels can be found, though. Back to back tracks “That Which Is Forbidden” and “Snake Pit Mating Frenzy” unfold very pleasantly. Concise solos that jump out of the mix dominate them, all while being weaved into classic death metal chugs. The rhythm patterns also reach some of the greatest levels of technicality without overdoing anything and feeling robotic, like I mentioned earlier.

But in reality, I couldn’t say that this needs trimming simply because as tiresome as it can get, all parts are needed to complete the assembly. You still get your interludes invoking Egyptian instrumentation, you still get your over-the-top technicality, all complete with a taste of brutality and traces of hooks. Three epics at the end was a bit ballsy, but two of them certainly deliver. I’d like to say this is the greatest Nile album since Detest, but it’s also been a while since I’ve listened to Sethu or Unearthed. Give this a spin, and then give it another spin later on.

Vile Nilotic Rites came out on November 1st, 2019 through Nuclear Blast.

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