Nile - Vile Nilotic Rites
Nuclear Blast
Death Metal
11 songs (54:54)
Release year: 2019
Nile, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

Still remarkably consistent in their twenty-sixth year of existence, Nile are a death metal institution and Vile Nilotic Rites proves it anew. Karl Sanders is now the only original member with the departure of Dallas Toler-Wade in 2017, new guitarist Brian Kingsland (Enthean) making for a solid replacement if perhaps one with a little less personality in his voice than Toler-Wade? It's a narrow judgement that only the fussiest of death metal devotees could really make, and there's nothing wrong with Kingsland's growl but the result in both voice and riff-production is a step sideways from what Nile faithfuls have come to expect. That's not necessarily a bad thing as Vile Nilotic Rites proves with the band's most diverse and interesting album since 2009's Those Whom the Gods Detest. It's far closer in style and quality to that or Annihilation of the Wicked than the less interesting and more uniform bluntness of, say, What Should Not Be Unearthed, taking more risks, indulging more in atmospheric sojourns and even allowing hints of melody to poke through a little more.

Which is necessary because there is work to be done around the edges to stop the Nilotic (better than Ithyphallic, at least) formula from becoming stale - another fairly dull pyramidal-based piece of artwork and song titles that long since shot past the point of self-parody to name just two. Still, the music counts most, and the music is still tremendous. Opener Long Shadows of Dread lives up to its name with an ominous yet brief burst of ambience before snarls and riffs assault you, a typically technical beatdown unafraid of breaking down with backing bell tolls, Nile immediately proving that they're as solid as ever before the hellish battering of The Oxford Handbook of Savage Genocidal Warfare (sigh) takes things leftwards. It's the first sign of new blood in the band, notably injecting a dose of modern tech-death into the band's veins to terrific results, riff-focused and savagely single-minded in its assault. This spirit is continued through the choppy, aggressive title track and into first epic Seven Horns of War, which hearkens back to Unas, Slayer of the Gods in its orchestral grandeur, an intense and technical death metal beast for the first four to five minutes before breaking down into an ambient vocal and effect-led interlude, horns and yells leading a section that would be cinematic were it not for the death metal riffs underpinning it. And yes, Unas, Slayer of the Gods is still better than Seven Horns..., but credit to Nile for trying to reforge grandiosity in this way and succeeding if not surpassing.

Their entire career could be summed up in that way, if you wanted to be unkind. But Nile invented this distinct style that few can even approach (Behemoth closest if we have to pick an heir, but the Poles are still a long way from the crunchy violence on show here) and they are still brilliant songwriters. There's not a weak track present especially on the album's second half, heralded by the doom-infused tones of That Which Is Forbidden, the band's Lovecraftian themes taking the lead over the Egyptology for once as the vocalists growl and snarl about hidden formulas that allow them to hold untold innocent worlds hostage and so on! This is ably broken into when it suddenly ends five or so minutes in by the sub-three minute grinding of Snake Pit Mating Frenzy, a terrific spiritual successor to such past glories as Multitude of Foes and Churning the Maelstrom; a lean, completely fatless thirty-minute EP or album of brief Nilotic blasters like this is more than within the band's grasp, and it would be incredible if they indulged us in this way...

Not that the longer, more flamboyant pieces are worse, by any means. After inevitable interlude Thus Sayeth the Parasites of the Mind (just make another solo album, Karl, we do honestly love them!) Where is the Wrathful Sky comes along like a particularly good Soulfly track with plenty percussion, acoustic widdling, and chanting alongside the typically excellent guitar riffs. It could perhaps be a little more out-there, but by the time such thoughts have crossed your mind you'll be partway into the album's second epic The Imperishable Stars Are Sickened, another meaty riff-driven piece that again makes good use of the new vocalist's death metal leanings, before delightfully throwing some clean singing and spoken word in beneath the riffage. Nile could stand much more of this sort of thing; come on, get guest power metal singers in, let's have Tobias Sammet or Mats Levén in for some deranged yet undeniably awesome bursts of song amidst the maelstrom! Not that the closing misanthropy of We Are Cursed isn't awesome, but that guest vocal spot on Kafir! hinted at how much further the Nile sound could be pushed and it would be good to see the shackles cast off altogether. In the meantime, Vile Nilotic Rites is a more than excellent excursion for South Carolina's favourite sons and another great Nile album.

Killing Songs :
The Oxford Handbook of Savage Genocidal Warfare, Seven Horns of War, Snake Pit Mating Frenzy, The Imperishable Stars Are Sickened
Goat quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Nile that we have reviewed:
Nile - What Should Not Be Unearthed reviewed by Kynes and quoted 78 / 100
Nile - At the Gate of Sethu reviewed by Tony and quoted 86 / 100
Nile - Worship the Animal - 1994: The Lost Recordings reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Nile - Those Whom The Gods Detest reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
Nile - Black Seeds Of Vengeance reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
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