Nile- Ithyphallic (Nuclear Blast)
Moving past the considerably goddamned awesome cover art (as well as the unspeakably homoerotic album title), let's analyze Nile's newest full-length, and their first on Nuclear Blast Records. If I can say anything about Ithyphallic
, it's that it is most certainly a Nile album. The songs are about either Egypt or Lovecraft; some are slow and heavy, some are fast and blastbeat-laden. They aren't changing up their formula, but they also don't really need to. What they've done is tightened the screws and flawlessly executed something that only they can do.
Part of Nile's brilliance is the fact that mainman Karl Sanders doesn't just infuse his adopted homeland of Egypt into his lyrics, but into the modes and scales he chooses to write the guitar parts for the songs in. There are some inhuman runs on this album that you would never expect to be played by three long-haired dudes from South Carolina. On this album in particular, these African melodies can be found most prominently in "As He Creates So He Destroys" and the lightning-quick necksnapper "Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve Its Possessor Against Attacks From He Who Is in the Water", but damn near every song has some of that Egyptian influence.
This album does a great job of taking the two Nile styles: slow, marauding death metal and breakneck thrash death, and combining them effortlessly, often within the same song. For example, the brilliant title track, while consistently brutal, is at times among the fastest moments on the album, and at others downright doomy. Despite the song being titled for a word meaning "displaying an erect penis in a work of art", it is probably the album's highlight, including a necrophilia-promoting singalong in its outro: "Anoint my phallus with the blood of the fallen."
It also must be mentioned that Karl's solos are among metal's best when it comes to reflecting a song's mood. His solo to "Papyrus" sounds frantic, as though he is escaping the crocodiles that his lyrical creation is escaping, whereas, in stark contrast, the bend-obsessed, Gilmour-esque outro solo to epic album closer "Even the Gods Must Die" reflects the melancholy nature of that song. Karl Sanders is honest-to-God the most creatively vital guitarist in death metal today.
If you're looking for Nile to do something unexpected, Ithyphallic
ain't your album. If you're looking for incredibly technical death metal that never descends into jazz or self-indulgence, stop by your local record store immediately.