Nile - At The Gate Of Sethu
I've long considered Nile to be at the absolute forefront of death metal; their unique bridging of the genre's standard sound with Egyptian mythology and musical experimentations has long been a refreshing and impressive benchmark. With each successive album, Nile has become that much more vital in my opinion, managing to breathe enough creativity and progression to avoid becoming a stale entity. Recently, the band dropped their seventh album, At The Gate Of Sethu, to typically upbeat praise from fans and critics. While it is altogether along the same lines as their past efforts, one can establish that frontman Karl Sanders has endeavored to inject more of his traditional Egyptian musical ideas (witnessed in his outstanding solo albums) into the core of Nile's death metal assault.
At The Gate Of Sethu feels more organic than past releases, as the ambience and Egyptian-styled musical interludes can be found scattered all across the record, from dedicated tracks to intros, outros and bridging accompaniment. This does tend to mildly dilute the actual death metal Nile is known for, but ultimately it creates a far more engaging musical experience. "Enduring The Eternal Molestation Of Flame" is a smart opening track, light on the excess and heavy on the heavy. It always seems that Nile up their musical aptitude from album to album, but it has always been true that the band has been one of the best at their craft, and there is no audible slacking off from that. The shifting, serpentine structure of "The Fiends Who Come To Steal The Magick Of The Deceased" is a prime example of expert songwriting, while "The Inevitable Degradation of Flesh" is a relentless pummeling of the senses. as blunt as it gets. "When My Wrath Is Done" is immense despite it's short length, and "Slaves of Xul" offers a frightening atmosphere that thickens the plot considerably. The back half of the record is teeming with outstanding material, most noteworthy the tracks "Tribunal Of The Dead" and the expected epic conclusion of "The Chaining of the Iniquitous"
In a previous review, I stated that there has yet to be a Nile album I'd consider ranking below 4.5/5, and At The Gate of Sethu continues that trend for this reviewer. While there may be more technically proficient, or more streamlined and accessible death metal out there, no band can combine both skill and creativity in the genre like Nile is capable of. Their past five records have been monuments of metal in general, and At The Gate of Sethu is yet another in one of the most impressive metal discographies ever crafted.
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