Nile - _Annihilation of the Wicked_
(Relapse Records, 2005)
by: Jackie Smit (
Consider the following hypothesis: Nile are to death metal what Metallica were to thrash. Now, I realise that this probably sounds very far-fetched, particularly to anyone who has witnessed the self-indulgent, neutered spectacle of "Some Kind of Monster", but from a broader perspective I believe it bears weight. Reverse back to 1983 and the release of _Kill 'Em All_; a record which hardly reinvented the metallic wheel, but rather tinted an existing formula which had previously been engineered by Motorhead and countless NWOBHM acts to the point where it could be regarded as a bona fide step forward. Can anyone argue that _Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka_ impacted upon death metal in the same manner? Move on to _Ride the Lightning_ -- a record which upped the ante in not only sheer heaviness, but also song structure, composition and pretty much every element you can imagine. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you its death metal counterpart: _Black Seeds of Vengeance_.I would hope that by now I would have at least a few naysayers starting to see where this course of reasoning is coming from, because for my money _Annihilation of the Wicked_ is without a shadow of a doubt Nile's
_...And Justice for All_. In fact, just sitting through the first track proper in "Cast Down the Heretic" illustrates my point entirely. As was the case with Metallica's fourth effort, _Annihilation of the Wicked_ is instantly more progressive; songs are generally much longer than anything we've ever heard from the band, with no less than three of the album's tracks eclipsing the eight minute mark. At the same time, the record strikes one as more easily penetrable, and for veterans of any Nile record it may initially come across as being simplistic even. Yet repeated listens provide ample evidence to the contrary, as layer after carefully constructed layer is stripped away on numbers like "Lashed to the Slave Stick" and the epic "User-Mat-Ree". Likewise, the Egyptian sampling has been scaled down to an extent, and yet the record's atmosphere is darker and more haunting than anything Nile have put their name to thus far.The crux of all of this is that, as with _...And Justice for All_, the argument can be raised that _Annihilation of the Wicked_ could well be Nile's undisputed coup de grace; a point which I would personally tend to agree with. It's heavier, more focused and overall just more gripping than any of its predecessors, which is saying a lot considering the praise that has been lavished on the band in the past. But whether you agree with my analogy or my opinion, there's one fact that leaves little room for argument in the face of a record such as this: Nile have almost certainly succeeded in living up to the hype once again, and in the death metal genre right now there are very, very few acts who could ever even hope to operate at their level.
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