NILE - Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka (RELAPSE - LP 1998)
Technical, modern brutal death metal?? Absolutely not my cup of piss. So how come that I really like Nile and most of their albums are so damn good, in my opinion? No idea, but there’s something special about this American band what makes me think that their music is not just tiresome brutal and unmemorable piece of guitar masturbation with deep growls. Obviously Nile music is technical, fast and brutal, but they do remember about good songwriting, about having some catchy, memorable riffs or melodies. They are able to create special atmosphere in their music, by adding intros or symphonic parts, which are really well suitable to the entire (ancient) Egyptian concept. And they do are high class songwriters. So, I do like to shred some Nile records once in a while. And from their whole discography I still consider “Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka” as one of my real favourites.
This was obviously first Nile album I’ve ever heard. And back in the end of the 90’s this LP was like a breakthrough for the death metal scene. It was special, because new band came up with original sounding and exceptional death metal and crushed the scene, which back then was so much focused on black metal (or its symphonic parody). What I like about “Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka”, especially when compared to other Nile albums, is that this is their most straight forward and punching album of all. The length of these songs is much shorter (well, the whole albums I rather short, with barely 35 minutes on the clock!), their structures are not so complicated and the whole record is relatively easy to listen to, especially as it has some intros or keyboards that underline the whole concept of ancient Egypt is such a good way. Their tight and precise riffage and vocals are very brutal, the music is mainly fast, but it’s really damn great dose of adrenaline and aggression, it has a very nice powerful feeling and when played loud, this album unleashes enormous dose of energy. Right from the first song “Smashing the Absu” this is just a relentless punch in the face, absolutely phenomenal death metal in one of the strongest and most original performances ever.
Nile pure death metal songs catch attention, but the epic, bombastic symphonic pieces gives something special and absolutely amazing to the whole “Amongst…”. For example the opening theme of “Ramses Bringer of War” is something extraordinary and truly spectacular. It sounds like the most heroic and epic death metal theme ever. I can say the same about “Stones of War” (what a great slower song, so massive and heavy!!!) – and this is exactly why this album doesn’t sound like a typical boring and unlistenable technical death metal album. Because there’s something more about it! Finally you have “Die Rache Krieg, Lied der Assyriche” – which is probably one of the best songs I’ve ever heard in my life. I love it, even if it’s not a metal song, but something what would fit perfectly a bombastic movie soundtrack, with its infectious choruses, rhythms and keyboards.
We all know how important is the Egyptian concept for Nile. Unlike the future albums, the lyrics for “Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka” have no liner notes and explanations. But I’ve found this description of the album’s title on Wikipedia, so I guess it would be nice to put it here, as it gives a small idea of what the album is all about:
“The title of the album is a reference to the H. P. Lovecraft story "The Outsider". The phrase is featured in the song "Beneath Eternal Oceans of Sand" which has lyrics paraphrased from the aforementioned tale. In Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, Nephren-Ka was an Egyptian Pharaoh whose unspeakable cult worship led him to be stricken from almost all Egyptian records. The catacombs where he is buried are referenced in several Lovecraft stories as well as many stories by other mythos authors.”
Standout tracks: “Smashing the Absu”, “Ramses Bringer of War”, “Stones of War”, “Die Rache Krieg, Lied der Assyriche”
Final rate: 90/100