NILE - In Their Darkened Shrines (RELAPSE LP 2002)
I wasn’t first thinking about writing review of yet another Nile album, but that changed when I started listening to “In Their Darkened Shrines”, which is a third full length from this American death metal band. Two things came to me mind, after first few spins of this vinyl. First thing was that Nile is in my opinion the strongest and most important US death metal band ever since Morbid Angel has done their A-D albums. And my second thought was that “In Their Darkened Shrines” definitely belongs to my favourite Nile albums and it is as good – who knows, maybe in some aspects it’s even better – as “Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka”, which used to be my number one. So, I started writing few words on it.
It’s such a spectacular and damn well composed album that it’s hard to imagine it can get any better than this! It’s fantastic that the brutal and technical aspect of death metal, which became Nile’s trademark, on “In Their Darkened Shrines” became even denser and more ferocious and that they managed to increase the quality level again. Fast parts sounded even faster. It all sounds sooo brutal, but better written than before, with amazing dual work of Karl Sanders and (then new in the band) Dallas Toler-Wade. And the characteristic Nile’ish monumental, epic parts with orchestral passages are some of the best, which this band has ever recorded. There’s also more of them than ever before. It seems like Nile decided for “In Their Darkened Shrines” to be their most immense and epic album, with songs like “Unas, Slayer of the Gods”, “Sarcophagus”, “I Whisper in the Ear of the Dead” or the truly spectacular quadrilogy of the title track. These songs alone make me think of the whole album as the best Nile effort, even better than almost perfect debut album.
Really, every song here is a beast. I love these fast and technical tracks, with amazing precise playing (fantastic drumming of Tony Laureano and killer guitar duel of Karl and Dallas) and such a powerful sound. They fuckin crush with no mercy and really blow the speakers out. I suppose “The Blessed Dead” is the best from them all, it’s such a great song. But also such “Kheftiu Asar Butchiu” leaves no listener careless. But as said, the main strength of this album lies in these epic songs. “Sarcophagus” is simply a masterpiece of epic, orchestral death metal. “Unas, Slayer of the Gods” is probably the best song Nile has ever written. This 12 minutes long beast has everything fans of this band love – there are thick, brutal parts, slow pieces, orchestral arranges and heavy stuff. And it’s been arranged and performed in the most spectacular and impressive way I’ve ever heard. And the title track, which is split on four parts, brings exactly the same feeling.
Yeah, I can speak only in super positive words about “In Their Darkened Shrines”. This is one of the best death metal albums ever written and I dare to say that Nile will never manage to surpass its excellence. Although I do hope I am wrong haha!
Standout tracks: “The Blessed Dead”, “Unas, Slayer of the Gods”, “Sarcophagus”, “I Whisper in the Ear of the Dead”
Final rate: 95/100