Nile - Black Seeds Of Vengeance
Relapse Records
'Ithyphallic' Death Metal
12 songs (42:49)
Release year: 2000
Nile, Relapse Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

For some reason, Nile’s second album generally seems to be regarded as inferior to the others, perhaps due to its unenviable position between what are seen as two classics of the genre, 1998’s Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka and 2002’s In Their Darkened Shrines. It’s certainly not as immediate, having neither the instant catchiness of Amongst nor the Doom-ridden unpredictability of Shrines. Having said that, give it time and you’ll see that there is catchiness and a distinct atmosphere to it, albeit hidden behind a veil of darkness.

If you’re new to Nile, then you’d be best starting anywhere but with Black Seeds as, even more so than its predecessor, the production is as murky and rotten as the sarcophagus on the cover. Nile have never been the sort of band that likes its music squeaky-clean, and indeed it would do it no favours, but on first attempts this album is very close to a Blackened sort of sound. Of course, this is great for those like myself who appreciate the band more for its epic and ancient atmosphere than the double-bass blasting and twisty riffing. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy the band’s skill, far from it; I just feel that Nile is at its best when whipping up a sandstorm of brutality so grimy that you can practically taste the grit in your teeth – this is Death Metal, after all! 2007’s Ithyphallic was a disappointment to me in that respect, seeming poor after the brilliant mixture of dark atmosphere and excellent songwriting on Annihilation Of The Wicked, in my (alas, little-shared) opinion the band’s greatest achievement to date.

Black Seeds is quite clearly an important step in the band’s evolution from Relapse-birthed Grind to the Ithyphallic Death Metal of today. It’s not the first to feature the ethnic elements that made its forefather an underground hit, but it is the first to use an intro piece rather than go straight for the throat, and although it’s rather a cliché for Nile these days, back in 2000 the uncanny echoed voices and actual (not synthesized, surprisingly rare even today) Middle-Eastern flute-like dirge of the argoul on the gloriously titled Invocation of the Gate of Aat-Ankh-Es-En-Amenti opened the tomb doors to some very dark music indeed. The title track kicks in with barely a breather, a furious torrent of technical riffs and rumbling growls that twists and turns over its three-minute-odd length, before exploding into an epic chorus. The scourge of Amalek is upon you, and for the next forty minutes you’re at its mercy!

Defiling The Gates Of Ishtar continues in much the same manner, very tight, very technical, with a break towards the end for a group-chanted incantation, which makes the sudden reappearance of the music that much more brutal. The Black Flame continues the atmospheric approach before a slow-paced riff sounding almost like the one in ShrinesSarcophagus starts to weave its magick, the sudden blast of speed waking you up again. If you’re not hooked this far in the album then you really shouldn’t be listening to Death Metal…

Another short interlude piece passes by, marking the closure of the first chapter of the album, and then - it happens. Masturbating The War God is one of, if not the, finest pieces of Death Metal that Nile has produced. Constantly changing yet crushing you unceasingly, shifting between brutality and catchiness without flaw, this is the highlight of the album. Cheesy and laughable though it may be, I can’t help but picture the terrible beauty of Ancient Egypt whilst listening to this track, the wordless choir in the last minute or so joining me in my awe, before the demonic growls of the band (all four members of whom performed vocals on the album) bring me back to reality like an overseer’s whip cutting into my back.

Just when you though that things couldn’t get any more intense, the band cast you even further down with Multitude Of Foes, at just over two minutes one of the shortest songs on the album, but more than enough is packed into those two minutes to make it worthwhile. Apparently taking an entire year to write, this is one of the most technical songs on a highly technical album, and is staggeringly impressive. It’s a pity it’s not longer, really, as it fades away into a morass of screams and serpentine riffs you get the feeling that it could easily have gone on for another ten minutes.

The following songs continue the high standards shown so far, especially the short, sharp shock of Chapter For Transforming Into A Snake. It goes without saying that both Karl Sanders and Dallas Toler-Wade play their hearts out on the album, Derek Roddy providing a superb background battery, whilst Chief Spires, who would leave the band after this album, is the cause of that uncanny distant bass rumble.

It’s the nine-minute To Dream Of Ur that stands out towards the end of the album, an epic march that’s so engrossing that it doesn’t seem half as long as its length. Two more atmospheric pieces, The Nameless City Of The Accursed featuring middle-eastern singing with rhythmic ‘respirations’ and percussion over it, and Khetti Satha Shemshu, which is just the words in the song title group-growled repeatedly over more rolling percussion. It’s an effective way to end the album, even if on its own it grates.

As previously mentioned, this isn’t recommended for a newcomer to Nile’s pyramid-shaped world, but if you’re well-travelled in the lands beyond that infamous river, then you should already own Black Seeds Of Vengeance. Highly recommended for all lovers of Death Metal.

Killing Songs :
Black Seeds Of Vengeance, Defiling The Gates Of Ishtar, Masturbating The War God, Multitude Of Foes, To Dream Of Ur
Goat quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Nile that we have reviewed:
Nile - Vile Nilotic Rites reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
Nile - What Should Not Be Unearthed reviewed by Kynes and quoted 78 / 100
Nile - At the Gate of Sethu reviewed by Tony and quoted 86 / 100
Nile - Worship the Animal - 1994: The Lost Recordings reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Nile - Those Whom The Gods Detest reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
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