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Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka
Review by Allan on April 3, 2002.
In 1998 after a couple EP’s, Nile put out their debut album, “Amongst The Catacombs of Nephren-Ka”. After one album Nile was already a highlight in the scene, showing that there was still something new to bring to the table. Nile is often considered by some as the future of death metal. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know, but if it is we are all going to enjoy it.
Moving through eleven songs, “Amongst The Catacombs of Nephren-Ka” is a death metal assault with an Egyptian flavor. There are a few differences between this album and the bands follow up, “Blackseeds of Vengeance”, that I should mention. This album is definitely a lot more groove orientated. On this album also, the band strived to reach an atmosphere that would reflect their Egyptian influences. In my opinion, they didn’t quite reach the atmosphere they were striving for. They did get an atmosphere that worked, but it wasn’t what they were looking. Fortunately, this was all solved on the next release.
The musicianship is brilliant. Besides the obvious drums, vocals, guitars, bass approach, the band also brought in many interesting instruments. This includes choirs, human skull drums, bone flutes, Turkish gongs, etc. Drummer Pete Hammoura is amazing. He plays fast enough to fit the music, keeps the members together well, and uses enough variation to make him a standout drummer. Guitarist Karl Sanders does an astounding job. Awesome death metal riffs followed by solos at breakneck speed really fit the music well. Vocalist/Bassist Chief Spires does a creditable job. His death vocals have something about them that make them more noticeable. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but I like him more than most others. Overall, an excellent lineup and they do a great job.
The songs on this album are all very well outlined. Not only are they all different from each other, they’re all good. The album starts off with ‘Smashing The Antiu’, the hardest of all the tracks for me to get into. It took a few listens before it sank in. It’s quite complex and chaotic, as are all the songs on the album. 'Serpent Headed Mask' is a well-orchestrated song varying between fast playing and slower more atmospheric parts. This is the same as the next track, ‘Ramses Bringer of War’, which starts out with awesome drumming. ‘Die Rache Krieg Lied der Assyriche’ is an excellent interlude between songs, which uses choirs to fit in well with the Egyptian themes. ‘Pestilence and Iniquity’ is extremely well done and very memorable. The closing is awesome as well, and shows the band using a bit of a different approach by using clean guitars and combining it with heavy parts. From beginning to end, this album is full of great listens.
Bottom Line: In the overcrowded death metal scene, it’s great to see a band do something of unique. “Amongst The Catacombs of Nephren-Ka” is a great death metal album that should be heard by all. Whether is up to par with their follow-up is up to the listener.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 8 out of 10