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Black Seeds Of Vengeance

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Black Seeds Of Vengeance
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Type: Full-Length
Release Date: September 5th, 2000
Genre: Death, Technical
1. Invocation Of The Gate Of Aat-Ankh-Es-En-Amenti
2. Black Seeds Of Vengeance
3. Defiling The Gates Of Ishtar
4. The Black Flame
5. Libation Unto The Shades Who Lurk In The Shadows Of The Temple Of Anhur
6. Masturbating The War God
7. Multitude Of Foes
8. Chapter For Transforming Into A Snake
9. Nas Akhu Khan She En Asbiu
10. To Dream Of Ur
11. The Nameless City Of The Accursed
12. Khetti Satha Shemsu


Review by Nathan on January 6, 2022.

If you wanted to be a pedantic hairsplitter, you could argue this is where Nile’s “true sound” began. Arguably, Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka still had many holdovers from Nile’s thrashy, primitive embryos blended into an Ithyphallic soup. Black Seeds Of Vengeance is the point where the 80s influences are phased out, the tech and fretwork are amped up, and the emphasis shifts to the ancient Egypt influences instead of the riffs. The original Morriah lineup has imploded, with Sanders already being the only original member remaining on album 2. Even with a near-monopoly on a niche angle of death metal, Nile felt the need to substantially evolve and re-work their sound this early into their career.

It’s surprising how different this sounds in comparison to Amongst The Catacombs because of how little their sound evolved from Black Seeds Of Vengeance onward - essentially all of the style changes in the 21st century could be classified more as subtle tweaks and polishes rather than massive upheavals to the approach. At the time, this probably sounded like a huge step forward for a band that already raised a fair deal of intrigue. Toler-Wade’s presence in the riffing can be felt in the increased frequency of those trademark walking guitar lines, or at least I assume it’s his influence because the debut was comparatively all about the groove. His entrance into the lineup is also the point where Nile started to integrate the Middle Eastern scales into the actual death metal riffing.

Black Seeds Of Vengeance has a muddy, cluttered production compared to its predecessor, with the grinding amelodic low end and the papery snare tone taking up most of the foreground during the extreme sections, all accented by the mind-numbing speed and maximalism of the drumming. Derek Roddy has given some great performances in the past, and he has a level of speed and chops that Hammoura's thrashier, more straightforward base couldn't keep up with, but this is where he started to lose the map - likely through no fault of his own, mind you, more because of what the songwriting forces him to do. I actually had to triple check to make sure it wasn’t Tony Laureano on this one because Roddy fits a similar mold, and not in a good way. The fill masturbation isn't quite as bad on Black Seeds Of Vengeance, but it's pretty damn close.

The over-indulgent blasting, necessary as it is, strips the riffs of their dynamics, turning the faster sections into an unmemorable blur. Something that the onus falls more on Roddy for, though, is the music’s inability to raise intrigue with the rhythms and flow of the sparser moments. Even though the songs seem to punctuate every single repetition of a riff with a drum fill, they still somehow can’t smoothly transition between themes. Most of the songs on the album (especially the longer ones) will abruptly segue into an ambient moment without any sort of lead-up or signal that they’re about to arrive, almost always causing them to fall flat.

Not only are the abundant fills obnoxious, Roddy'’s tendency to stop in such a sudden and jarring fashion when an orchestral part comes in contributes to the atmosphere on Black Seeds Of Vengeance feeling shoehorned and tacky. It’s perplexing why Karl Sanders’ first solo release has so much quality unused material from the writing sessions for these albums and somehow the boring-ass progression that is 'Libation Unto The Shades' made the cut. Their range of motion feels too limited, like they were trying to re-create the ominous feel of extreme metal with a different approach, forgetting what made the melodies in the parent influences appealing. If they sound more like actual Middle Eastern music and less like an imitation of it, it would go a long way towards making this album more convincing.

While there is more blending of sounds being done on Black Seeds Of Vengeance, it somehow makes the sound simultaneously more flat and inconsistent. Each riff is often simultaneously a build and a climax, being far too busy while always feeling like the best is about to come. Any tempo drops that do occur are staggering and awkward as Roddy desperately tries to slow his limbs down like a runaway train, barely succeeding. It’s the first example of Nile being a child painting a picture that doesn’t know when to put down the brush - never quite satisfied, adding colors, blending everything until it’s all various shades of yellowish-brown, a superfluous mess. The end result is something that is confusing, sloppy and barely recognizable when held up to the original product. Simply put, Black Seeds Of Vengeance has some potential, but it’s a complete fucking mess. There’s still a lot of kinks to iron out at this point.

Rating: 4.1 out of 10

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Review by Yener on June 12, 2019.

One thing is for certain; Nile do not mess around. With this being just their second release (the first was Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka) Nile have returned to pulverize our senses once again with first class, no nonsense death metal. But that is only just half of the story. 

The group continues to progress in their Egyptian sound and style. They have evolved a lot since Catacombs.. and the thought of that is kind of frightening. The addition of a new guitar player (Dallas Toler-Wade) has just added strength to their strength. If you thought main man Karl Sanders had skill, you were probably right. The good news is that Karl has found a perfect partner to help him in his crime. 

Another notable fact is that drummer Derek Roddy played all drum parts on the album, with the exception of 'To Dream of Ur' on which Pete Hammoura played on-their original drummer. The reason being that Pete suffered some kind of technical injury, and Derek had to take his place in the studio. Nile would have to search pretty damn hard to find someone better than Derek to fill in for the studio spot, as he delivers a jaw-dropping performance on this album. 

The album kicks off with a short instrumental song that sets the mood perfectly for what's truly about to begin. The title track is next in line, and you can almost instantly notice a smoother, cleaner production than on Catacombs. The band is tighter, faster, and even more brutal than on their previous release. 

'Defiling the Gates of Ishtar' features more melodic riffs and more adventurous drum playing. The end of the song is graced by some ancient chanting, which instantly takes you back in time. Track four, 'The Black Flame' starts with a very interesting vocal intro performed by Karl Sanders. His vocals are deep and reach battering sub-bass levels. The vocal technique present here is very like the technique used by the Tibet monks. 

'Libation unto the Shades who lurk in the Shadows of the Temple of Anhur' is the title of the fifth track-another instrumental piece based upon an ancient harp melody played on a gut-string classical guitar. The monk-like vocals near the end makes the overall effect a lot more dramatic. Which sets us off to what I consider to be chapter two of the album, lead by 'Masturbating the War God', and followed up by 'Multitude of Foes' written by Dallas Toler-Wade. The riffs are devastatingly fast, and the drums seem to be even faster. Some quick tempo changes (such as the intro) and a lot of rhythm changes all seem to fly by in less than two minutes. 

If I were to be asked what my favorite song off this record was, it would be a hard choice. But I would most likely choose track eight, 'Chapter for Transforming into a Snake', which has pure genius written all over it. The riffs twist and turn and are highly melodic and memorable. They tend to stick in your brain almost as soon as you hear them. The drumming in this song is simply unreal. Derek Roddy blasts his way through intensely fast rhythms, somewhere along the lines of 261 beats per minute. 

'Nas Akhu Khan She En Asbiu' and 'To Dream of Ur' are both very interesting listens. I read somewhere that the band used close to 120 tracks in the recording of the latter song. You can hear what I mean once the song starts to work its way into the two-minute mark. There is so much to hear here-it's almost impossible to make it all out with just a few listens. It's kind of hard to listen to if you don't like the concept of Nile, as it can seem a bit too much. Overall, I consider this song to be a benchmark in Nile's history and sound. 

The eleventh song off of the album 'The Nameless City of the Accursed' was inspired by a H.P. Lovecraft tale. It's also notable that every song on this album was inspired by a true story, with the exception of some. The lyric sheet goes over each song one by one as Karl Sanders explains the meanings in his songs-where they were inspired from, where the lyrics date back to, which exotic instruments were used-everything. All this makes you think that this is not just some record by an ordinary death metal band. It's intelligent metal which unfortunately not many people will be able to understand, as you have to be a musician or greatly involved with music. Only then can someone fully appreciate what the guitars, drums, bass and vocals are saying, what they're doing, and what they represent. 

'Khetti Satha Shemsu' is the perfect closer for what seems to be a perfect album. There are only chanted lyrics and percussion. The overall effect makes you feel that you've just witnessed something very special, something that doesn't seem to happen very often. I'm not sure if the band knew the greatness of this record while they were making it, but I'm sure they know now. Most people listening to this genre of music know it as well. Highly recommended… more than just about anything if this is what you love to listen to.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

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Review by ChadL on May 4, 2002.

This is surely one of the most involved and utterly amazing death metal (or any kind of music for that matter) albums ever. I’m not going to write a whole review for this, because everyone has already done a great job of dissecting this mammoth piece of metal.

Personally, I think that the best track is ‘Chapter For Transforming Into A Snake’. This song is AMAZING!!!! It is so incredibly brutal, yet very deep and atmospheric. This track doesn't have an intro, or a slow progression leading into the onslaught, it gets right into it!!!! Every riff in this song is genius, and my entire body trembles when the guitar solo starts, and then the rhythm guitar goes into an amazing cascading riff that perfectly fits with the solo... This is musical perfection. This song is reason enough to buy the album!! Of course all the other song rule as well, but ‘Chapter...’ is something special to me. In fact, every time I listen to this album, I put that song on first, then when it’s over, I start the album proper.

Okay, here is my only gripe with the album: The Production. To me, it seems to have too much low end. The album just comes off sounding kind of, hmmm what’s a good way to describe it? Suffocated is about right. There is a lot of emphasis on the low end, that it sometimes covers the guitars and other instruments. To me, I think this album would be perfect if it had the production of their previous album "Amongst The Catacombs..." But, since I’m the only person I’ve ever heard complain about the production, maybe it's just me!

Bottom Line: An essential purchase.

Musicianship: 10
Originality: 10
Atmosphere: 10
Production: 9.8
Overall: 10

Rating: 9.9 out of 10

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Review by Luka on May 3, 2002.

I’ve never been a big fan of death metal but after only two spins of this CD I declared that, without doubt, “Black Seeds of Vengeance” is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard in my life! Put on one of those massive round earphones, turn it up, cut the lights and focus all your attention on Nile and let the death metal storm sweep you 4000 years back to a plane of temples, pyramids, serpent-gods and human sacrifice. This is insane and mind-warping music, the band’s gift for creating dark and distant atmospheres is frightening!

The talent and every member’s capability of the most masterful musicianship here is phenomenal: I have never heard faster rhythm-guitar or drums, for example, nor the two played together with such precision and tightness. Forget about Dimmu Borgir or Emperor or other bands credited with powerful and extreme music, Nile would bury them in a second. From beginning to end this dark masterwork will keep you in a mesmerizing state of ancient, timeless terror.

The key to Nile’s creative genius lies with the fact that every aspect of their music has a purpose. The death metal scene today is overpopulated with bands that have no clue what or who they’re supposed to be. Growling and singing generic bullshit about grinding up corpses and impaling women... what a fucking joke. Originality and purpose is the key to everything. Every lyric on “Black Seeds” has meaning and historical background. Verses like “Khetti Satha Shemsu” are left in the original language and taken from ancient Egyptian books, some dating to 2350 B.C.! Now that’s fucking creepy! And the singer’s deep, guttural bellow of the ancient incantations sound like angry whispers of an evil god or pharaoh. The true stories of slaughter, human sacrifice and ancient rituals are perfectly adapted to the death metal primer and while most of the music is extreme and downright violent, constantly accenting the overwhelming death metal blizzard is Nile’s trademark “Egyptian sound” and atmosphere created by guitars or traditional, ancient instruments. This album leaves me speechless.

Bottom Line: My humble opinion asserts that this is the best death metal album in existence!

Originality: 10
Musicianship: 10
Atmosphere: 10
Production: 10
Overall: 10

Rating: 10 out of 10

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Review by Jack on September 14, 2001.

Never in my whole life have I ever been scared of a CD. Nile’s “Black Seed of Vengeance” completely horrifies me. Nile create such a mood of Egyptian history and mythology, that the producers of ‘The Mummy’ and ‘The Mummy Returns’ should have just played Nile instead of their box office smashes at the local cinemas, such is Nile’s charismatic melodies.

Nile is brutal, hard and damaging death metal. There is probably no other way to describe this band. “Black Seeds of Vengeance” is Nile’s flag ship (or pyramid if you like), heavy and incorporating every Egyptian sounding noise imaginable, from the instrument known as an Argoul (a double reed oboe), to Tibetan monk’s choir and chants by Egyptian locals. Authentic is one word that springs to mind.

Obviously with such Egyptian musical influences, Nile’s lyrical topic would be based round Egypt history as well. Titles such as ‘Defiling the Gates of Ishtar’ and ‘Nas Akhu Khan she en Asbiu’ are overly indicative of this, in fact if each track was dissected individually one would know that just by the title Egyptian influences would be prevalent.

‘To Dream of Ur’ is one of the longest death metal tracks I’ve ever heard of, clocking in at nine minutes and is also one of the best on the album, thrusting all Egyptian connotations, instruments and chanting into one epic track. It departs slightly from Nile’s standard form of death metal, in it being quite slow and the music sounding directionally misled in a way, blasting drums by Pete Hammoura hammer over the top of Egyptian tinged music and create awesome melody with all vocalists that Nile use.

I can not recommend “Black Seeds of Vengeance” strongly enough, if not for the music, but also for the painstaking efforts obviously put into this record to create such fantastic moods.

Bottom Line: Downright disturbing music, Nile constantly creep me out. “Black Seeds of Vengeance” is an absolutely great themed album. Death and heaviness reign supreme.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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