We've waited and waited and it's finally here : the new Nile. The wait was 110% worth it. 'In Their Darkened Shrines' is good. As in REALLY GOOD. I'm sure Nile were under huge pressure to try to top their past albums, but somehow they have composed something truly stunning. It's better than all of their old stuff, it's better than 'Black Seeds Of Vengeance', and it's better than 'Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka' which I used to think was their greatest album. This is one of THE BEST Death Metal CDs I've ever heard.
The beautiful cover art first graced my eyes when I tore into this masterpiece. The image of a snake coiled around an Egyptian object set on the background of hieroglyphics looks great, with the only identifying text being the song titles printed on the back. The slipcover alone is worth the price of the CD. One side contains the lyrics to the songs, the other side contains descriptions of the songs. Nile go into great depth and detail explaining exactly what the core idea and mythology behind each song is, which provides a great read while listening to the album. I thought this was a really nice touch to the CD.
'In Their Darkened Shrines' starts off with a triumphant cry, seeming to celebrate all that Nile has overcome, and then goes straight into the Egyptian-Death Metal brutality that makes Nile so different from other bands. From reading the lyrics to hearing all the different ancient musical instruments used in the music, it is obvious that Nile have a deep obsession and interest with the Egyptian history. Each song tells a different story, either fictional or based upon actual ancient Egyptian texts. 'Unas Slayer Of The Gods' tells the story of Unas, who kills and devours his enemies to gain their powers. Unas then goes into the afterlife and devours the Gods themselves, gaining ultimate power and control. Nile have done a great job on the stories and lyrics here, one of the few bands to keep me enthralled in the lyrical aspect of Death Metal.
This album drips with ambiance and atmosphere. The first few songs are perfect examples what Nile can do and a perfect way to start out this album. "Execration Text" shoots out fast and never slows down, while "Sarcophagus" is a slow, pounding song that draws you deep into the Egyptian feel of this CD. But the song that everyone is talking about is "Unas Slayer Of The Gods", which may be Nile's finest work to date. An epic 12-minute masterpiece showcasing everything amazing about Nile. While borrowing from "Gothic Stone", a song written by Doom Metal band Candlemass (it can't be just a coincidence, go give them both a listen), this song still contains Nile's originality and technicality (from slow acoustics and engulfing war horns to breakneck blastbeats and grinding) to make it the BEST SONG OF THE YEAR. Fuck, this song is damn good. Also, "Churning The Maelstrom" is a fast-as-fuck song, my neck hurt so bad after headbanging uncontrollably to this song.
The final four tracks are actually separate chapters to the final song, "In Their Darkened Shrines", about a rebellion against the Pharonic rule by raising the dead. The four songs flow seamlessly into each other, leading up to the crushing finale and instrumental final track. Guitarist Karl Sanders reigns supreme on this track, as well as throughout the entire album.
Nile easily keep you immersed in the instrumental work of 'In Their Darkened Shrines'. Only Sanders is left from the original Nile line-up, with newcomers Dallas Toler-Wade and Tony Laureano being welcomed into the band with this album. Every member is listed as contributing to the vocals along with two additional guest vocalists, but the differences are minimal, which isn't a bad thing at all. The vocals on this album rules, the deep and menacing growls fit perfectly with the music. Tony's drumming is fucking insane on 'ITDS'. Some have even said this may be a groundbreaking album for Death Metal drumming. The speed and the endurance Tony has is amazing, going from fast-as-hell tom fills to tribal drumming to swift cymbal work. Dallas' bass playing is more than adequate for the music, but Sanders dominates this album. His technical playing on the guitar is unstoppable, he isn't contained within the Egyptian theme, but enhanced by it! Solos seem to be simply unleashed at will during a song, with a speed going in every direction at once.
I've listened to 'In Their Darkened Shrines' many times, with many more times to follow. It's the best Nile CD and one of the best Death Metal CDs ever. Some say Nile are simply riding a gimmick, but if 'ITDS' doesn't convince you otherwise, you are an idiot. To those who said Death Metal was dead, to those who said Death Metal is just 'screaming and noise', to those who said Death Metal is 'worthless with no point', Nile have proven them all wrong with this album. 'In Their Darkened Shrines' is a masterpiece, it would be extremely difficult for any other band to overcome it for "Album Of The Year".