Nile – In The Beginning

This is a nice little release which neatly showcases Nile in an even more primitive form than on their ‘Beneath The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka’ debut album.  You could actually confuse the first five tracks on this compilation for a rather progressive breed of death/thrash at times; the vocals are lighter, the riffs not as complicated as their later material, and the atmospheric, Egyptian portions cheesier than ever.  It’s probably Nile at their least pretentious (which is still pretty pretentious), so it has a certain charm to it that’s missing on most other Nile releases.  It’s nice to hear the band before they TOTALLY exploded.

The first five tracks are the real meat of this disc.  Coming from the ‘Festivals Of Atonement’ EP from 1995, they showcase Nile in probably the most primordial state that most of us will ever hear.  The songs are only slightly technical and are quite close to oldschool, traditional death metal in construction.  Drumming is less fill-laden and the riffs aren’t as ornamental, with some sections being reduced really to their barest elements as opposed to latter Nile’s philosophy of ‘if a note can be added, add it immediately’.  Egyptian-type scales are lightly used but probably more effective due to their subtlety instead of being clubbed over the head with them on albums like ‘In Their Darkened Shrines’.  People who are infatuated with later Nile are likely to find these tracks too slow, too simple, and not Egyptian enough, but I find the restraint to be a rather pleasing feature.  It’s not incredible music, but it’s strongly written with many memorable riffs and is worth listening to.  They give a funnily raw interpretation of later Nile elements such as sprawling track lengths and clever riff construction.  I like them a lot.

The following three tracks aren’t really as impressive, coming from the ‘Ramses Bringer Of War’ EP featuring three tracks that would be later rerecorded for ‘Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka’.  They’re good, although they do show signs of some of later Nile’s more dubious characteristics.  There’s not a substantial difference between these tracks and the versions that would appear on the band’s debut album; they’re somewhat simpler and don’t have as many instrumental flourishes, and the production is of course not as full, but for all intents and purposes, they’re the same.  Consider these bonus tracks more than anything; ‘Festivals Of Atonement’ is the real meat of this release that you’ll be coming back to repeatedly.

While only the first five tracks are particularly consequential, I’d say that this compilation is worth picking up for them alone.  Alongside ‘Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka’, this is a worthwhile release for oldschool death metal fans who’ve never been able to understand the fuss over Nile on the basis of their later material.  This isn’t their strongest, being a bit rawer and prone to wandering like a lost puppy in the longer tracks, but it has very solid songwriting and a more humble delivery which would make it more palatable to traditional death metal fans.  Not as essential as ‘Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka’, but still worth a look.

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~ by noktorn on September 7, 2008.

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