Nile – In Their Darkened Shrines

‘In Their Darkened Shrines’ is an irredeemably horrible album on numerous levels, all of which I feel the need to explore in hopes of making Colonel Sanders feel the shame I feel while listening to this, the nadir of his musical career.

Let’s begin at the most unimportant but nonetheless painful aspect: the murky production, yet another step down from ‘Black Seeds Of Vengeance’, which transforms even the most lucid sections into a meaningless jumble of perpetually confused notes.  It’s greatly similar to the production of Hate Eternal: messy and claustrophobic with a goal of heaviness, and when that goal is thought to be reached, there’s no clue on the part of the producer what else to do.  The instruments just sort of brutishly mash against each other in a demented mockery of what is supposed to be ‘intelligent’ death metal.

Perhaps, though, it fits the equally confused and muddy songwriting.  Nile finds themselves on this album at the precise crossroads where neverending masturbation and total boredom meet and coalesce into something that’s both frightfully pretentious and stunningly dull.  The pretense is divided into two parts.  First and most obviously are the fast death metal sections laced with meaningless guitar theatrics.  In a similar way that every color put together results in an indistinguishable brown, or how very fast things eventually become a monotone drone, these fits of extreme technicality are eventually no longer recognizable as anything other than a hand moving up and down a guitar neck very quickly; no patterns of clever riffcraft can be found and the experience is rendered meaningless as a result.  The second and more insidious breed of pretense is when Nile attempts to conjure some specter of atmosphere, generally through chanted vocals, overbearing keyboards, or slow tempos.  While those three items might be ingredients that can be used in an epic piece, in this case it’s like trying to paint using the brush jammed squarely into your fist.  The result is clumsy, awkward, and vaguely embarrassing for all parties involved.  It totally lacks subtlety and seems more like an effort to ‘sound Egyptian’ through carefully painting by numbers rather than using a hint of inspiration.

Riffs manage to be everywhere and nowhere at once; it’s hard to distinguish between notes in the faster and melodically tighter sections due to the murky production, and on the occasion that you can properly hear a riff in full, there’s nothing to be excited about.  An Egyptian-sounding scale is occasionally whipped out in an attempt to spice up what otherwise is totally bland and uninteresting technical death metal, but the results of that action are predictably cheap and trite-sounding.  Vocals are a passionless, monotone growl that is always present due to the excruciatingly verbose lyrics.  The vocals are simply another sound that adds to the noise of the record, contributing nothing of meaning to the work.  On the lyrics: apparently it took two years to compose the lyrics to this album, and it certainly doesn’t show at all.  Beyond the subject matter, what is so significant in these lyrics?  Sanders does nothing but regurgitate the Egyptian mythos without adding anything to the meaning of the stories, showing just how paper-thin the novelty of this band is.

The drums are perhaps the biggest crime, really, though I suppose considering the rest of the music I can hardly blame them more than anything else.  Like on ‘Black Seeds Of Vengeance’, they’re almost exclusively composed of very fast blast beats constantly broken up by technical fills.  ‘Constant’ is not hyperbole; it seems that Tony Laureano can’t go for five seconds on this album without feeling the need to grind things to a halt with tom or cymbal runs.  It manages to reduce the amount of natural flow this album has from zero into negative territory; it actually makes you feel discombobulated after you turn the CD off.  Which, if you have any taste at all, is before it even enters your stereo.

This has no redeeming qualities.  It is garbage.

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~ by noktorn on September 27, 2008.

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