Nile – At the Gate of Sethu (2012)

Few metal bands are able to weave two completely opposite styles of music into one, cohesive sound. Nile is one of the best examples of a group that has it down to a science. Karl Sanders and crew, the self-proclaimed progenitors of “ithyphallic metal,” have successfully mastered the art of blending ancient Egyptian music with modern death metal. At the Gate of Sethu, the band’s seventh studio album, further proves the band’s mastery of “ithyphallic metal” and is another fantastic album to add to their catalog.

At the Gate of Sethu is one of the most technical Nile releases to date. The guitar riffs and solos are generally fast, complex, and heavily influenced by ancient Egyptian music. As has been the case since 2005’s Annihilation of the Wicked, the standout performance on this album is George Kollias on the drums. Kollias’s performance on At the Gate of Sethu is demonstrative of exactly why he is one of the best drummers in the world. Throughout the album’s forty-seven-minute duration, Kollias rarely ceases his attempt to pummel the listener with absolutely ferocious blast beats.

While At the Gate of Sethu is largely enjoyable, it has its flaws. Most notably is the reduction of hardcore Egyptianry. While the riffs are influenced by ancient Egyptian music, as I mentioned previously, there are not as many atmospheric Egyptian passages as there have been on previous Nile albums. The lack of Egyptian-influenced ambiance detracts from the overall tone of the album and makes it less memorable than, say, Those Whom the Gods Detest.

Another minor issue I have with At the Gate of Sethu is the vocals. While they’re generally executed pretty well, there are times where they venture into the mid-range territory. They don’t necessarily sound terrible, but the incredibly low vocals from previous Nile albums sound much better. Additionally, there are “clean” vocals that sound slightly out of place on tracks such as “The Fiends Who Come to Steal the Magick of the Deceased,” the first single from the album. Nile has employed clean vocals several times in the past, but the clean vocals featured at several points on At the Gate of Sethu seem odd to me.

My last complaint about this album is the production, courtesy of Neil Kernon (who has produced every Nile album since Annihilation of the Wicked). The production isn’t necessarily bad, by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just very clean and polished. It lacks some of that signature Nile grit as well as a bit of heaviness. The production, however, is probably the least troublesome issue mentioned here.

All in all, Nile’s At the Gate of Sethu is a solid death metal release that showcases the skills of a very talented group of musicians. While it suffers from some minor flaws, it is still very much worth your time.

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By Mike O’Hara ~ Me Gusta Reviews