Nile Black Seeds of Vengeance

When North Carolina's Nile released their Relapse debut on an unsuspecting public in 1997, they took the entire metal world by storm. That first album, Amongst The Catacombs of Nephren-Ka, took Egyptian imagery and laid it against some of the most brutal metal this side of Morbid Angel's awesome debut (1989's Altars of Madness). For their follow-up, the band had nowhere to go but up, Karl Sanders explains. "We wanted to explore [the Egyptian imagery] further and implement it on a more intrinsic compositional level. Even the whirlwind blasting guitar riffs are derived from Middle Eastern-based melodies and rhythms." Indeed, Black Seed of Vengeance is full of blasting guitar riffs and jackhammer drumming that catapults forward some of the most brutal American death metal to ever be released. It almost seems like the band was striving to become the fastest, most intense band around, although Sanders does not see it that way. "It wasn't really that intentional to become a faster or more brutal. We had grown as musicians and our need to achieve new challenges led us to explore more demanding realms of musical expression." Black Seeds... certainly fills that bill. After mentioning to Sanders that the record was a little too brutal and perhaps lacked the atmospheric elements that made the first record so classic, he quickly rushed to its defence. "I admit, there is a lot of brutally heavy music on this album and perhaps, at first, some people might not catch all the subtle aspects just because they are overwhelmed with the hyper blasting and over-the-top drum fills." It does take a few listens to hear what Sanders talks about, but subsequent listens have helped the subtle intricacies of songs such as "Nas Akhu Khan" and "Invocation of the Gate" shine through and have made me realise this is one of the top five metal releases of the year. (Relapse)