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Sunday Old School: Nile

History is a subject which may have bored many people in school, but even those who dozed off during lessons will agree that along with the occult and war, it makes for one of the best topics for heavy metal. Motorhead for example has written several songs about famous wars, as well as an album entitled, "1916," while Iced Earth took things further with a concept album about the American Civil War. Iron Maiden approached the culture of ancient Egypt on their fifth album, "Powerslave," and other bands have touched on it too. But for one band, this wondrous civilisation was to inspire not only their lyrics, but their album titles and even their name. Far away from the Pyramids, in Greensville, South Carolina in fact, this band came to life, under the moniker, Nile.

The group emerged from the remnants of a thrash metal band called Morriah, who achieved success locally and were able to perform some shows with the then emerging death metal champions such as Morbid Angel. After their dissolution in the early nineties, member Karl Sanders decided to form a new, heavier band, joined by bassist and vocalist, Chief Spires and drummer, Pete Hammoura. Their first release came two years after forming, with the 1995 EP, "Festivals of Atonement," which was distributed via their own label, Anubis Records. It circulated strongly and helped them to build up enough of a fan base to support the likes of Obituary and Deicide amongst other death metal giants.

Nile soon began catching the attention of bigger record labels too and signed a deal with Visceral Records to release their next EP, "Ramses, Bringer of War," in 1997. It wasn't their strongest work but was again able to increase their profile, a good thing too, as Visceral soon went out of business and Relapse Records picked the band up, giving them a release for their first album, "Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka." The record took its title from the H.P. Lovecraft story, "The Outsider" and fared very well, both amongst death metal fans and critics. The songs were mostly short and sharp, a noticeable difference from their later works and is regarded as one of the best albums of the late nineties, gaining enough of a reputation to have an achievement named after the album on the big selling game, "Civilization V."

It proved to be Nile’s sole album with Pete Hammoura, who left the band by mutual consent after touring for the debut, as a result of a rotary cuff injury he had sustained on the road. Instead, the group brought in session drummer, Derek Roddy for their next studio effort, "Black Seeds of Vengeance," which was released in the year 2000. The album was not quite as well received as, "Catacombs..." but was notable for being the first to include new member, Dallas Toler-Wade, a guitarist and vocalist who would soon become the main vocalist of the band, following the departure of Chief Spires only a few months the sophomore effort’s release, leaving Nile to recruit a new bassist, who would come in the form of, Jon Vesano, as well as a new drummer, Tony Laureano.

These two new members would make their recording debut with the band a year later, on the 2002 release, "In Their Darkened Shrines." It was on this album that the more epic, almost cinematic approach crept in, especially due to twelve minute opus, "Unas Slayer of Gods" and the four part title song, as well as bringing elements of world music to the sound. It was perceived as a step up from their last outing and brought in a larger fan base, as did their fourth album, "Annihilation of the Wicked," released in 2005. It once again marked the first appearance of a new member, this time George Kollias, who replaced Tony Laureano on drums. The record featured the song, "Sacrifice Unto Sebek," for which a music video was produced, as well as the lengthy title track and the longer closer, "Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten."

A year later, Nile made the move from Relapse Records to the German label, Nuclear Blast, with work on a new album beginning soon afterwards. The resulting album, "Ithyphallic" was released in July 2007, though some fans were able to hear the record two weeks in advance if they solved a hieroglyphic puzzle on the Nuclear Blast website. It turned out to be worth the relatively short wait, earning great reviews and becoming their first album to enter the Billboard Album Charts, peaking at number 162. Perhaps frustratingly for record cover designers, the single from the album was long winded named, "Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve Its Possessor Against Attacks from He Who Is in the Water," the first single in their career and one which spawned a music video as well.

The success of the album meant that as well as being booked for Ozzfest, they were able to embark on headlining tours of both North America and Europe, bringing with them upcoming bands like Suicide Silence, The Faceless and Warbringer amongst others. They followed up on these treks with yet another successful album, "Those Whom the Gods Detest," released in November 2009. It didn’t sell as well as its predecessor, but peaked two places higher on the Billboard Charts at number 160. It was the only album to feature bass player, Chris Lollis who was replaced in 2012 after three months of complete silence.

As a result of his disappearance, Nile recorded their next album as a trio, as they had done several times earlier in their career and once more, the result was a success. The album, "At the Gates of Sethu" was released in the summer of 2012 and received solid reviews, as many fans expected. It was able to reach number 131 on the Billboard Charts and boasted art work from Septic Flesh vocalist and bassist, Spiros "Seth Siro Anton" Antoniou.

It’s now been three years since their last release and fans will no doubt be clamouring for another output of near Eastern flavoured brutality. Many death metal bands emerged in the late nineties, but perhaps Nile are one of the few and the proud who will stand the test of time as one of the second wave of death metal legends after the likes of Obituary and Cannibal Corpse.

Nile - "Serpent Headed Mask"

Nile - "To Dream of Ur"

Nile - "Sarcophagus"

Nile - "Lashed to the Slave Stick"

Nile - "Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve Its Possessor Against Attacks from He Who Is in the Water"

Nile - "Permitting the Noble Dead to Descend to the Underworld"

Nile - "Enduring the Eternal Molestation of Flame"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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2 Comments on "Sunday Old School: Nile"

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1. Ginnie Moon writes:

Thanks again for another great Old School Sunday! Seeing Nile live were some of the best shows I ever saw in my life. As great as they are in the studio, hearing them live has always been an absolutely transformative experience!

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Senior News Correspondent

2. Diamond Oz writes:

You're welcome Ginnie, thanks again for reading!

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