Music / Nile
Nile is a Technical Death Metal
band from South Carolina, USA, founded in 1993. They have a Egyptian theme (hence the name), and many of their lyrics deal with Ancient Egyptian history and mythology. They also use themes of Lovecraftian
- Worship the Animal (demo, 1994)
- Festivals of Atonement (EP, 1995)
- Ramses Bringer of War (EP, 1997)
- Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka (1998)
- Black Seeds of Vengeance (2000)
- In the Beginning (2000, compilation of the Festivals and Ramses EPs)
- Born (2002)
- In Their Darkened Shrines (2002)
- Annihilation of the Wicked (2005)
- Legacy of the Catacombs (2007)
- Ithyphallic (2007)
- Those Whom the Gods Detest (2009)
- At the Gate of Sethu (2012)
- What Should Not Be Unearthed (2015)
- Karl Sanders: guitars, vocals
- George Kollias: drums
- Brad Parris: bass, vocals
- Brian Kingsland: guitars, vocals
- Dallas Toler-Wade: vocals, guitars, bass (1997-2017)
- Chief Spires: vocals, bass (1993-2001)
- Jon Vesano: bass, vocals (2001-2005)
- Joe Payne: bass, vocals (2005-2007)
- Chris Lollis: bass, vocals (2007-2012)
- Todd Ellis: bass, vocals (2012-2015)
- Pete Hammoura: drums, percussion, vocals (1993-2001)
- Tony Laureano: drums (2001-2004)
- Addled Addict: Chris Lollis' issues with pills got him fired from both Nile and Lecherous Nocturne and have left his life in shambles.
- A God Am I: Invoked in "The Supreme Humanism of Megalomania".
- Always Night: The liner notes for "Annihilation of the Wicked" say that Afu-Ra's boat, and by extension the sun, actually navigates around Seker's kingdom rather than attempting to sail through, because of how difficult the navigation through darkness would be.
The dominion of Seker
Barren desert of eternal night
- Atheism and Anarchism: The song "Godless" (found on Festivals of Atonement) explicitly advocates the former and can also be read as advocating the latter ("Άθεος ανάρχας" translates as "atheist anarchy", and the song also includes the lyrics "No law of man or god / No chains of servitude / Bind me to the unjust").
- Audience Participation Song: A lot of their songs, most prominently "Black Seeds of Vengeance," and "4th Arra of Dagon," where, during the outro chants of the songs, the band will often step away from the microphones and chant along with the crowd and will often invite fellow musicians from other bands on their tour packages to come onstage and participate as well.
- Badass Boast: User Maat Re is essentially one big boast telling of Ramses II's "amazing" accomplishments, including the boast that his legacy will last a million years. The trope is subverted in that Ramses feels that his father still views him as being unworthy of his legacy. Considering that we still know him as "Ramses the Great" might lend a bit of appreciation to his contributions, however.
- This makes more sense when you understand Ramses' throne name "User Maat Re" ("Strong is the Justice of Re") was corrupted by the ancient Greeks into "Ozymandias", which Percy Bysshe Shelley turned into the trope namer for Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!.
- Badass Bookworm: Karl Sanders is a walking encyclopedia of Egyptian mythology and history. He even has a personal library filled with Egyptology books.
- Bald of Awesome: Dallas since 2009.
- Beneath the Earth: "Von unaussprechlichen Kulten" features lyrics about this.
- Big Fun: Karl.
- Bilingual Bonus: Discussed in the liner notes for "Von unaussprechlichen Kulten". Karl notes that the English (Nameless Cults) and German (Unaussprechlichen Kulten) translations of the book's title, as conceived respectively by Robert E. Howard and August Derleth, members of H.P. Lovecraft's circle of collaborators, don't precisely match with each other. He lists the literal translation of "Unaussprechlichen Kulten" as being "Unpronounceable Cults", appropriate for a (fictional) book that concerns itself with the followers of Eldritch Abominations whose names were beyond humanity's ability to correctly pronounce. (other sources note "Unnameable" and "Unspeakable" as other viable translations for Unaussprechliche(n), all of these again being appropriate given the subject matter). He also notes that the name "Unaussprechlichen Kulten" is actually grammatically incorrect in German, and even notes a debate he had with himself over whether to stick to this incorrect name or add the German word "Von" (Of) to the front of the name, which would make it correct. (Clearly, he went with the correct version).
- Came Back Wrong: "The Essential Salts" describes how to turn a dead body into the eponymous salts and bring the dead person back to life. Unfortunately the salts sometimes get contaminated, resulting in "something that is part man and part whatever gnawed his corpse".
- The Cameo: Ross Dolan laid down some vocals for "Khetti Satha Shemsu", although it can be pretty hard to hear given the nature of the track's vocals. Ross (along with Bob Vigna) also helped inspire the extensive liner notes that Karl has included on most albums beginning with Black Seeds of Vengeance (which closes with "Khetti").
- Control Freak: Dallas, apparently. The idea to just have the guitarists track the basslines was his, as he wasn't confident in the ability levels of any of the post-Vesano bassists aside from Parris (who joined after What Should Not Be Unearthed was recorded) and was apparently also very nitpicky and perfectionistic.
- Doom Metal: In addition to their technical blasters and epics, Nile usually has about one or two death/doom metal songs per album.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Sanders' vocals on the earliest material sometimes sound more like the vocals of James Hetfield on '80s Metallica records than the death growl we're used to. One could make a convincing argument that significant portions of Worship the Animal have more to do with Thrash Metal than with Death Metal. It's also not as heavy as their later stuff, but it's still plenty technical.
- Eldritch Abomination: Of both Egyptian and Lovecraftian origin.
- Epic Rocking: Songs like Unas Slayer of the Gods, Annihilation of the Wicked, and Even the Gods Must Die, which is fairly uncommon in death metal (though, obviously, not so uncommon in Progressive Death Metal).
- Taken to an even higher level with the four-track, 18 minute title suite from In Their Darkened Shrines.
- Fate Worse than Death: This seems to be quite common among the band's works, as it was among the Egyptian view of the afterlife. Can sometimes reach And I Must Scream levels.
- Fire and Brimstone Hell: This is how some parts of the afterlife were seen by the Egyptians; the song "The Burning Pits of the Duat" is a nice expression of this.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble:
- Karl: choleric
- George: melancholic
- Brad: sanguine
- Brian: phlegmatic
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The song "Kafir" has a rather amusingly blasphemous play on the Muslim prayer:
"There is no god but God! There is no god but God!"
"THERE IS NO GOD but the one true God! THERE IS NO GOD but the hidden God!"
- And in case the above lines weren't clear enough, next up is
THERE IS NO GOD! THERE IS NO GOD! THERE IS NO GOD! THERE IS NO GOD!!
- Godzilla Threshold: "Evil to Cast Out Evil"
- Gorn: Like many death metal bands, their lyrics sometimes feature very graphic descriptions of death, mutilation and the torture-filled afterlife.
- Which makes it extra creepier because they actually did that back then.
- The song "Masturbating the War God" takes the two words that form this trope and mix them to their logical conclusion, featuring captive women of conquest being impaled upon the "massive stone member" of the aforementioned God statue, along with some other details that won't be repeated here.
- The song "Ithyphallic" also has highly gorny lyrics, specifically "anoint my phallus with the blood of the fallen"
- "Ithyphallic" even means "with an erect penis".
- The song "Cast Down the Heretic" feature some pretty nasty lyrics as well, involving smashing of vertebrae, vomit, dismemberment, and the immolation of internal organs.
- The song "SSS Haa Set Yoth" mentions "violent sexual atrocities of which none dare speak" being perpetrated by nightmarish reptilian precursors.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Karl Sanders is known being quite the hothead.
- Horrible History Metal: Almost exclusively.
- I'm a Humanitarian: The narrator of "The Black Hand of Set"
- Eat of the Dead
- "Unas Slayer of the Gods" is an almost word-for-word transcription of the "cannibalism texts" of Pharaoh Unas' tomb, wherein the graphic depiction of him murdering and consuming the entrails of the gods is found.
- Instrumentals: They usually have a few of these per album. Most often they are significantly lighter than the surrounding fare and have an Egyptian flavour, but sometimes they do metal instrumentals as well (the closing movement of "In Their Darkened Shrines", "Ruins", is an example of a Doom Metal-flavoured instrumental by the band).
- The Klutz: George Kollias, at least when it comes to coffee. The man apparently has an uncanny knack for spilling it.
- Lead Bassist: In spite of their revolving-door nature and frequently questionable lineup status, all of their bassists have been Type Bs.
- Lead Drummer: Original drummer Pete Hammoura was part of the band's Vocal Tag Team.
- Long Title: Let's see...
- Black Seeds of Vengeance has "Invocation of the Gate of Aat-Ankh-es-en-Amenti" and "Libation Unto the Shades Who Lurk in the Shadows of the Temple of Anhur".
- In Annihilation of the Wicked, there's "Dusk Falls Upon the Temple of the Serpent on the Mount of Sunrise" and "Chapter of Obeisance Before Giving Breath to the Inert One in the Presence of the Crescent Shaped Horns".
- Ithyphallic brings us "Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve Its Possessor Against Attacks From He Who Is in the Water".
- And in Those Whom the Gods Detest, there's "Permitting the Noble Dead to Descend to the Underworld", followed by "Yezd Desert Ghul Ritual in the Abandoned Towers of Silence".
- And At the Gate of Sethu is no slouch either, including "The Fiends Who Come to Steal the Magick of the Deceased", "The Gods Who Light Up the Sky at the Gate of Sethu", and "Natural Liberation of Fear Through the Ritual Deception of Death". If anything, Nile is very explanatory in their song titles.
- Oddly enough, this is thoroughly averted by their Epic Rockers - their titles are all five words or less. In fact, the band's first two epics, off the Festivals of Atonement EP, both had one word titles - "Wrought" and "Extinct". Meanwhile, "Invocation of the Gate..." and "Dusk Fall Upon the Temple..." are both acoustic/ambient intro tracks to their respective albums, and come out under one minute apiece, and many of the other straight examples are three minutes or less.
- Loudness War: Most noticeable on Those Whom the Gods Detest and its VERY loud drum parts; the album was mastered by War criminal Erik Rutan. Also, listen to just about any acoustic section from Darkened Shrines onward - they tend to be brickwalled to about the same volume as the actual death metal parts.
- Metal Scream: Type 1 for Dallas, Type 2 for Karl. Brad Parris is also a Type 1, while Brian Kingsland is both a Type 1 and a Type 2 depending on whether he is doing a part from Vesano or Dallas.
- Miniscule Rocking: They do a good bit of this, too. Most (but not quite all) of their ambient/acoustic interludes are under two minutes.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: While most of their songs hover around 10, some of their more overtly Middle Eastern songs can get quite low on the scale. Worship the Animal is probably also mostly in the 8-9 range.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: Every bassist they have had since Jon Vesano has fallen victim to this to some degree. Chris Lollis, Todd Ellis, and Brad Parris have at least technically been full-time members despite having never appeared in promo photos (save for Parris, who has) or recorded anything (despite the fact that Lollis was around for two separate recording processes), but Steve Tucker, Christian Lofgren, and Joe Payne were all strictly live session players. Granted, the former two were both only around for a tour or two each, but the latter was in the band from 2005 until at least the beginning of the Ithyphallic recording process in February of 2007, when he was fired for undisclosed reasons. This was apparently mostly due to Dallas, who didn't trust the abilities of most of their bassists and came up with the idea to have them sit out the recording sessions; with him out of the picture, Brad Parris has been making writing contributions and will be tracking his own parts on their upcoming full-length.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Invoked in the instrumental "Ethno-Musicological Cannibalisms"; Karl says in the liner notes that he intentionally combined different instruments and styles that weren't "supposed" to go together.
- Nobody Loves the Bassist: Jon Vesano was an integral part of the band. Ever since he left, they've been through a fairly large amount of bassists, most of them hired guns for live sessions, with only Christian Lofgren, Chris Lollis and Joe Payne having received any sort of recognition due to their work in Lecherous Nocturne (as well as being the driving force of the band in the case of the former) and Divine Heresy, respectively (and the drug trafficking arrest of the latter in 2012, where he was caught with $26,000 worth of marijuana, as well as three handguns and $5,000 in cash). It's especially egregious when you consider that Lollis was around for the recording of Those Whom the Gods Detest and At the Gates of Sethu, but didn't lay down any tracks; like all post-Vesano albums, Karl and Dallas just did the bass tracking themselves. This has changed with Dallas' departure, however, as Parris has moved to the center of the stage and does a substantial amount of the vocal parts, and he is also participating in the writing process and will be tracking his own parts on their upcoming full-length.
- Ominous Egyptian Chanting: "Khetti... Satha... Shemsu..."
- Pintsized Powerhouse: Karl and George.
- Protest Song: "Call to Destruction" was explicitly intended to decry the destruction of pre-Islamic artifacts while at the same time portraying the rationale for doing so through the eyes of an Islamic extremist who sees them as blasphemous and subversive.
- Rasputinian Death: "Cast Down the Heretic". While the exact details of Akhenaten's execution are not known, Karl reasoned that it wasn't rocket science to assume that his death at the hand of the Amen-Ra priesthood (which had been forcibly dissolved during his reign) was likely extremely gruesome, violent, and drawn-out.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The best example of this trope is Annihilation of the Wicked:
Hideous reptiles of terrifying aspect.
Whose work is nothing less than the annihilation of the wicked.
On their blocks,
They cut into pieces the flesh of the dead,
Singing hymns of torture and mutilation to their master.
Accompanied by the wailings and anguish of the damned.
- Revolving Door Band: For a while, as Karl and Dallas went through myriad drummers and bassists before finally settling on Kollias for the former, though this trope is still very much in effect for the latter (though their status as full-time members has been questionable ever since Jon Vesano left; Payne was explicitly a live session player, while Lollis and Ellis were both listed as full-time despite being absent from recordings and inconsistently appearing in promo photos). Brad Parris, however, is a full member, as he is participating in the writing process and will be tracking his own parts on the upcoming full-length.
- Averted on the band's two early EPs and the first full length release, Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka, when the original line-up of Sanders, Chief Spires on bass and Pete Hammoura on drums was fully intact (and Dallas wasn't even a member until after Catacombs was recorded). It was a career-ending injury to Hammoura while recording Black Seeds of Vengeance that set the revolving door in motion, with Spires leaving just after due to personal and creative differences stemming from Hammoura's injury.
- Sadly Mythtaken: Notably averted, Karl Sanders actually has a deep knowledge in Egyptian and Mesopotamian mythology, actually going so far as to tell the meaning behind the songs in the booklets.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: "Annihilation of the Wicked" describes the death god Seker as being entombed in the depths of his own chamber. Oddly enough, though, even his own subordinates have little motivation in actually unsealing him.
- Shout-Out: The H.P. Lovecraft circle receives homage from this band in many of their songs; Karl Sanders himself shows his interest by talking about the references of the myths in Nile's albums.
- Shown Their Work: Karl Sanders' knowledge of mythology and history is so extensive that he has had to clarify on numerous occasions that he is not an actual Egyptologist, and that if people wish to find out more about the subject matters of the songs he writes, while he is happy to answer in some cases, one would be best served by a few trips to a well stocked library.
- Soprano and Gravel: Dallas contrasts Karl's extremely low grunt with a mid-ranged roar. Played even straighter on "The Fiends Who Come to Steal the Magick of the Deceased" courtesy of Mike Breazeale's clean vocals.
- Special Guest:
- Derek Roddy on Black Seeds of Vengeance, since he was hastily recruited mid-session to replace Pete Hammoura after the latter's injury.
- Tim Yeung was a brief live member between Tony Laureano's departure and the hiring of George Kollias.
- Steve Tucker, fresh out of Morbid Angel after David Vincent's return, was the first in a long line of tour-only bassists after Jon Vesano's departure. He was gone by the end of the U.S. Annihilation tour.
- Jon Vesano has shown up as a guest vocalist on most albums subsequent to his departure from full-time status.
- Start My Own: Karl, Dallas, and George all have side projects; the first two have solo projects (Karl has a Middle Eastern folk/ambient project, while George has a death metal project), while Dallas has Narcotic Wasteland, which is a full band. Subverted with Lecherous Nocturne; while Dallas was indeed in the band at one point, he was not a founding member and in fact joined seven years after they had formed. The misconception that they are a side project is likely due to their close ties and the frequency with which former Nile personnel end up joining. Also subverted with Enthean, as they were Brian Kingsland's main band well before he joined Nile.
- Time Abyss: Some of the creatures referred to in the songs (eg: "SSS Haa Set Yoth") seem to have been alive (or whatever equivalent it is in their nature) since even before man appeared on Earth:
Lurking among us hidden in obscurity, descended from the dawn of the ages...
- Uncommon Time: Since they are a Technical Death Metal band, this was pretty much inevitable. They have been using it since their first demo.
- Vocal Tag Team: Dallas Toler-Wade was their main vocalist during his tenure, but both Karl Sanders and Jon Vesano/(insert post-Vesano bass player here) would chip in significant lead vocals. Since Toler-Wade's departure, the band plays this straighter; Karl still does all of his parts, while Brian and Brad split duties roughly 60/40.
- Voice of the Legion: Every now and again, most notably "4th Arra of Dagon" and "Khetti Satha Shemsu".
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: "User-Maat-Re" depicts Pharoah Ramses II'snote exploits as a desperate attempt to gain the favor of his dead father, Seti I. These exploits included the conquest of vast swaths of territory and launching a campaign of temple- and monument-building unmatched for sheer quantity.note The song nonetheless depicts the spectre of the late Seti as being eternally unsatisfied with his son ("User-Maat-Re, thou hast done nothing"), in turn driving Ramses to ever greater heights (or depths, if one views this as insanity).