I’ve been listening to the new Nile album in my car, and I’ve heard it a good couple of times through now. I’m building a bit of a love/hate relationship with it, and the band in general. I loved the way the band was going around the time of Annihilation of the Wicked, but now it kind of seems like they’re channeling the spirit of Chuck Schuldiner, but not in a good way. There’s a number of songs on here that have the deeper guttural style, but there’s also that signature Death sound in the rhaspier, higher pitched shoutingvocals, and you can even pick up a bit of the Progressive Death Metal influence to some of the later songs as well.
At the Gate of Sethu did have me banging my head along to the rhythm on many songs though. The brutality definitely is there, and I’m alright with that. “Enduring the Eternal Molestation of Flame,” “Slaves of Xul,” and “Tribunal of the Dead” all really grab me, but none of them, or even any others at this point really stick out as memorable as some of the tracks off their previous efforts. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad album, just a more unique experience that was hinted at on the two albums prior, just expanded more. Clearly I like what I’m hearing or else I wouldn’t have listened to it for a good three days straight now, but as I listen to it I miss songs like “Lashed to the Slave Stick” and “Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve Its Possessor Against Attacks from He Who Is in the Water.” I do admit “The Fiends Who Come to Steal the Magick of the Deceased” has potential, as do many others, but the shifting between the clean chanting and the rest of the music here is distracting, as are the striking Death similarities all around.
But, with that said, there’s no arguing that this is an album that is meant to go for the juggular with far more technical material. If you loved the band’s last album, Ithyphalic, then you’ll love this.
But while I’ve been putting a good deal of focus on the new Nile in the car, I’ve been giving time to Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody in doors, largely towards the end of the shift of my regular nine to five job when I can sit down and concentrate on the passion it offers. As everyone knows, Luca is no longer involved with Rhapsody of Fire, but this is another branch of the Rhapsody story line. Well, after sitting down with the album, this is another I’m developing a love/hate relationship with.
Ascending to Infinity is also not a bad album, but wow it’s different. I honestly feared the worst with the Techno style introduction, but once it ended and the actual music kicked in, I started to get into it. I can easily tell this is solely Luca’s brainchild just from the first track. There’s a good deal of cheesy, fantastical, even over-the-top Power Metal, but this is far from a typical Rhapsody release. Aside the aforementioned intro, there’s a stronger operatic push, and some tracks generally conflict with some of the previous story line and musical lore, such as “Clash of the Titans” with modern police siren sound effects. “Luna” also is a bit distracting due to it’s more Evergrey style power ballad approach, leaving me a little let down with it.
But, like with Nile, there’s the love/hate relationship I’ve developed. The vocals are astounding. I love them. The problem lies in the music though. When the traditional higher singing kicks in, and you get the typical Rhapsody material that is quite memorable and beautiful, the release symbolizes the growth the two “versions” of the band made. But, then there’s the opera-heavy material that the cleaner production doesn’t quite work out with. “Tormento E Passione” just sounds weak aginst such an amazing vocal performance in duet form, really having the singing dwarf the music to the point where it’s almost worthless at times. Though, I admit, this is still one of my favorites off here because of the how moving the vocals are, sometimes nearly bringing a tear to my eye. The first time this finished I honestly had to fight the urge to stand up and applaud.
Clearly, I’m a bit undecided on both releases with just how much I love and hate certain aspects. But, one thing is for certain: I’m enjoying my time with both of them, and I know you will too if you’re a fan of the band, or the style. Nile will tear your face off (then hex your pathetic soul for all eternity) with At the Gate of Sethu on July 3rd, while Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody will counter that with beautiful and moving symphonic and operatic Power Metal on the same day. I’ll make sure to have reviews live for both of them, so make sure to come back if you haven’t already been sold by what I’ve had to say at this point.