Nile: Worship the Animal – The Lost Recordings

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Nile: Worship the Animal – The Lost Recordings
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Nile: Worship the Animal: The Lost Recordings
Brutal Technical Death Metal
Goomba Music (2012), Self-release
1994 (demo tape) / October 11th, 2011
Release length: 35:55
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Fans of Nile have all come to know and expect the same kind of brutalizingly technical Death Metal sound the group is known for today. Throughout the years, the band has put out five strong full-lengths and a collection of other album, with the band’s latest full-length Those Whom the Gods Detest showcasing the band going on stronger then ever before. However, even before the recording of the infamous Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka, Nile recorded five other songs that have never been released before. Goomba Records works with the band to bring these recordings to their fans. Titled Worship the Animal: The Lost Recordings, with the first part reflecting the song of the same name on this release, these lost Nile tracks with the original line-up of the group including Karl Sanders, Chief Spires, and Pete Hammoura, bring these masters of the Death Metal style into a new light, especially when you consider that this is actually the band’s 1994 demo tape Nile being made available to the public. Does this demo recording really stand up against the progression the band has made throughout the years, or is this just a release fans of the band would be more interested in owning to complete the collection?

Surprisingly, Worship the Animal has a fantastic production quality to it for it’s time, especially for these being recorded tracks dating back to 1994 that never saw the light of day. The audio has that early nineties echo to it, creating a somewhat haunting, eery atmosphere to the the crashing cymbols of the drum kit, a nice loud click to the bass kicks, and full, sometimes wooden sounding snares that work well with the Egyptian themes and musical sounds Nile incorporate. The bass here is loud enough to pick up clearly on the mix, though you can’t help but wish it were a little deeper then what it is. This instrument does a good job of backing up the guitars, which sound fantastic with the right amount of distortion for the Death Metal genre to sound heavy, but still a bit clean to a higher production quality without losing their edge. The vocals are quite interesting as well, especially considering the modern deep gutturals the band uses. More rhaspier and at times considerably equivalent to what you might expect on a Thrash album, these vary greatly throughout the recordings stemming from that, to digitally altered commanding spoken word passages with a good deal of authority, to some well executed gutturals that don’t go too deep to really push the Brutal Death Metal concept. All of this works well to really weave more of a traditional Death Metal album with a good deal of technicality, really emphasizing the conceptual aspects of the band, as well as showing a group that is just starting to explore those possibilities in their music.

Considering at this point it’s been roughly seventeen years since this release was recorded, Worship the Animal is a surprising look back at the band’s roots. The music here is largely different compared to what fans have come to expect of the group, and the early Death Metal sound blended with some varying Thrash Metal influences really shines through with some of the tracks on this release, including the first track “La Chant du Cygre.” This song does bring in some of the Egyptian atmosphere to the music, though it is nowhere near as strong as it later will become. The vocals are more geared towards that rhaspier Thrash performance instead of your typical gutturals, though some moments of the song do have some deeper sections to them. The ritual drumming is what really stands out with this song, working well with the heavy guitars and bass to make the song enchanting. From here, the songs do show the band grasping the Egyptian atmosphere and even the sound of the music a lot better, and in a way shedding some of the more Sepultura-esque sounds that you can’t help but feel exist on “La Chant du Cygre” here and there.

“Worship the Animal” ushers in the true potential of Nile, and while “La Chant du Cygre” is a good song, it feels out of place against this track with it’s more guttural vocal performance, chanting clean vocals in the background of the Egyptian-inspired music to set up the proper Middle Eastern atmosphere, pounding drums that do have that ritualistic vibe once more, and an overall more aggressive approach to the track. The ritualistic drums and groovier guitars of the song again bring up some comparisons to Sepultura once more, but here it feels largely minimal when looking at how the release started, and the commanding vocals and distortions used towards the end really set for a commanding, dark, and intense ride through the ancient culture that inspired the material for this recording. Unfortunately, as you progress from here, the songs do get longer and vary in speeds sometimes, the material does seem to lose some of that Egytian atmosphere it had.

This isn’t to say the last three songs are at all bad. “Nepenthe” is definitely a different approach to their music, and again looks at using rhaspier vocals that at times end up harmonized in a more Heavy Metal sound similar to something you might expect from a King Diamond recording, or something similar and without the falsettos of course. The track’s slower pace that fluidly goes into faster chugging bridges is interesting and, though it’s about the same thing from start to finish, the song does a good job of keeping the listener attentive through the just over eight minutes, especially when it picks up for the solo at the half way point, but the vocal approach definitely holds it back and makes you wish for the gutturals that came into play on the previous track, “Worship the Animal” to better suit the crushing sound and atmosphere of this track. That tone to the music is present through the rest of Worship the Animal, but the main issue is the vocals. The rhaspier style simply doesn’t suit the music that follows “La Chant du Cygre,” even on the closing track “Mecca” and it’s more Egyptian-inspired sound. The distorted vocals sound fantastic here though, and really shift the tone of the song dramatically. But, of all the tracks, this one remains one of the worst, as it really just feels like the same thing as “Worship the Animal” and “Nepenthe” in the long run, just without that more upbeat groovey sound the first of those two had.

Overall, Worship the Animal: The Lost Recordings is a great release to have available to the hardcore Nile fans. Finally being able to hear how the band started it all is great, especially after so many years, and why it came to be that these tracks were never reissued up to this point will boggle your mind. But, one could argue it’s because of how different it does end up sounding from what Nile quickly grew into for their debut EP and later recordings. While the music here is heavy and sounds fantastic from a production standpoint, the overall problem is that the ritualistic style of music performed gets boring after a while, sounding like a song you already heard once you get past the title track, and the rhaspier vocals used don’t really suit a Death Metal recording of this caliber, even with some of the Thrash Metal sounds that appear loosely on “La Chant du Cygre.” If you are not a fan of Nile, then Worship the Animal will be an album you probably won’t lose any sleep over if you happen to skip by it, and at this point is a release that die hard fans of the band will no longer have to give up the left nut to own. On it’s own, this demo reissue is interesting to hear and the first two tracks will end up having you back for more, but the rest of it does get stale in a hurry, making this more for the collectors, completionists, and those who just want to hear the deepest roots of their favorite band.

01. La Chant du Cygre – 4:43
02. Worship the Animal – 5:35
03. Nepenthe – 8:01
04. Surrounded by Fright – 8:18
05. Mecca – 9:16
Overall Score: 5.5/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Goomba Music via Clawhammer PR.