Sound — 9
Nile is one of the most unique and technical death metal bands out there. They blend brutal death metal seamlessly with Egyptian and Middle Eastern influences in a way that no other band does. This album is certainly a huge step forward for Nile in terms of production. The guitars are much clearer sounding than they have been on past Nile records, the drums sound massive and powerful without being overpowering and the bass is more than audible which seems to be an increasing rarity in today's metal scene. Karl Sanders and Dallas Toler-Wade are absolutely on fire with riffs that are both technical and memorable and George Kollias shows why he is considered one of the greatest death metal drummers alive, utilizing his inhuman double bass chops tastefully (somewhat rare with many death metal drummers) and never letting his parts become overbearing. The two stand out tracks in my book are "Permitting the Noble Dead to Descend to the Underworld" and "Iskander Dhul Kharnon" Both of these tracks show why Nile are masters of Ithyphallic metal.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics on this album are pretty much standard fare for Nile. There is a lot of ancient Egyptian mythology and some token H.P. Lovecraft references. The one song that breaks the normal Nile mode lyric-wise is "Khafir" which eschews the normal Nile themes and looks into the Islamic faith. Nile is one of those bands where the lyrics and music are inseparable, they go together perfectly. The vocals on this album are a return to an older Nile sound with Karl handling more of the lyrics than he did on Ithyphallic. There are also some awesome clean vocals, most notably on the song "Those Whom the Gods Detest" and some more "middle eastern-ish" chanting/singing which help to further the overall Egyptian vibe of the album. A huge bonus for me was have the lyrics and explanations of the lyrics written by Karl in the liner notes. Often humorous and always informative, these notes help give a deeper understanding of how Nile's lyrics and music relate.
Overall Impression — 9
This may be my favorite album of 2009 thus far (and that is saying a lot as 2009 has been quite a good year for metal) I love most everything about this album! Especially the increase in production quality. The only quibble I have is that the bass could be a bit more prominent and deviate from the guitar lines a bit more, but in the end it doesn't take a way from the music. The most impressive songs to me are "Permitting the Noble Dead..." "4th Arra of Dagon", and "The Eye of Ra". This is one album I can listen to the whole way through no problem. If it were lost or stolen I would certainly buy it again! Simple amazing! If you are a fan of Nile or just Death Metal in general, you need to buy this album, you will not be disappointed and like me you may find a burgeoning interest in Egyptian/Mesopatamian mythology by way of Nile.