Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka
I don’t know whether this is a death metal record or a doctoral dissertation in ancient religions! First, I must comment on the album cover art. Nile are quite interested in Egyptology, which is one of the oldest classical fields in modern academe. Egypt, along with being the first “great” civilization, is one of the most mysterious. While much of Egypt’s societal mechanics is known from preserved writings, there is probably so much hidden that it will take the next 500 years to uncover what Egypt was really about. One thing Egypt was pretty good at was winning wars… What looks like King Tut’s mummified body alongside three prisoners of war, slain with their hands tied, adorn the cover of Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka. The artwork is in hieroglyphic form and the cover is a beautiful, fiery work of art. It’s not the typical cartoon demon one sees on all the rest of the death metal out there. No, the artist, Adam Peterson, obviously is a well-versed student of such subject.
On the lyrical side of things, all the songs are about old world evil deities and/or warrior-king power dynamics. The first song, “Smashing the Anitu” describes the beheading of prisoners as illustrated on the album cover. From there they go into calling forth demons (“Barra Edinazzu” -could be a recipe for lentil soup for all I know, though – and “Kudurru Maglu,” the latter using samples from the grasshopper scenes in The Exorcist II), to recalling ancient rights of war (“Rhamses Bringer of War” -which is introduced by a great rendition of Holst’s “Mars, the Bringer of War”), to totally evil Satanic sex rituals (“Opening of the Mouth” – beware the eroticism of evil, if you fear for your orifices, don’t listen to this song… ). For those of you who know about more contemporary Middle Eastern religions, there’s “The Howling of the Jinn” telling of the demons who haunt the desert trade routes. “Die Rache Krieg Lied der Assyriche” is probably the most Satanic song on the album as it appears to be calling forth Pazuzu, and it’s done in “chant” style rather than death metal or any metal! This is freakin’ terrifying!