Like ancient embalmers, Nile can yank brains out of earholes. This musically and intellectually intimidating outfit combines death-metal riffs with the meticulously researched lyrics of amateur Egyptologist Karl Sanders. Annihilation of the Wicked, its forthcoming fifth record, combines cerebral content and cathartic noise.
Nile's inhumanly swift concerts conjure the ghost of John Henry, hammering himself to an early grave. Former drummer Pete Hammoura was the group's first casualty: Nile's blast beats cost him his shoulder, and, subsequently, his seat behind the kit. "The Burning Pits of the Duat," a punishing track from Annihilation, might claim more victims with its tendonitis-courting guitar work.
Also in excruciating pain are the song's subjects, who are immolated and incinerated. Death metal often deals in torture tactics and gore stories, but most of these tales are products of supernaturally sadistic imaginations. By contrast, real people were "Lashed to the Slave Stick," beaten and beheaded, and Sanders draws upon historical texts to describe these harrowing happenings. The group musically mimics the atrocities it describes, doing its best imitations of flaming pits and methodical mutilations. It also plays centuries-old modal harmonies on authentic Egyptian instruments, waking sleeping spirits like the mystical music box in The Simpsons' Isis exhibit.