Friday, January 13, 2012

Nile - Worship The Animal - 1994: The Lost Recordings

Worship The Animal - 1994: The Lost Recordings
Goomba Music

Within the death metal scene, Greenville (South Carolina, U.S.) based outfit Nile have earned their place as one of the scene’s leaders, with all of their six full-length albums to date all garnishing critical acclaim from both fans and critics alike through the ability to combine technicality and brutality that pushes the extremity of the death metal mould, and their innovative use of Egyptian/middle-eastern sounds and influences throughout their song writing.
For most, Nile’s history begins with the release of their debut full-length album ‘Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka’, which emerged in 1998 through Relapse Records. But for diehard fans, the real beginnings of Nile started some four years prior, when the three piece act (Comprising at the time of guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Karl Sanders, vocalist/bassist Chief Spires and drummer/vocalist Pete Hammoura) had been honing their sound and style for the better part of a year together, and finally decided the time was right to release their self-titled cassette demo in 1994.
Fast forward some twenty-seven years later, and Goomba Music has decided to re-release Nile’s demo on C.D. for the very first time for diehard fans – this time under the name ‘Worship The Animal - 1994: The Lost Recordings’.
The keyword when describing this five track E.P. is diehard, because unless you’re an absolute diehard fan of the band, there’s really not likely going to be much on offer here that makes you want to come back time and time again. The real problem with ‘Worship The Animal - 1994: The Lost Recordings’ isn’t so much that it’s a bad batch of songs, or that it has a poor production (On the contrary, it actually sounds better than some bands official releases!), or that the band can’t play their instruments (That’s certainly not the case here). The problem is that the Nile sound presented here on their demo back in 1994 has very little with what the band presented some four years later. In other words, this is Nile, but certainly not as the Nile you’ve come accustomed to over the years.
The opening track ‘Le Chant Du Cygre’ gives you a clear indication of where the band’s sound was at in 1994, and surprisingly enough, it has more in common with thrash than it does with death metal. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have its death metal elements, but for the most part, it’s brutal thrash. Another striking characteristic of difference is Spires’ vocals. Unlike his deep death growl of later releases, his singing here is predominantly of the clean/growled kind, which only emphasis the thrash-like direction.
The title track ‘Worship The Animal’ shows the band incorporating some clean vocalised chanting in the background, and bit more aggression and death-like growls from Spires, but this groove metal based track still has more in common with Pantera or Meshuggah than Nile circa 1998.
‘Nepenthe’ is probably as close song writing wise as the band get to the direction they would take in their future (Especially in terms of the sluggish riffing and the blast of the drums), but the song itself is far from one of the demos strongest or memorable efforts.
Much like the opener, ‘Surrounded By Fright’ is more thrash than death metal, and is really only notable for the emphasis of melody from Spires on the vocal front, while the closer ‘Mecca’, while cut from the same cloth as the former track, it does feature some effects on the vocals to give the song a bit more of a demonic sound, and some solo work from Sanders that hints at the middle-eastern influences that would later become a huge part of the band’s sound.
Overall, ‘Worship The Animal - 1994: The Lost Recordings’ is primarily for diehard fans who want everything Nile has ever recorded in order to complete the collection. Outside of those fans, this E.P. doesn’t have much replay value past a couple of spins purely for curiosity’s sake.

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© Justin Donnelly