March 10, 2013 – BB King’s Blues Club and Grill, New York, NY
“Don’t die,” my friends warn me.
My friends looked with trepidation at the black and red clad line of headbangers outside BB King’s, where they were dropping me off.
But I was already off towards the merch booth, eager to see what was on display for Nile’s 20th Anniversary tour. All those years ago, the South Carolinian band had started to find its niche in the competitive and increasingly-crowded death metal scene in the USA. Nowadays, ask a headbanger, “What’s that band that does all the songs about ancient Egypt?” and you’ll immediately get the answer, “NILE!” They truly are that unique.
And something even more unique I saw at the merch booth, a sight to behold: Nile was, in fact, the only metal band I’ve seen to slap its logo on a pair of black booty shorts.
Nile didn’t sell out the small club the way Morbid Angel or Saxon did, but it was a decent-sized crowd nonetheless. Nile’s music in my mind deserved an enormous, Powerslave kind of stage setup–with temple columns, statues, and hieroglyphs all around to fit the Egyptian theme. And they needed a backing group of musicians with the folk instruments they’re so fond of. But until the band can comfortably carry that set around on tour (or book a gig at the Temple of Karnak), the minimalist death metal stage setup would have to do.
Lest we forget that we’re seeing Nile, though, guitarist Karl Sanders sported an ankh necklace.
When the band emerged from the backstage catacombs with the twin Nile classics “Sacrifice Unto Sebek” and “Kafir!” I was stunned that the sheer complexity of Nile’s studio recordings could be reproduced so flawlessly live. The music is athletic in quality: sweat was flying in no time, and a ten-minute halftime break was in order for them to regain their breath. It was overwhelming, beautifully executed chaos.
But as hard as Nile worked onstage, their energy was exceeded by the most intense mosh pit I’d ever seen: it was such a cacophony of windmills and headbanging that you couldn’t even get within a few feet of it without getting a face-full of someone’s hair.
As a relatively new Nile fan who had only just barely digested “At the Gate of Sethu” (their latest at the time), I wasn’t as familiar with the band’s back catalog going back to “Black Seeds of Vengeance,” which the band generously and evenly sampled from.
“Years from now, when you’re sitting on a rocking chair on your porch, you can tell your grandchildren that you saw Nile perform UNAS! SLAYER! OF THE GODS!!!” Sanders exhorted. And “Black Seeds of Vengeance” was an absolute eruption of a finale.
1. Sacrifice Unto Sebek
3. Hittite Dung Incantation
4. Enduring the Eternal Molestation of Flame
5. Supreme Humanism of Megalomania
7. The Inevitable Degradation of Flesh
8. Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve Its Possessor Against Attacks from He Who is in the Water
9. Permitting the Noble Dead to Descend to the Underworld
10. 4th Arra of Dagon
11. The Blessed Dead
12. Defiling the Gates of Ishtar
13. Cast Down the Heretic
14. The Howling of the Jinn
15. Kheftiu Asar Butchiu
16. Serpent Headed Mask
17. The Black Hand of Set
18. mashing the Antiu
19. The Black Flame
20. Unas Slayer of the Gods
21. Lashed to the Slave Stick
22. Black Seeds of Vengeance
I leaned on stage left and enjoyed the view, swelling with pride as I watched Nile work. And I got to thinking that maybe Nile didn’t need a fancy stage setup after all, as they took their bows. They’ve succeeded without it for 20 years, as the tour reminded us. I left with a new appreciation for Nile, who are no doubt hard at work lobbying the Egyptian government to let them perform at the pyramids. God bless ’em all….here’s to the next twenty!
Written by Matt P