Nile is an American technical death metal band from Greenville, South Carolina, United States, formed in 1993. Their music and lyrics are inspired by Ancient Egyptian/Near Eastern mysticism, history, religion and ancient art, as well as the works of H.P. Lovecraft.
Nile formed in their hometown of Greenville in 1993, from the ashes of a previous band Morriah in which Karl Sanders played since the 1980s. Karl Sanders (guitar/vocals), Chief Spires (bass/vocals) and Pete Hammoura (drums) debuted with their Festivals of Atonement EP in 1995, leading Nile to a southwestern tour in support of other big metal acts such as Obituary, Deicide and Broken Hope.
The EP Ramses Bringer of War was released by Visceral Productions in 1997. Visceral were due to release the full-length Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka, but went out of business later that year. However, Relapse Records was open to releasing it in early 1998, giving Nile a wider distribution and a chance to hit the road with Incantation and Morbid Angel.
The follow-up, Black Seeds of Vengeance, was released in late 2000. Prior to this release, Pete Hammoura left the band due to injuries sustained while touring for The Catacombs. However, since the band thought he was holding them back, it was agreed that he leave. Derek Roddy drummed on all of the tracks (except “To Dream of Ur”) as a session musician. Also, prior to Black Seeds of Vengeance, Dallas Toler-Wade joined as a second guitarist/vocalist. A collection of remastered recordings, In the Beginning, was released later the same year.
Chief Spires left the bands a few months after the release of Black Seeds of Vengeance citing personal and professional differences. He was replaced by Jon Vesano. The band also found a new drummer in Tony Laureano.
By 2002, In Their Darkened Shrines was released. One reviewer noted that the album gave “death metal a cinematic, symphonic twist”. Two videos were shot with director Darren Doane, “Sarcophagus” and “Execration Text”, respectively.
Annihilation of the Wicked was released in 2005. New drummer George Kollias stepped in to replace Tony Laureano, who left before the recording began. After recording the bass for Annihilation of the Wicked, Jon Vesano also left the band. He was temporary replaced by Joe Payne on the following tour. Another Darren Doane directed video was shot for “Sacrifice Unto Sebek”.
In May 2006, Nile signed a recording contract with Nuclear Blast. On February 26, 2007, Nile entered the studio and began recording their fifth full-length album entitled Ithyphallic, which was their first release with Nuclear Blast. Karl Sanders had confirmed a release date of June 29 via a posting on the band’s message board, which was later pushed back to July 20, 2007. As a special bonus, Nuclear Blast gave several fans the opportunity to listen to the new album two weeks before its release if they could decipher a hieroglyphic message, to which “papyrus” was the answer. Upon the album’s release, it sold 4,600 copies, which enabled Nile to get onto the Billboard 200 for the first time, reaching No. 162 on that chart.
In June 2009, Nile entered the recording studio to begin work on their sixth full-length album, entitled Those Whom the Gods Detest. The album was released in November of the same year, and was critically well-received – with one reviewer suggesting “pretty much the only thing standing in Nile’s way at this point is the fact that we as listeners have become so accustomed to the band’s excellence that another excellent album seems almost par for the course”. It sold 3,500 copies in its first week of release in America, peaking at No. 160 on the Billboard 200.
On October 21, 2010, Chris Lollis was confirmed as the new permanent bassist for Nile, after four years of session work with the band. Goomba Music released Worship the Animal on October 11, 2011, which is an alternately titled version of Nile’s demo, which the band’s original line-up recorded in 1994.
On December 6, 2011, Nile announced work in progress, and the completion of drum tracking, for their upcoming album At the Gate of Sethu in 2012. On February 4, 2012, Karl Sanders announced on his Facebook page that they had a new bassist, Todd Ellis, who would contribute vocals to the new record. The next day, he explained on the band’s official forum that he had lost contact with Chris Lollis during the writing and recording of the upcoming album, and after three months of silence from him they hired a replacement. On November 22, 2012, Nile released their music video for “Enduring The Eternal Molestation Of Flame”.
Todd Ellis left the band on February 9, 2015, citing “unforeseen circumstances beyond my control”. On July 24, 2015, it was announced that the band will be releasing its new album, entitled What Should Not Be Unearthed, on August 28.
Musical Style and Themes
The majority of Nile’s music is written by vocalist/guitarist Karl Sanders. It combines traditional and technical death metal. Nile’s music is also characterized by its extreme complexity and speed – for which the band has received acknowledgement from many music fans and journalists – and its extremely “heavy” riffing, due to Nile’s guitar and bass tunings, which are normally Dropped A tuning.
Much of the lyrical content is based on Karl Sanders’ interest in Egyptology and other ancient Middle Eastern cultures, such as Mesopotamia. Lengthy sleeve notes are included with the albums Black Seeds of Vengeance, In Their Darkened Shrines, Annihilation of the Wicked, Those Whom the Gods Detest, At the Gate of Sethu and What Should Not Be Unearthed, explaining the inspiration or source for the lyrics of each song.