Nile @ The Manning Bar
(15 November 2013)
Lilen Pautasso reviews the Australian return of American tech-death enthusiasts, Nile as they showcase their uniquely brutal style in front of a near sell-out Sydney crowd.
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There aren’t many bands that can match the auditory power and technical prowess of ‘Tech-Death’ masters, Nile. Promoting the 2012 release, At the Gates of Sethu, Nile were welcomed guests in Sydney with hordes of passionate fans cramming into the Manning Bar on a suitably stormy evening.
After an impressionable performance by The Faceless earlier in the night, fans were noticeably wired for an evening of sonic brutality. Kicking things off with the gloriously titled ‘Dusk Falls Upon the Temple of the Serpent on the Mount of Sunrise’, Nile wasted no time in showcasing their multifaceted musical ingenuity. Lead by front man Dallas Toler-Wade and his hilariously decorated T-Shirt, the band continuously engaged the audience through their well-rounded but enjoyable stage demeanour. Newcomer bassist Tom Ellis was an entertaining visual distraction, proudly showcasing his long blonde locks in a haze of whirlwind headbanging. Alongside him was the always smiling and loveable guitarist Karl Sanders – founder and (arguably) the creative epicentre of the band. As the primary lyricist and composer for the band, Sanders is an icon within the heavy metal community, not only for the immensity of his compositions but also his intricately researched lyrics. A self-confessed fanatic of Egyptology and ancient mythology, the band’s music is rich with Egyptian themes and often features excerpts of traditional musical instruments…in between the madness. Never looking exhausted, Sanders and Toler-Wade had a wonderful onstage chemistry that included synchronised guitar playing and regular moments of friendly acknowledgement that made them look more like members of some 30 year old jazz band.
Not to be overlooked during the set, drummer George Kollias was an exceptional performer, executing his almost ‘inhuman’ blast beats and double kicks in flawless and compelling style – his facial expressions indicating no sense of exhaustion. As anticipated, Kollias was spot-on during the entire show, never missing a beat and increasing his playing speed to genuinely animalistic levels.
As the band powered through songs Sacrifice Unto Sebek, Kafir! and The Inevitable Degredation of Flesh, the audience began to increase their ‘appreciation’ in the form of circle moshpits, exaggerated headbanging and deafening roars. But while the fans indicated their clear love for the technical prowess of Nile, there were regular moments where boredom ensued and the unpleasant and unbalanced sonic disaster (courtesy of the sound desk) made the earplugs come out and the show appear to drag on. Whilst not necessarily let down by any fault of their own, Nile were not as entertaining as many of the heavy metal counterparts that have taken to the Manning Bar stage this year. Bands such as Enslaved and Behemoth were wildly entertaining, compared to the often monotonous stage presence of the tech-death quartet. Yet, it is difficult to fault the band when they execute their craft to technical perfection in a manner that is rarely matched by other bands in the industry – whether metal or not. As such, their commendable performance clearly gripped their emphatically loyal fan base meaning that Australia will always embrace the opportunity for an encore with great exuberance.
© Lilen Pautasso