Nile's Karl Sanders has given the people what they want on the death metal trio's latest full-length and has provided the extensive liner notes that were so integral to the band's output early in this decade and so sorely missed on 2007's Ithyphallic. Reading through the booklet for Those Whom the Gods Detest may take an hour of your time, but it's well worth and it demonstrates Sanders' vast knowledge of his chosen subjects of Egypt and Lovecraft.
Musically, the album is also a return to form. Whereas parts of Ithyphallic dragged from an occasional lack of interesting melodies to drive the slow parts and a lack of coherence to the fast parts, every part of the new album feels meticulously planned. Album-opening one-two punch "Kafir!" and "Hittite Dung Incantation" gives the listener everything they might look for in a Nile album in two songs. There's Middle Eastern melodies played on acoustic instruments, clean Qawwali-inspired vocals, menacing groove riffs, light speed solos, and some of the best death metal vocals this side of, well, Death.
The refrain of "Kafir!" is among the notable highlights of the album: "There is no god but God / There is no god but the one true God / There is not god but the hidden God / There is no God / There is no God" is somewhat uncharacteristically anti-religion for Nile, but fits perfectly into the theme of the album, which can be summed up, more or less, by the title. Sanders elaborates more on the theme in the aforementioned masterful liner notes. "Permitting the Noble Dead to Descend to the Underworld" is the token fast song, and easily matches its predecessors "Lashed to the Slave Stick" and "Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve Its Possessor Against Attacks From He Who Is In the Water".
What really makes this album special is the clear dedication Nile have for their craft. The meticulously collected liner notes and album art and lyrics all tying into a theme serve to enhance the formidable death metal that they adorn. This might be the best album of the year in terms of purely non-musical criteria. That isn't to say the music isn't terrific, but it does give the album some bonus points.
Karl Sanders has apparently never been to Egypt. Hearing this album almost makes me want to open a PayPal donations link to send him there. The resulting album might end up being the greatest death metal record of all time.