Seeing Egyptologist death metallers Nile at the Underworld is an unusual spectacle, having sold out the venue back in 2008 and having accumulated a significantly larger fanbase as the years have soldiered on. Interestingly, main support is from the opposite end of the metal spectrum with American heavy/power metallers Vicious Rumors an exclusive to this date of the tour.
Openers One Machine are an international act featuring Steve Smyth whose metal CV encompasses such associations with titans including Nevermore, Forbidden, Testament in addition to Vicious Rumors. With one full-length to their name released this year, the quintet begins to pummel the attendees with a groove-laden take on sinister progressive thrash metal. Hints of modern thrash in the vein of latter day Exodus are studded with screeching throat-destroying vocals that are unafraid to dabble with falsettos. Guitar work is a particular highlight that sees intricate noodling coupled with a dark heaviness, echoing Nevermore.
The stage presence of One Machine involves the obligatory headbanging and a strong ability to psyche up the audience, which unsurprisingly leads to a rigours ovation after each song. 'Crossed Over', 'The Distortion of Lies and the Overdrive Truth' and 'Armchair Warriors' deploy the members' musical confidence formidably. Unfortunately, the performance is afflicted by poor sound with the lead guitar barely audible. Nonetheless, this fails to ruin the performance and closer 'Freedom and Pain' punctuates the setlist excellently.
It has been 24 years since Californian '80s metallers Vicious Rumors last set foot in the nation's capital and the audience contains many fans whose main motivation for attending are the special guests. Having been prominent in the American power metal scene when it was initiated in the '80s and unlike many of their peers, they never broke up and reunited, it seems strange that it took the Americans so long to play Britain.Opening with the title track off their sophomore album 'Digital Dictator', heads start banging to the galloping power metal, perfect for the live environment and awarded with significantly better sound than One Machine.
Naturally, the setlist leans towards the earlier stages of Vicious Rumors career; such tracks on display include 'Minute to Kill', 'The Crest' and 'Don't Wait for Me'.Newer material appears in the forms of the meandering 'I Am the Gun' and the thrash-based 'Murderball'. New vocalist Nick Holleman does an admirable job replicating his predecessors and core members Geoff Thorpe and Larry Howe bejewel the music with a nasty heaviness with guitar and drums respectively. Closer is 'Soldiers of the Night' from the debut album of the same name, injecting a final '80s metal dose into the amped audience. Vicious Rumors may have been disadvantaged playing to a gathering of death metal adherents but their confidence in their stellar heavy metal secures audience approval universally tonight. Hopefully the five of them will return to London for a headlining date very shortly.
The intro tape is served by the instrumental 'Dusk Falls Upon the Temple of the Serpent on the Mount of Sunrise' as technical death metallers Nile take the stage. The first attack is the crushingly rhythmic favourite 'Sacrifice UntoSebek'. Instantly, the crowd erupts into a frenzied rage pushing against the newly erected barriers in front of the stage tonight. Despite this song being a stubborn staple in their set, the technicality of guitarists Dallas Toler-Wade and Karl Sanders paired with the intense energy of drummer George Koliasnever fails to dazzle and impress.
Their technical brutal death metal is famously imbued with Egyptian melodies and a three-pronged vocal attack. The rapid time changes aid the down-tuned guitar work in ensuring the metal is as harsh and aggressive as possible. For those who have seen Nile a handful of times, the setlist is extremely typical with 'Kafir!', 'The Blessed Dead', 'Enduring the Eternal Molestation of Flame', 'IskanderDhulKharnon', 'Lashed to the Slave Stick' and 'Sarcophagus', the latter which is jokingly prefaced by guitarist Karl Sanders announcing it as a track they have never played in London before. Nonetheless, the audience reaction is superlative, with the standard death metal fare of mosh pits and a scattering of crowdsurfers.
'Invocation of the Gate of Aat-Ankh-es-en-Amenti' segues into beloved closer 'Black Seeds of Vengeance'which summons a final wave of violence from the crowd before calling it quits. The band thanks the audience for attending and vacates the stage but the fans remain for an encore that never arrives. Although the show was a fascination to watch, it offered nothing unique for a Nile concert and those who were absent did not miss anything that they cannot catch from another Nile gig.