Nile: Put to Detest

Originally published in Guitar World, January 2010

Nile's Karl Sanders and Dallas Toler-Wade discusses how Paul Gilbert helped shape Those Whom the Gods Detest.

Having released five albums over the past decade, Nile were starting to run out of creative juice by the time they had to make number six. So when the South Carolina death metal band finished touring for 2007’s Ithyphallic, guitarists Karl Sanders and Dallas Toler-Wade decided to reinvent the group as something even more extreme.

Sanders says, “Dallas and I worked like mad on our playing, especially our alternate picking. We really wanted to show what we could do as guitarists and songwriters.”

Their hard work is apparent on Nile’s new album, Those Whom the Gods Detest. The record is a tech-metal barrage of intricate, angular songs that feature unconventional meters, abrupt rhythm shifts, haunting Middle Eastern melodies and blinding leads.

While Sanders and Toler-Wade were inspired in part by Iranian and Hindu music, they also sought guidance from guitar virtuoso Paul Gilbert’s now-classic instructional video, Intense Rock. Toler-Wade says, “We really studied that and found good techniques that you can apply to whatever tonality you want. The trick is getting the cleanliness down and the synchronization between the right and left hands.”

Sanders adds, “Some of those Gilbert-isms really found their way into Nile rhythms, and I didn’t expect that to happen. But it’s all mixed up with what we do, which is totally cool.”

The two guitarists were primed with new techniques by the time Nile began writing Those Whom the Gods Detest in January 2009. Five months later, the group entered the studio with Neil Kernon (Cannibal Corpse, Queensrÿche), who also produced the band’s last two offerings. This time was different, however. “For some reason, Neil took a Nazi-like approach to everything, and that nearly killed us,” Sanders says. “It became a running joke. We’d do a killer take and Neil would go, ‘That was great, I love it. Now, do it again.’ ”

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