Whether you like the band or not, you have to agree that each member of Nile are utterly proficient in what they do-both individually and collaboratively as a group. And each member has only further developed their respective talents by going solo-something which sees Nile’s drummer George Kollias enter 2015 with a fresh mind for musical progression. And what a progression it is, as “Invictus”, aside from being one of 2015’s most significant extreme metal albums, is a work to be proud of.
The somewhat ridiculous intro track ‘Echoes of Divinity’ aside, “Invictus” is powerful, mesmerizing and atmospheric in all the right ways. The most obvious aspect of “Invictus” is Kollias’ proficient, engaging drum execution, but the man has developed his talents to play on other instruments too, and the end result is simply fantastic. Though he has sought a little help from members outside of Nile (Rotting Christ and Firewind, incidentally both bands from Kollias’ homeland), each and every song remains his sole creation. Songs like the menacing title track and ‘Shall Rise/Shall Be Dead’ prove that Kollias is something of a musical machine, where each instrument has been tended to with a particular focus on seamless rhythm and consistency. The longer songs, such as ‘Voices’ and enigmatic closer ‘Buried Under the Flames’ for example, develop a distinctively fluent progression between variable paces and changes from chilling ambiance to crushing heaviness. If anything, Kollias has excelled himself here, as if this was the album he always wanted to make but never got the chance until now. The aforementioned songs prove this unmistakeably.
There are some significantly outstanding tracks here which, mainly due to an effortless penchant for songwriting, seem to stand head and shoulders where you consider the aforementioned songs. For instance, the slow-moving beginning of ‘Aeons of Burning Galaxies’ segues into a much more vitriolic and passionate, almost black metal-esque sound as the minutes progress, and before you know it, you’re nodding your head in appreciation of having listened to Kollias’ solo material. Indeed, even the folkier instrumentation which develops a different, albeit no less enticing ambiance works well, where the themes and concepts considered provide substance to the musical aspect of the album. There’s also the wholly ambient ‘Apocalypse’, the title being slightly misleading but the music more than making up for it. Here it is understood that Kollias doesn’t always have a barrage of extreme metal sounds and punishing heaviness in mind when writing songs, and if anything proves that he can offer a break from the norm when you least expect it. ‘Apocalypse’ then, manages to be breathtaking without ever stepping one foot into the extreme side of things, and so the way in which choral chants, Egyptian-style instrumentation and sinister background atmosphere all collaborate for a mere three minute epic track.
There’s no doubt that with “Invictus”, George Kollias has thoroughly excelled himself as a solo musician. Whilst the music here is mostly going to suit fans of Nile’s mid-career work more so than anyone else, the fact that this album has been worked on time and again is proven by every individual song. The musicianship and songwriting here has been developed effortlessly and carefully to provide the best of what everyone expected from George Kollias, and then some. Long may his solo career reign.
Released: 18th May, 2015
1. Echoes of Divinity
3. The Passage
4. Aeons of Burning Galaxies
5. Shall Rise/Shall Be Dead
7. Treasures of Nemesis
10. Through Empty Eyes of Light
11. Buried Under the Flames