Heavy metal and ancient Egypt have been fast friends ever since Iron Maiden wowed the metal world with 1984’s Powerslave. But music fans still had to wait another decade-plus for a heavy metal band – the aptly named Nile – dedicated almost exclusively to exploring Egyptian history and mythology with their lyrics.

But there is much more to Nile than this, you know?

Most of their albums actually make room for scholarly texts about other ancient civilizations and their music carried, not just good old fashioned death metal, but extra brutal death metal across previously unknown thresholds of technical achievement and all around virtuosity.

One will never dismiss death metal as a simple form of mindless savagery after listening to a Nile release – not even their comparatively “raw” 1998 debut, Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka, after which band leader Karl Sanders and faithful sparring partner Dallas Toller-Wade refined the band’s formula on 2000’s Black Seeds of Vengeance and 2002’s In Their Darkened Shrines.

Subsequent albums like Those Whom the Gods Detest (2009) and What Should Never Be Unearthed (2015) have continually pushed new limits, at times successfully, at others not so much, but we can safely so there are no unworthy chapters in the band’s instantly recognizable body of work.

So steel your heart and join us in the timeless crypts of Ra, Anubis, and Osiris, as we rank every Nile album, from weakest to strongest.

See Nile in the 10 Greatest Technical Death Metal Bands