Monday, 21 September 2015

Nile - 'What Should Not be Unearthed’ (Album Review)

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 28/08/2015
Label: Nuclear Blast



This is the death metal equivalent of the Olympics- faster, bigger and the pinnacle of human endeavour in the chosen form.  Suffice it to say that this is a superb technical/brutal death metal album of towering musicality. I am now a confirmed fan and will seek out their other records for sure. What an achievement this record is- death metal and then some.

‘What Should Not be Unearthed’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Call to Destruction (5:45)
2. Negating The Abominable Coils Of Apep (4:14)
3. Liber Stellae - Rubaeae  3:48)
4. In The Name Of Amun (6:49)
5. What Should Not Be Unearthed (6:58)
6. Evil To Cast Out Evil (5:37)
7. Age Of Famine (4:11)
8. Ushabti Reanimator (1:30)
9. Rape Of The Black Earth  (4:35)
10. To Walk Forth From Flames Unscathed (6:36)

Nile is:

Karl Sanders | guitars, vocals
Dallas Toler-Wade | guitars, vocals
George Kollias | drums

The Review:

Nile are one of death metal's biggest names and can justifiably be described as having progressed and even reinvigorating the genre. They play technical yet very brutal death metal- hyper fast, Egyptian themed, blasting death. All the ingredients are there. Since the late 90's to the present day they have been leading the way in their own niche and affecting the greater world of death metal as a result. So why have I never got into them?!?! I have no idea, is the short answer. I have “In Their Darkened Shrines” and while I have enjoyed it on occasion, I just never ventured further into their discography. A foolish move, as this latest opus makes perfectly clear. From the opening of ‘Call To Destruction’ it is clear that this is a band at the top of their game. My initial thoughts? Fuck. George Kollias is FAST! The songs are not catchy, exactly (ha!) but is a showcase of what the band does best; Egyptian themed death metal of impossible dexterity.

‘Negating The Abominable Coils of Apep’ does the same again- alternating between half intelligible death growls and impossibly low grunt vocals. There are so many time changes and percussive shifts that it is difficult to follow- even for someone who listens to a lot of death metal. Karl Sanders' riffs are finger breakingly complex- so many twists and turns and often combing rhythm and melody (no easy feat, I'm sure). There is also a tambourine overdub on this one- perhaps showing that Nile go for production as well as brutality.

‘Liber Stellae- Rubaeae’ sees Kollias blasting at a speed most won't reach and the riffs both chugging and screaming away. This is the death metal equivalent of the Olympics- faster, bigger and the pinnacle of human endeavour in the chosen form. Ironically, I suppose this is akin to death metal on steroids. The rolling groove comes into play here as Sanders intones “I feel nothing because I am nothing”. It is intense stuff.

‘In The Name of Amun’ starts atmospherically and really brings the Middle Eastern vibe. It is a creepy and cold start to what becomes a frenzied hurricane of blasts and riffs. Again, the drums are incredibly quick. Even twenty years ago, the speeds reached (comfortably) here would be unthinkable. I really cannot praise Kollias enough for his abilities. Remember, in 1980, Motorhead were the fastest band in the world. In 1983, Metallica were. Slayer kicked things up a few notches before Napalm Death hovered into view and then blasts became fairly de rigeur for many death and grindcore bands. Black metal did not push that envelope any further, really, with the exception of the very speedy Hellhammer in Mayhem. With Kollias, though, there is a drummer that can make even Pete Sandoval's 90's pacing appear pedestrian- and Pete “The Feet” was considered pretty untouchable at the time.

‘What Should Not Be Unearthed’ takes us to the half way point- the songs range from the approximately four minute mark to around the seven minute mark, so ten tracks will not be short changing you. Such is the bewildering nature of the material here, that a little goes a very long way indeed.

‘Evil to Cast Out Evil’ features a great pace to start and nice line in riffing too. This is one of my favourite tracks on the album- being as it is a little easier to follow and rings the changes. Naturally, the pace picks up just shy of the two minute mark. There is a lovely time shift again before three minutes rolls around and the strong refrain from earlier in the track is repeated. This is cracking stuff and really ushers in the second half of the album superbly.

‘Age of Famine’ has a creepingly evil feel to it- really slow and nasty and again this change marks its card as a stand out and keeps the listener interested as the album progresses. Again, I really liked this one as it has all the ingredients of great death metal. ‘Ushabti Reanimator’ is a one and a half minute instrumental piece featuring lush acoustic sounds and eerie atmospherics. Again, the album starts to mark itself out as a record of two personalities; impossible speed and dexterity showcased alongside atmospherics and time changes. Naturally, after the preceding experimentation, ‘Rape of The Black Earth’ pins its colours to the mast with speed, aggression and brutality.

‘To Walk Forth From Flames Unscathed’ is a six and a half minute closer and showcase of the band's formidable skills. It will get your head banging that is for sure, as well as confounding you with time changes. The track twists, turns and rolls as it progresses. The closing one minute plus is a superb outro as well- rolling pit orientated neck snapping stuff! It is an interesting undertaking to review this record- as I have only heard one other Nile album, I have no idea how it stacks up against the rest of their discography. Suffice it to say that this is a superb technical/brutal death metal album of towering musicality. I am now a confirmed fan and will seek out their other records for sure. What an achievement this record is- death metal and then some.

What Should Not be Unearthed’ is available here

FFO: Behemoth, Suffocation, Origin, Melechesh

Band info: official | facebook


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