OK, the first new release to catch up on is the eighth studio album from South Carolina based death metal band Nile.
The band were formed in the town of Greenville back in 1993 by vocalist / guitarist Karl Sanders, bassist / vocalist Chief Spires and drummer Pete Hammoura. Debut album “Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka” followed in 1998.
During the period between the band’s first album and 2007’s “Ithyphallic” release there have been a number of different band members come and go, but will “Ithyphallic” the band’s line-up stabilised around Sanders, guitarist / bassist / vocalist Dallas Toler-Wade and drummer George Kollias. Bass player Brad Parris has joined the band since the recording of the new album, which is titled “What Should Not Be Unearthed”.
As with the rest of the band’s catalogue, the majority of the music, and all of the lyrics have been written by Sanders and reflect his deep interest in Egyptology and sometimes other Middle Eastern cultures and history. This gives Nile’s music a distinctive difference from many of their death metal contemporaries, with perhaps only Melechesh offering a similar output.
The album begins with the appropriately named “Call To Destruction”, which is fast and heavy as hell. Topically, the lyrics of this track sound as though they could be from the point of view of today’s Islamic State as it talks about the annihilation of “all that is pre-Islamic… burning a vast accumulation of ancient knowledge existing long before the Quran…”. However, the lyrics are actually inspired by, and quote directly from, the Sunni leader (and Bahrain’s president of National Unity) Abd al-Latif al-Mahmoud who was reported to have called for Egyptian authorities to demolish the pyramids and continue the Islamisation process of the Egypt begun by Amr bin al-As when he led an Muslim conquest of the country in the year 640. The band have been at pains to point out, however, that this is not a perspective that they endorse. As you can probably tell, simple songs these are not!
Musically, straight away I can see that although this is a technically accomplished band at work this record isn’t as technical or clean in delivery and sound as the previous album “At The Gate Of Sethu”.
The next two tracks deal with aspects of the ancient Egyptian deity Apep, who was the greatest enemy of Ra (the sun god) and known as the Lord of Chaos.
Track four, which begins with the most obvious Middle Eastern musical influence so far on this record, is “In The Name Of Amun” – referring to another major Egyptian deity – and is followed by the title track, the longest and (to my mind) best track here. Exceptionally heavy guitar riffs mesh with some superb drumming and very menacing sounding death metal growls.
“Evil To Cast Out Evil” is another brutally heavy track, and initially reminded me a little of Polish black metal legends Behemoth, such is the level of aural violence and evil blasting out of the speakers!
After “Age Of Famine” comes the atmospheric instrumental track “Ushabti Reanimator” evoking the funerary figurines used in ancient Egyptian tombs before the furious and malevolent “Rape Of The Black Earth”.
The record then concludes with another epic death metal number in the form of “To Walk Forth From Flames Unscathed” which, along with the title track and “Evil To Cast Out Evil”, is one of the highlights for me on this superb album.
Sanders stated that “…the goal for the new record was sheer epic brutality. The focus this time around is on brutal Heavy Metal riffing and songwriting…”. I think it’s fair to say that the band have most definitely fulfilled that aim. Extremely heavy, dense, intense, intelligent, technically accomplished and simply very very good…
“What Should Not Be Unearthed” tracklist:
1. Call To Destruction / 2. Negating The Abominable Coils Of Apep / 3. Liber Stellae Rubeae / 4. In The Name Of Amun / 5. What Should Not Be Unearthed / 6. Evil To Cast Out Evil / 7. Age Of Famine / 8. Ushabti Reanimator / 9. Rape Of The Black Earth / 10. To Walk Forth From Flames Unscathed