A pyramid shaped trap-door stands surrounded by maggots, opening itself ever so slightly, yet, not enough to let the unfathomable horror beneath it to escape. The door is engraved with detailed hieroglyphs from the ‘Book of the Dead’ and a winged scarab rests at the center, protecting whatever is inside. These elements form Michael ‘Xaay’ Loranc’s compelling artwork for Nile‘s latest album titled ‘What Should Not Be Unearthed’ scheduled to release on August 28th via Nuclear Blast Records. Much like its riveting artwork, Nile delivers a crushing slab of Technical Death Metal engraved skillfully with tenacious grooves that is bound to make you its perpetual slave (if you weren’t one already).
Considering it’s their eighth studio album, many would have started to believe that the dizzying heights of infatuation are over and may well be predicting the start of a slow decline for the band. However, the initial few seconds of the opener “Call to Destruction” is all it takes to put those thoughts to rest. Right from the starting second, the band takes you down violently with its pummeling grooves and hooks you with its razor sharp death metal riffage. Vocalist Karl Sanders screams his throat off to cut through the belligerence and George Kollias relentlessly follows with his trademark machine-gun like double bass mayhem. Almost midway through the track, the chaotic riffage transforms to a mid tempo groove laden gallop which gives Kollias space to put in some interesting fills and enhance the groove. It is one hell of an opener and you cannot take it sitting down. Sanders rounds up the track with a screechy solo which leads into the intro riff thus, completing the circle. As the track ends, a realization dawns that this album is everything that you wanted it to be.
Nile sheds the progressive elements that we witnessed in “Ithyphallic” and “At The Gates Of Sethu” to give us a more heavier sounding album. “Liber Stellae – Rubaeae” crushes your ear drums with an unrelenting surge of blast beats and double bass over which the buzz saw like tremolo riffage coil around like a serpentine. Kollias’ drums sound meatier and thankfully lose the slightly hollow snare sound that we witnessed in their previous albums. “Liber Stellae – Rubaeae” keeps on getting faster as it progresses, increasing the intensity every second only to climax in a sudden pause before the band explodes again with an even greater intensity and trust me that moment will make your jaws drop.
The guitars on this album are slightly louder as compared to the drums and sometimes overpower it in the mix, but it works in favor of the band as it amplifies the heaviness of the album. “In The Name Of Amun” starts off with a typical acoustic middle-eastern arrangement that is distinctive of Nile. It acts as a breather from the mayhem witnessed thus far, but not for long. Lasting less than a minute, the acoustic passage gives way to a crushing wall of distortion as Sanders and Dallas Toller-Wader team up to create a whirling vortex of Death Metal riffagery. Kollias is unceasingly intense on this track and his god like skills are at its full unabashed display throughout. This is one of the longest tracks of the album and goes through different moods. It has a scorching solo midway through the track that leads into a slower section with the guitars laying down a sinister groovy base over which we hear Egyptian chants amidst Sander’s deathly growls. After “In The Name Of Amun”, the album sheds some of the frantic pace and heads towards a moody and a sinister direction. Especially the title track “What Should Not Be Unearthed” is a ghastly mix of creepy sounding guitar scales over Nile’s trademark aggressive base. Midway it stomps around with an intense breakdown before pausing for a moment only to rise up again like a snake with the most sinister riff ever accompanied by primitive sounding instrumentation in the background. It is by far the creepiest track of the album and the band truly delivers a sound apt for the title track.
To sum up, nobody can deny the amazing musicianship each band member possesses, but on this album, they successfully combine it to create a force that surpasses their individual talents. “What Should Not Be Unearthed” delivers a sound that is flawless and intensely brutal. This is exactly how Death Metal should sound like. Period.