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Nile: What Should Not Be Unearthed

What Should Not Be Unearthed is a little more than a month away at the point of writing this. However, between the past two weeks and now, I’ve racked up a number of spins through this album, many more compared to At the Gates of Sethu. In the review of that album, I made it perfectly clear that I wasn’t too happy with the outcome, though didn’t dismiss it entirely. The biggest issue was the audio quality basically sterilizing much of the effort. So, as a huge Nile fan, I was hoping like hell this new one would show a return to force for the group. What I found prompted me to type something up about it.

I’m not going to go into this one very deep right now, but I’ll tell you that What Should Not Be Unearthed has given my neck quite the workout as of late. It’s accompanied me on a number of lengthy car rides lately, battling for my attention that has been sprawled across this, the new Powerwolf, and, yes, even the most recent Psychostick. What Should Not Be Unearthed is easily one of the more brutal major metal label releases I’ve happened upon this year, and I’m beyond happy to see the band has stepped away from much of what held the last album back.

No, this isn’t another Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka as far as bulkiness goes, though it isn’t afraid to bare those fangs later on, nor is it anywhere as bludgeoning as the latest Skinless album. If anything, it sticks to the middle ground, and it works for what the band is trying to accomplish: Punishing, sand blasted death metal. Some of the songs, however, immediately remind me of material from Ithyphalic, which is one of my favorite Nile albums. “Negating the Abominable Coils of Apep” has plenty of moments that are reminiscent of “Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve Its Possessor Against Attacks from He Who Is in the Water”, a statement that, admittedly, has me flip-flopping between unique and recycled riffs in spots.

Yes, I’ll admit it. This one’s a grower, not a shower. I didn’t take to the album right away, but the more acquainted I get with the tight guitar work, the harder it ends up hitting me. It’s not the high-end complexity you’ll find on an Origin album (though the guitar solo for “In the Name of Amun” blows me away every time to the point where I’m sure I can smell flesh burning through my speakers), but it does continue to follow suit with their most recent albums. It also has a solid slam with distant chants right after that keep the Egyptian themes alive, as if being commanded by their gods, and a punishing as all hell title track that hammers away with indecipherable gutturals and a slower pace that does manage to capture the spirit of their analog days, even when not completely creeping along.

At the moment, on a personal fanboy level, I’m only growing more and more fond of What Should Not Be Unearthed. While it doesn’t have the beefiness I much prefer with my death metal, it sure makes up the brutality with a quality that still accentuates the bass enough to make the high complexities as brutal as the slams. It has the best of both of their worlds, and the effort only grows more impressive the deeper in you get. Basically, What Should Not Be Unearthed is something that you definitely should be excited for, especially if you were let down with At the Gates of Sethu.


Digital review material for this article provided by Nuclear Blast Records.