Sound — 7
"What Should Not Be Unearthed" is the eighth studio album by extreme metal veterans Nile. A band famous for their highly accomplished and unique take on the death metal sound, they've also helped influence the genre without having to compromise themselves.
After the decent but somewhat tepid "At the Gates of Sethu," this new release looks to bring the inner beast to bear in the wake of various recent global events.
Nile have a certain twist about them and that's an appreciation for Egyptian mythology, middle eastern melodic influences and an artful ear for writing accessible riffs. Keeping strong to this theme, we start with explosive number "Call to Destruction." The signature sounding of Karl Sanders and Dallas Toler-Wade automatically invoke the destructive objective of this piece. It's hard not to find oneself being rushed by the sheer intensity of it all. True to a proper Nile track, the mid-way slam riffs hammer home in fist-pounding fashion.
Thankfully, there's still a certain, technical edge to the music that still remains fairly intriguing if not straight up mind-blowing at times ("Evil to Cast out Evil" comes to mind. Speaking of which, dat solo). It's something that all Nile albums have, but there's a bit of freshness here and there in the details. It's the subtle kind of writing spark that keeps them apart from being lumped in with peers.
If there was one main negative thing to say, it would be that there's a lack of "instant classics." For Nile, these would be songs like "Sarcophagus" and "Papyrus to Something Something the incredibly long name with." Not to say all the songs are samey, far from it: "In the Name of Amun," "Evil to Cast Out Evil" and "Age of Famine" have a nice spread of styles between them, from death-doom riffs to the melody of "Evil..." The problem is that none of them quite reach the same memorability level as previous "instant classics." That being said, compared to the previous release, the overall song quality is higher.
Side note: surprisingly enough, the mix is actually very strong for this album. The guitar tone is perhaps a bit too distorted (as is fitting a general trope of death metal) but the balance is strong.
Lyrics — 8
Nile is kind of like a power trio of vocalists. Karl Sanders' distinctive and commanding mid range vocals are rhythmically strong as ever and the balancing of these and the lowest growls feels just right. Having the sort of imperialistic march feel from the riffs needs that sort of vocal presence and it's something that's been a part of Nile for a very long time.
That said, there's only a bit of space where the vocals aren't actually in play. At times, even for a death metal album (and a Nile album at that, which usually has a lot of dynamic space), these vocal parts are a near constant, without a lot of emphasis on the instrumental parts. This feels like a bit of a wasted resource but it's not too much to the albums detriment.
Lyrically, Nile is reknowned for their Egyptian aesthetic and musical influence, and to be on album eight with the same strength and power in these lyrical themes almost feels like a public duty at this point. The point there is, there aren't that many metal bands who attempt the "Asian cultural infusion" idea.
Some such as Melechesh and Chthonic do it with success, but the number is still small. Nile still feel relevant for keeping these ideas alive, especially with expressing the mythological aspect.
Overall Impression — 7
Overall, "What Should Not Be Unearthed" is still a strong Nile album, staying to their strengths but their strengths are often quite unique for a death metal band. Although lacking some distinctive crowd-pleasers, this album is a full on masterwork in brutality and tasteful technicality.
Songs to look out for: "Call to Destruction," "In the Name of Amun," "Evil to Cast Out Evil," "To Walk Forth From Flames Unscathed."