Review: Nile – What Should Not Be Unearthed


South Carolina death metallers Nile have released their eighth studio album, What Should Not Be Unearthed. Being a gigantic Nile fanboy, I jumped at the opportunity to review it… so do we leave it buried Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka or do we, um, Unearth it? (I’m so sorry for that.)

If you’re unfamiliar with Nile, let me first welcome you to the world of heavy metal and give you a quick history: The band has been crafting Egyptian-themed death metal since 1993, releasing their first LP in 1998. Though not a tech death band, their playing style does rely heavily on precise and focused technique (just with no weedles and deedles or purple artwork). The band’s lineup has been rather stable since 2005, consisting of originator Karl Sanders on guitar/vokills, Dallas Toler-Wade also on guitar/vokills, and George Kollias on drums.

Karl-sanders-2 Dallas_Toler-Wade_of_Nile_2 GeorgeKollias

These guys are really good musicians.  Like VERY really good.

The last time we met with Nile in 2012 they had released At the Gate of Sethu, an album that was met with a fair amount of criticism, mainly over the production. Simply put, the guitars lacked punch: listening to that album, you might think the bass was turned all the way down on your stereo; the entire thing just sounds thin and heavily processed. Worry no more, for Nile has remedied all production issues with What Should Not Be Unearthed and one listen to the first single “Call to Destruction” should assuage any cautious listener:

This song provides a great cross-section of elements that we’ve come to expect from the band: deathy, middle-eastern tinged riffs (particularly between 1:35 and 1:50) juxtaposed with doomier passages and a gorgeous guitar solo. The song also brings with it a rejuvenated sense of anger from the band, as evidenced both by the lyrical content and harsh vocals. However, the first problem occurs once the next track, “Negating the Abominable Coils of Apep” kicks in with all of the same elements, dangerously similar to the one which came before it… and then again on the third track. So while consistency can be a good attribute, a little more creativity in the songwriting would have helped greatly.

Even the better songs on the album are not without drawbacks. For example,”Rape of the Black Earth” is a ferocious death metal beast that doesn’t slow down once in its 4:35 run time, but there’s nothing uniquely Nile contained within; I could envision 20 other death metal bands playing it. The second single “Evil to Cast Out Evil” does a great job of sounding like Nile and would fit on a greatest hits compilation, but is much too similar to “Utterances of the Crawling Dead” from Those Whom the Gods Detest.

The instrumentation is extraordinary as always, for I can at any point focus my attention on the current riff and be blown away at the skill, speed and precision at play. Their drummer is a beast of a man: George can blastbeat like a supercharged metronome and switch speeds at the drop of a hat, interjecting fills as he sees fit. Particularly appealing are the times when the guitars slow down to a doomy crawl, and while pounding the double-bass pedal he’s inserting interesting little flourishes with the rest of his kit, most notably in the middle of the title track.

The biggest gripe I have with What Should Not Be Unearthed is that even after multiple listens, very few of the songs remain memorable, like the band is on autopilot. Honestly, I had a difficult time composing this review because it easily drifted into the background of my mind. This wasn’t an issue I’ve had with any prior Nile release, for example every song off of Those Whom the Gods Detest was instantly memorable and creative enough to survive multiple listens. The best guitar riffs off this album can’t match those from classics like “As He Creates, So He Destroys” and don’t even try finding a solo as good as those from “Cast Down the Heretic“.

Though a technically proficient album with improved production over its predecessor, there aren’t more than two or three really good songs. What Should Not Be Unearthed is an album that won’t get Lavished to the Slave Stick, but it’s also not worth Masturbating the War God over (sorry for that as well). I still love the band and will continue to support them, so this album will just serve as a mild road-bump for me.


2 / 5 Toilets ov Hell ™

What Should Not Be Unearthed was released on Nuclear Blast records.

(images via Nuclear Blast, Guitar Muse, Wikipedia, and Eternal Terror)

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  • Scrimm

    Actually pretty close to what my experience was. Traded mine a while ago. Just boring.

  • Vote for Jeb

    I didn’t think this album was terribly, but it wasn’t particularly memorable either. I’ve probably only made it through once, but I didn’t hate it. Lukewarm, I guess.

    • Óðinn


  • Joey Jo-Jo Junior Shabadoo

    I was heavily into Nile until Ityphallic and Those whom the gods detest but the following albums lacked the spice that kept me listening.
    Still incredible musicians though

    • Vote for Jeb

      Ithyphallic takes a lot of flak, but I think it is an incredibly diverse record.

      • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

        Wait… isn’t Ithyphallic universally praised as their best (just below Annihilation and Darkened Shrines)?

        • Vote for Jeb

          Nope. It’s pretty contentious.

      • People who hate Ithyphallic are posers and will be slain

        • …. then buried with The Essential Salts.

        • Boss the Ross

          With Steel!

    • Boss the Ross

      I really enjoyed those whom the gods detest. 4th Arra of Dagon is crushing.

  • Hubert

    Nice to see some negative reviews on this Toilet. Usually albums only get reviewed when the reviewers like them on here.

    • Our new editorial direction is to shit on everyone and everything. Look forward to Dan Swano: What a Fuckin’ Hack

      • Anyone who plays in a band named Unicorn, has to be a hack.

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        If you’re going to shit on everything, then why in Satan’s name was I NOT contacted? It’s like, what I do man.

      • PostBlackenedWhaleGaze

        ….but, Dan Swanö is the man!

  • Sometimes I feel like albums can leave a bad taste in your mouth for a number of reasons. For instance if the singles leading up to the release are lackluster, if it is released near another bands album that you are digging, or if you are burnt out from a band.

    I burnt out on Nile awhile ago, but since I was ready for new tunes I feel like I was able to stick with the new songs till I had them totally and utterly digested.

    Having completed my 15th listen through this morning, I am going to have to disagree, 5 outta 5. I am hooked.


  • Based Pingu

    I thought Jimmy loved this album!

    • everything up to it

    • Poopypantys Studmuffin General
      • Based Pingu
        • Poopypantys Studmuffin General

          Damn, this is pretty fucking good! Check out the King 810 stuff. I shit you not, they’ve grown up!

          • Based Pingu

            What stuff are you talking about?

          • join the FB group and you’ll know what he’s talking about.
            of course you still can’t trust him…

          • Based Pingu

            Join the FB group? NEVER!

          • what in the actual WTF? it’s not a bad song.

          • Poopypantys Studmuffin General

            I know! They’ve definitely improved by leaps and bounds, and finally lost the Slipknot-isms. Plus the singer doesn’t sound like he’s running out of breath every two words.

          • Poopypantys Studmuffin General

            Oops, I thought you were talking about the new King 810 video I posted. This new Deafheaven is pretty darn tootin’ good!

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    Just talking about this band yesterday to a friend of mine. Haven’t listened to them consistently in years.

  • I think I’d rather hate an album than be 100% meh on it


    An album that was definately better than at the gates of sethu, though certainly nt their best. Id have given it a 3 or 3.5 out of 5

  • i hope Karl doesn’t see this. he’s as nice as can be.

  • I thought it was just an okay album. Not great or bad.


    this was definitely yawn

  • Max

    Interesting. I bowed out of Nile after Black Seeds of Vengeance; and even that stays in my collection mainly because Derek Roddy’s drumming on it is like the textbook of blasting techniques or something.

    I always thought they were more effective as songwriters when they based their riff progressions around a singular theme, as on “The Opening of the Mouth.” But that’s in the minority of their output, it seems.

  • Waynecro

    Nice review, McNulty. I like this record, but it doesn’t have a lot of memorable songs on it. It’s good gym music, though.

  • I only really liked the single they released. Everything else on the album is quite meh to me. Same with Decapitated’s album last year. Great review though.

  • OldMetalHead

    Love reading a review from a fanboy that’s not all gushing praise. Nice one McNulty!

  • Poopypantys Studmuffin General

    Love their CD’s but their live set pretty much sucked for me.

  • Óðinn

    That Call to Destruction song feels really cliché and lazy. I never thought I’d say that about Nile. I wanted to like this, but it kind of falls flat.