“Death is something everyone is scared of. All the people are scared of death. When death nears, they start crying. So when you embrace death, welcome death, ‘death’ will not come to you.”
Varanasi one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Many Hindus believe that death in the city will bring salvation.
There are holy men here who celebrate, rather than fear death. Death is not a fearsome concept, but a passing from the world of illusion. The film “Beyond Varanasi” explores this concept.
Nile’s newest album “What Should Not be Unearthed” opens up like a blast of fire melting the face off a demon. They’re back heavier and faster than ever. This is quite a feat considering that Technical Death Metal has been on the way out recently. And many Death Metal bands have gone towards a more progressive or groove driven direction; which is understandable, because it’s often hard to be even heavier than what already exists, especially after Death Metal has been a genre for 20+ years.
But Nile delivers a fist full of death metal that punches you in the face with its heavy riffs, dynamic tempos, and liquid hot solos. Some of the riffs are familiar, but there are definitely some clever new licks thrown in. And of course, this album brings together what Nile fans love – fast, death metal riffs mixed with middle eastern instrumentals and scales.
KARL SANDERS DISCUSSES HIS INTENTIONS AND OPINION OF NEWEST ALBUM
In an interview with Metal Wani, Karl Sanders (Nile’s Vocalist and Guitarist) said he wanted to take a different direction than their last album, “At The Gates of Sethu.” Sethu was a very clean and technical album, written for studio perfection. But as Karl says, this newest album was all about the fans, and giving them what they want. It was also more about feeling than technicality. “Is it heavy, does it emotionally move me?”
Many interviews and reviews have already dealt with the technicalities of the music. In short, I will say in this album there are more mid-range growls than the low growls of the past (I can actually understand the lyrics!). The guitars and bass are also turned up a bit higher in volume than previous albums. As George Kollias (the drummer) is quoted as saying, “I can’t hear my fucking drums!” (Metal Wani). In terms of skill level, the song “What Should Not Be Unearthed” was apparently one of the hardest songs George Kollias has played in his life.
But what I’d like to delve into is the meaning behind the music – the vibe – the soul of the album so to speak. Topically, this is about things that shouldn’t be unearthed (yeah I know, the title says that, duh!)
The following was said about the artwork: The story behind the title goes deeply beneath everything we have already known, and we may not be ready to face. With the art I excavated the theories of an elder ancient civilization which could give the origin to ancient Egypt. That’s why you can find a new ingredient in the band imagery, pointing at some higher obscure intelligence, eroding and covered with time. (Nuclear Blast)
So there is definitely this theme of an eerie, and an ancient spirit being accidentally unleashed like some horror movie mummy.
But what no interview has discussed is the modern middle eastern implications as well.
CALL TO DESTRUCTION – OPENING ALBUM TRACK
The video for “Call to Destruction” very deliberately shows video footage of terrorist groups (like The Islamic State) destroying ancient relics. The lyrics very obviously point to this.
Call to destruction of the symbols of paganism
Grand monuments of idolatry
We must tear down these blasphemous edifices of heathenism
We must annihilate all that is pre Islamic
We must complete what the ‘Amr ibn al-‘As could not
We must tear down these relics of infidelity
Great and mighty works of blasphemy
Mountains of ancient heresy
Sacrilege encased in stone
From thousands of years before the Prophet…
So there is no mistaking that this is a theme (at least for that song).
Nile doesn’t just discuss the ancient Middle East, they also discuss the modern Middle East as well sometimes. For instance, in the “Those Whom The Gods” detest album, there was the song Kafir, which is the word for “heretic” or “unbeliever” in Islam.
So now it’s time for my conjecture (JUST MY OPINION, NOTHING OFFICIAL): I think the Islamic State’s destruction of ancient relics is relevant to many of the themes of other songs in the album. That may have been unintentional or intentional on their part (I don’t know). I just saw a theme: a theme in terms of unearthing or destroying relics of ancient history that should remain untouched. And the actions of IS/ISIS fit into that theme. “Rape of the Black Earth” discusses destroying entire blocs of history, objects that have not been disturbed for millennia, and temples of the Gods defiled. “Age of Famine” also references unheard of atrocities, noble women becoming slave and whores, and children being dashed against walls, and people turning against each other…hmm that sounds familiar to what’s in the news.
Now am I saying this is what this album is all about? No I am not. Karl himself said this wasn’t a concept album.
Or maybe the whole album was really just Karl describing his hatred of unearthing the precious Earth metals that create cell phones (see interview).(Or maybe that’s a joke…)
The last song is “To Walk Forth from the Flames Unscathed.” So perhaps this is somewhat of a hopeful ending to an album with several songs about the destruction and violation of ancient history.
Evil to Cast out Evil is a killer track. Check that out to get a further taste of the delicious mayhem that is Nile’s newest album.
EVIL TO CAST OUT EVIL
Genre: Death/Black Metal
Themes: Grimness, Darkness, Apocalypse,
Band Location: Bahrain
The name “Smoldering in Forgotten” was inspired by a Goatwhore song, “Upon This Deathbed of Cold Fire.” Smoldering in Forgotten is another great metal band to come out of the Middle East.
Their style was originally black metal, but now they’ve grown to encompass a large variety of styles: including death, thrash and even incorporating aspects of Arabic traditional music. Their dynamic, live performances have delighted audiences across the gulf.
The drummer Mohammed Ishaq says that it can be difficult to arrange a show in Bahrain and elsewhere in the region, because venues distrust metal bands and their often rambunctious fans. Yet metal in Bahrain has apparently come a long way since the band first formed in 2005.
Ishaq says, “Back then, the only way to see live metal was to watch the occasional covers band play at a hotel’s battle of the bands night, but since then, the number of metal bands in Bahrain has grown, as has the size of their creative ambition and their audiences.” (The National Arts and Lifestyle).I have no doubt that Smouldering in Forgotten’s dynamic live performances have helped the Bahrain metal scene grow over the years.
Unfortunately I couldn’t find much of their stuff on YouTube, but I believe the song I posted above is a good eerie and melodic introduction to their work.
Country of origin: China
Genre: Mongolian, Folk Death Metal
Themes: Tengrism, Shamanism, Mythology
In Mongolian shamanism, Tengger (also spelt Tengeri) is the sky-father, lord of the celestial sphere.
I’ve posted a song from this band before, and now I’m posting another because that’s just how good these guys are. Tengger Calvary’s music evokes the raw power of ancient armies on horseback riding across the vast Manchurian Steppe. The band links their music to a traditional Mongolian sound by their use of throat singing – a unique type of vocals in which two different pitches are produced at the same time. This style of singing was developed by the Mongolian people as part of an animistic belief set. Animism is the belief that objects of nature have their own spiritual power. Throat singing takes this a step further by imitating the sounds of nature itself.
In addition to achieving the ambiance and feeling of Mongolian Shamanism, the band’s musicians also implement their own death metal technicality, in terms of powerful guitar solos and heavy drums. Tengger Calvary successfully combines elements of Folk and Death metal in a way that doesn’t feel forced or synthetic. If Genghis Khan and his armies rose from the dead and started playing metal – this is pretty much what it would sound like.
Of course there is also the obvious fact that there are not that many folk metal bands in the world that write songs about Mongolian Spirituality and Myth, so these guys are truly a gem.
TENGGER CALVARY LINKS
WANT TO LEARN ABOUT MONGOLIAN SHAMANISM?
Before the advent of the Romans, Britain was a place with its own sophisticated, spiritual culture.
Once the Romans did arrive, they wrote that the British had no fear of death.
This lack of fear may have had a connection to their ancestral beliefs about life in the after-world.
The after-world was a very big part of life for the ancient British people.
In fact, it was so important, that several tombs dotted the land.
The title of this documentary is a bit misleading, since it isn’t entirely about the druids.
But it did discuss the purpose of Stonehenge and interesting information on British Ancestral Worship.
Ah yeah…just imagine blasting this song in your favorite Megaman level.
Hungry for horror? Looking for some brutal, metal tunes to crank as you bash open zombie brains? Look no further. We got what you need.
Ramesses – Baptism of the Walking Dead
Genre: Death/Doom Metal.
Review: Erie, haunting and infused with droning horror. I give this song 7 zombie brains out of 10.
Nile – Eat of the Dead
Genre: Brutal Technical Death Metal
Review: How can you not love this deliciously brutal song? It punches you in the face with riffs that are both powerful and technically written. The vocals are guttural and grotesque – like the excruciating cries of a man being mummified alive. I give this song 8 rotting corpses out of 10.
Vader – God is Dead
Genre: Death Metal/ Thrash
Review: You say this isn’t a zombie song? I thought Jesus was a zombie. Doesn’t he come back from the dead? Also, I love Vader and wanted an excuse to post one of their songs. Their vocals are so diabolically dark and evil – the vocalist sounds like he gargles glass and bat’s blood for breakfast. This song definitely gets 8 upside down crosses out of 10.
Kataklysm – The Night They Returned
Genre: Death Metal/Melodic Death
Review: Gotta love those Kataklysm drums. Their drummer is a beast. This song is a good balance of brutality and ominous dread. It gets 7 decayed tomb stones out of 10 from me.
Cannibal Corpse – Hammer Smashed Face
Genre: Classic Death Metal
Review: Any self respecting metal head who is not familiar with this song should get their face smashed in by a hammer. This is a classic Death Metal hit. I give this 9 skulls out of 10. Yes, I’m biased for classics.
Fun Facts: This song made a short appearance in Jim Carrey’s “Ace Ventura Pet Detective” Film.
Judas Priest – Night Crawler
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review: Holy shit I love me some priest! This is probably my favorite zombie song hands down. Chock full of punching riffs, great melodies and dynamic-chilling Halford Vocals. If I were stuck in a zombie apocalypse, I would love nothing better than to kill the living dead with priest blasting out of my speakers. Than I would ride away with Halford on his motorcycle and we’d have a fun platonic time (since he plays for the other team so to speak). This song gets 10 blood soaked axes out of 10 baby!