Scarab - Serpents of the Nile - (8.5/10)
Published on February 15, 2015
Combining brutal and technical death metal with Egyptian and/or Middle Eastern influences (both lyrically and musically) is not a brand-new concept anymore, with American Nile, German Maat and Iraqi Cyaxares, to name but a few, so now here comes a band that gives this a whole new level of authenticity – Cairo’s Scarab. Arisen from the ashes of Hate Suffocation in 2006, they released one critically acclaimed album in 2009, Blinding the Masses, after which a long silence ensued, until Swedish ViciSolum Productions arose and now are offering Serpents of the Nile.
Rarely do Scarab let the Egyptian influences take over the songs, but when they do, they are very well integrated, like on “Visions of a Blood River”, where these folk instruments layered over the heavy, slow rhythm create this incredibly voluminous effect that conjures up images of the Nile valley and the pyramids. But while the rest of the tracks does not feature many outright Egyptian “outbreaks”, all of them show some underlying melody or scale that stems from their home country’s rich tapestry of history and tie the whole album together.
For the death metal portion, it is what makes Serpents of the Nile such an intense experience, with an almost constant barrage of heavy riffing and the relentless rhythm section, above which Sammy Sayed lays his deep and powerful growl that just conveys this feeling of impending doom. The title track features the omni-present double-bass, with only the snare dictating the changes of pace, generating tremendous power, while the almost 9-minute colossus of “Funeral Pharaoh” starts out dark and ominous, creating this dense atmosphere, from which arises an intense and varied and above all intense track that pulls you in deeper and deeper.
Serpents of the Nile is definitely not an easy album to listen into due to its intensity, but the Egyptians loosen it up with slower, a little more epic parts and with the melodic leads, giving it all variety and flow. The Egyptian influences are always very welcome and feel authentic, never overwrought (the band’s origin probably helps with the perception of authenticity, obviously) and both these and the slower, more epic passages are much needed to give at least some moments of respite among the powerful wall of sound Scarab send through the speakers.
Scarab’s second is an excellent example of how to tastefully enrich brutal and technical death metal with just the right amount of authentic folk instruments and atmospheres, while ensuring that it will more than satisfy any fans of things brutal and powerful, intense and still interesting. Nile, move over, there is one pyramid shaped steamroller coming your way!