Scarab
Serpents of the Nile

It would be easy for a casual death metal listener or fan to look at Scarab‘s moniker, imagery, song titles like “Calling Forth the Ancient Spirits of Kemet”, “Days of a Burial Mask”, and “Funeral Pharaoh” and long song runtime and instantly assume these guys are a Nile ripoff. And to some extent that’s true, as any death metal band formed after 1993 and plying Egyptian/Middle Eastern themes in their death metal is going to be associated with Nile. However, once you learn that these guys are actually from Egypt, and not ya know, South Carolina, and been around in one form or another since 2001, they garner a little more credence.

But the imagery, themes and the abundance of sandy, Arabic synths and riffs is where the similarity ends, if still erstwhile for those wanting an easy point of reference. Scarab‘s take on death metal is far more tempered, melodic and mid paced, rather than Nile‘s more brutal vortex. Think Hypocrisy‘s mid paced chuggers or Morbid Angel‘s Gateways to Annihilation, but less twisty. The lengthy songs (5 to 9 minutes) are generally much more controlled and precise, like a camel’s steady plod through the endless dunes, and although there are ample moments of more swirling urgency, the entire album is rooted in more deliberate double bass marches.

After the intro, “Calling Forth the Ancient Spirits of Kemet”, the album’s longest and arguably best track, “Visions of  Blood River”, highlights the band’s considerable strengths. Unmistakable Egyptian atmospheres and riffs, gruff death metal bellows and a stern, consistent gait littered with more urgent blasts. And while this formula pretty well dominates the rest of the album’s next 6 tracks, it’s well done enough and contains enough memorable and solid riffs to keep you enthralled.

And, the Egyptian element isn’t overdone or forced either. The band’s innate geography comes over naturally in the shifting keys and serpentine riffs rather than lengthy chants or instrumentals. The likes of “Funeral Pharaoh”, “The Afterlife Illusions”, and the closer “Days of Burial Mask” all deliver essentially the same pace and atmospherics very well. The shorter, more direct title track and “Pyramid of Illusions” get a little more aggressive and to the point, but all rendered with the Arabic sway and shimmer.

No, these guys are not Nile, and probably have more in common with the likes of Coffin Texts or Narjahanam, but regardless, they have delivered a very solid album that adds yet another quality Middle Eastern inspired death metal act to the growing fold.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
March 11th, 2015

Comments

  1. Commented by: iwein

    Bought it. Very decent album.


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