Guest Post: Atli Jarl Martin – Top Ten Albums Of 2015

Eistnaflug 2016 banner

As we dash towards the holidays and the end of the year Ghost Cult is feeling good about this season of giving. So we are giving our fans a chance to get to know our partners, peers, and friends from bands in the world of music. They will chime in with some guest blogs, end of year lists, and whatever else is on their minds as we pull the plug on 2015. Today we have Atli Jarl Martin, promoter and digital go to guy for Eistnaflug Festival, who happily lives with his 19 computers and has a huge affection for his ThinkPads, shared his list of favorite releases of this year with us.

It’s been a strange year for me personally and a bit hard to keep up with as many releases I’ve done in recent years, Nevertheless I managed to build a list of some 70 releases which I have now filtered down to my final Top 10, whereas the top 5 releases could have all ended up in my top slot. I guess that most releases that made the cut won’t come as a surprise to anyone that knows me, but I hope that there are at least a couple that you haven’t listened to yet, and might give it a spin. 2016 is looking tremendously exciting already, first and foremost with the release of Rotting Christ’s new album Rituals early in the year. But for 2015, here goes…


1. Thy CatafalqueSgúrr (Season Of Mist)

Thy Catafalque sgurr album cover 2015

Definitely the most delightful surprise of 2015. Following the incredible 2011 album Rengeteg, I became a huge fan of the talent and musicianship of Tamás Kátai, as this is a one-man project, and his vast and diverse musical wizardry is way above and beyond what most other musicians present. The musical direction Tamás takes on Sgúrr is hugely different than what is presented on Rengeteg and the earlier albums, one might say colder, bleaker and harsher, where ‘f.e. Jura’, a straight forward blisteringly fast black metal track made my jaw drop, as it was wholly unexpected. I can really say the same about pretty much every track on the album, which is a phenomenal roller coaster ride through amazing variety of styles and sounds. Just listen to ‘Oldódó Formák a Halál Titokzatos Birodalmáb’, a 15:21 minute ride through a sublime variety of styles and a showcase track on just how multi-talented Tamás Kátai is. A beautiful work of art.


2. Lost SoulAtlantis: The New Beginning (Apostasy Records)

Lost Soul Atlantis

Yes, they fucking did it again. These Polish wizards, led by mainman Jacek Grecki, pretty much blew everyone’s mind back in 2009 with their absolutely phenomenal Immerse In Infinity album, which shared the top-slot on my list back then with my favorite, and ever so lovable Finns in Amorphis (more on them later). Lost Soul are finally back after 6 long years, but the wait was so worth it. Atlantis is every bit as fast and brutal, yet Grecki and his merry men have managed to push their music further into the technical and progressive realms, bringing you one, if not THE pinnacle of technical death metal offerings of all-times. Listening to this album leaves me dumb-struck with awe, every-single-time, such is the wizardry performed here. Perfection!


3. MelecheshEnki (Nuclear Blast)

melechesh 2

5 years after the release of the fantastic The Epigenesis album, and after a plethora of lineup changes, Melechesh return with Enki, yet another masterpiece of an album. Uncompromising as always, adhering to their sublime Middle Eastern music influenced extreme metal concoction, Melechesh apparently can do no wrong. While The Epigenesis took a tad more progressive turn, with sublimely heavy and thundering songs, Enki returns back to the faster, more intense songwriting as presented on their earlier albums, such as Emissaries and Sphynx. I was fortunate enough to finally see the band on stage last May, and the experience was mind-blowing. Among the best musical entities on the planet. Period.


4. AmorphisUnder the Red Cloud (Nuclear Blast)

Amorphis, by Hillarie Jason

Amorphis, by Hillarie Jason

As a very, very long time fan of the band, their current lineup, starting with their absolute best album, Eclipse (2006), almost every album since has been a tour-de-force, showcasing the enormous capacity of the bands collective skills in songwriting and musicianship, as well as being one of the hardest working bands out there, as this is their 6th full-length album in only 9 years. Under the Red Cloud very much takes up the thread from the stellar 2013 album, Circle, but the band is in absolute top-form here, as every song on the album is outstanding. Songs like ‘The Four Wise Ones’, ‘Bad Blood’, ‘Dark Path’, and the phenomenal ‘Tree of Ages’, have made the album my most heavily rotated album from the band since 2006, and there is no letting up on how often I spin it. Masterpiece.


5. ClutchPsychic Warfare (Weathermaker Music)

Clutch, by Evil Robb Photography

Clutch, by Evil Robb Photography

Yes indeed, here‘s another super-hard working band which has been dishing out release after release of superior quality since, well, forever. Their 2004 album Blast Tyrant is perhaps my favorite rock album of all-time, and their subsequent albums, albeit all having different qualities, none really came close to it in overall groove and fierceness, until now. Psychic Warfare absolutely hits every mark of excellence that Blast Tyrant presented. Every song is superb, the lyrics are fantastic, and the whole album pops and clicks on every beat, every groove, and infuses that good old feeling of strapping on an air-guitar and do a bit of headbanging while singing along to Neil Fallon’s often hysterically funny rants and phrases. As I write this, there are only 2 days until I see the band onstage for the first time, and the anticipation for seeing the tracks from this album presented is making me all giddy. Woohoo!


6. Keep of KalessinEpistemology (Indie Recordings)


This is an album I actually had high expectations for, specially after hearing the 2013 EP Introspection, which was the first release from the band following Arnt “Obsidian C.” Grønbech taking over the vocal duties after Thebon‘s departure earlier that year. Their first full-length album in 5 years, I was supremely happy to hear that Keep of Kalessin is very much up to the task as a three-piece outfit, and musically, the album is a healthy blend of the more commercial aspect of 2009‘s Reptilian and the earlier fierce and blazingly fast Armada (2006) and Kolossus (2008). Stand-out tracks and passages on the album are many, but the pinnacle is most certainly ‘The Grand Design’, a track that easily rivals the best of their earlier works, and was absolutely amazing to witness on stage. The band is in top-form at the moment and I can‘t wait for the successor, just hope that I won‘t have to wait 5 years for it.


7. George KolliasInvictus (Season of Mist)


This master of extreme metal drumming certainly has had a busy schedule in recent years, touring and playing with Nile, as well as releasing drum lesson videos and attending drum clinics, but there were a couple of his own songs available on YouTube, rough mixed and non-vocal demos. Very cool stuff, but nothing that really prepared me for the delicious death metal assault he put together on this first solo album of his. It is a showcase of enormous death metal talent, as Kollias plays every instrument on the album, as well as performing vocals, but the album also features guest performances from many prominent musicians, such as Karl Sanders and Dallas Toler-Wade (Nile), George Emmanuel (Rotting Christ) and Efthimis Karadimas (Nightfall), to name but a few. Overall a fantastic death metal trip, modern in technicality, speed, sound and feel, blended with a healthy dose of some old school riffing, but what really amazed me the most is Kollias‘ vocal performance, which ranks among the best I‘ve heard in a long time. Highly recommended.


8. HateCrvsade: Zero (Napalm Records)


Being a very early release this year, as it came out in late January, this album has had way more spins than many other albums on my list, but it is definitely to its credit that it ends up on my Top 10 list, as the re-playability of the album is phenomenal. Mainman Adam “ATF Sinner” Buszko and his band mates strengthen the already very impressive legacy of the band and their highly energetic style of death metal getting stronger with each subsequent album. One of my favorite bands for sure.


9. NileWhat Should Not Be Unearthed (Nuclear Blast)


Another album I had really high expectations for in 2015, and they were not betrayed. Nile have been on a remarkably consistent roll since the release of Those Whom The Gods Detest in 2009, followed by At the Gate of Sethu (2012) which has since then bulldozed its way to being my second all-time favorite album by the band. The band pulls no left hooks here, plowing onwards and upwards with their instantly recognizable brand of death metal mastery. Super-heavy, blazing fast and tremendously well executed, track after track just thunders through and the confidence and coherence displayed by the band is absolutely why they are one of the biggest extreme metal acts in the world today.


10. Malevolent CreationDead Man‘s Path (Century Media)

Aaaah, like a warm blanket, listening to a new Malevolent Creation, one of my all-time favorite bands, is always a very pleasant experience. I’ve been following these old masters almost since the beginning of their career, and despite the very turbulent history of band members, they always manage to land on their feet, providing me with that deliciously violent old-school death metal that I love so much. Dead Man‘s Path is pure Malevolence, and the band and the music sound better than they have done since the magnificent Envenomed came out in 2000. No-one can destroy this Malevolent Creation.

Nile – What Should Not Be Unearthed


It’s a bit hard to fathom that Nile guitarist and mastermind Karl Sanders is still creating some of the unholy sounds in extreme metal at the age of 52. Other musicians at that age are releasing Lou Reed collaborations that only serve to undermine their legacies. Not Nile.

The Nile modus operandi on eighth studio album What Should Not Be Unearthed (Nuclear Blast) remains the same. Healthy doses of Egyptian mysticism and history (sample: “We must cut off the head of the Spinx. Timeless guardian of the ancient pharaohs”) with the occasional dash of Lovecraftian imagery set to the kind of searing death metal that recalls prime Morbid Angel. Maybe that’s why I have such an affinity for Sanders and his art, he was there to pick up the pieces when Morbid Angel was losing creative steam being dogged down by unsuccessful experimentation.

Experimentation is kept a very base minimum here as the album opens to aural punishment that is ‘Call to Destruction.’ We are then hit with the swift hyperblast one-two of ‘Negating the Abominable Coils of Apep’ and ‘Liber Stellae – Rubaeae.’ This is the kind of fiery death metal that hurts so good like Dying Fetus or early Gorguts. Also for the real tech heavy crowd check the finger cramping opening riff in ‘Evil To Cast Out Evil.’

But it’s not all fire and brimstone as death jams like ‘In the Name of Amun’ and ‘Age of Famine’ give way to breadth and dizzying tempo changes. Title track ‘What Should Not Be Unearthed’ also follows this pattern and allows for a real nice low and slow breakdown. And even when operating at a more gradual cadence, human drum machine George Kolias makes sure to load up the double-bass pummel.

In a genre where many of their peers are still spewing out murder fantasies and are fascinated with the undead, Nile stands out with a mix of intellectual lyrics and musical proficiency. If the prog fans and metal elitists can get past the death grunts and learn to love the blast beat they may just find a band fawn over other than Dream Theater.



The Anti-Technician – Karl Sanders of Nile

Karl Sanders of Nile. Photo by Hannah Verbeuren

“I’ve really become sick to death of where some bands have taken this idea of Technical Death Metal. What Should Not Be Unearthed (Nuclear Blast) is what I’ve been referring to as an “anti-technique” album. We are playing what’s generally called Technical Death Metal, but I see people playing songs that are composed of fast arpeggios, and tapping, and just a barrage of insane riffs that are all awesome, don’t get me wrong, but I walk away from it going ‘That was fucking awesome but I can’t remember a goddamn thing I just listened to’.”

Karl Sanders of Nile. is right. The death of the song, particularly in extreme metal, is a personal bugbear, as what made classic Death Metal great was that despite the raging, despite the brutality and extremity and full on technical ability of a lot of the greats of the genre, Death Metal used to be about songs. Many bands now are so concerned with showing off their flawless technique they’ve forgotten about “the song”. It’s a concept I remember speaking to Trey Azagthoth (a long-time friend of Sanders) back on the Formulas Fatal To The Flesh (Earache) tour, that technique is there to help you achieve the soundscapes and ideas in your head, but it should never be about how quick your fingers can flurry up and down the fretboard, how fucked-up a jazzy passage can be; unless it benefits the song, what is the point…?

“This album is anti-technique. I said to myself when I was writing “I’m not going to give a fuck whether this riff is hard to play, or whether it’s tricky or whether it’s simple or whatever the fuck it is, it doesn’t fucking matter. What matters is that it’s heavy, and I fucking like it. It might be a simple riff. It might mean it’s a tough riff. But the idea is the song is of paramount importance, and the riff is just a means to frigging get there.

“It’s automatically assumed, like a given in geometry – whenever you do a geometric equation, you start with a set of givens, they give you that, it’s bang, you gotta start there – being able to play your guitar is a given in technical metal; if you can’t play, you don’t get to walk through the door.

“So, this idea of anti-technique was mentally very liberating, it helped us to think “Let’s just write songs that fans will fucking appreciate, and we’ll have fun playing” and that’s the only concern we will go by.”

The Morbid Angel’s, the Death’s, even the Cannibal Corpse’s of this world possess or possessed some incredible musicians, but they all got to the status they did through writing great songs. It’s a shame that the skill seems to be getting lost in a flurry of arpeggios and syncopation.

“I don’t think it’s fair to the people listening to it. I think there’s a symbiotic, yin and yang relationship with the listener. For music to exist, someone has got to play it and someone’s got to listen to it. And if you don’t care about both sides of the equation, the shit will get out of fucking balance, and I think there’s been a lot of disrespect for listeners in recent years.”

Nile. Photo by Hannah Verbeuren.

I recently had the joy of reading and reviewing ‘Choosing Death’ by Albert Mudrian. In it he highlighted that when Nile first burst on the scene, Death Metal was flagging. He mentioned you as the leaders of the Rebirth of Death Metal, and the band that helped “save” Death Metal… Did it feel like that at the time, was it an inspiration or the metaphoric albatross?

“It’s kinda like the Life of Brian movie. Brian is not actually a messiah, but everyone just thinks he is. We were just doing what we do, and for whatever reason, the wheels of fate were spinning, we found ourselves in a position where, even though we were at a point where Death Metal had died out, we were just playing what the fuck we liked. We didn’t care if it was popular or not, and had no thought of the bigger picture, or our place in it. So, we’re like the reluctant messiah.

“It’s like we opened the door, and the room was a mess, and we found a vacuum cleaner in our hands.”

Perhaps coming to the scene a bit later in life than some of their contemporaries helped to avoid producing the bloated, boring Death Metal of the late 90’s. Though Sanders was around, and knew many of the original greats, it wasn’t until a near decade after the birth of Death Metal that Nile became a serious entity…

“I think when you’ve lived a little bit of life, you look at things differently and see more. I’d seen enough of my comrades fall by the wayside. The road to your band getting somewhere is literally littered on each side with the wreckage of those who have gone before and failed. It’s easy to see other people failing, so by the time it was our turn, we could see enough to scare us into staying on the road.”


Death Metal, with reluctant saviours Nile a key part of its’ resurrection, is now as popular as it has ever been, particularly in terms of live tickets, and festivals often see acts like Carcass and At The Gates high up the bills. Yet where does Sanders see Nile? Are they one of the “historic” acts; a “classic” Death Metal band, or a current band?

“We see ourselves as still working hard to bring our music to the people, with still a lot of work to be done and places to go and still lots of things we want to achieve as a band. We had a very similar discussion the other day at a band meeting and it was decided we were going to play 6 songs from the new record. Maybe bands of our age, we’ve got 20 plus years as Nile, wouldn’t be saying that, they’d be saying which one or two songs of this new record should we play as we have to play all this old stuff.

“There are elements of our audience that will get angry if they don’t hear “that song”, and we respect that, and we realize that and do care about it, but we also care about staying vital and pushing forward.

“In life you have to walk with confidence, because how you present yourself is how people perceive you. So, if you want people to think your album sucks, don’t play it!”


What Should Not Be Unearthed by Nile is released on 28 August via Nuclear Blast and can be ordered here.


Not Unearthed – Karl Sanders of Nile


“It’s a weird sensation that I’m not completely stressed and fed up and ready to kill people!” declares a chirpy and distinctly non-murderous Karl Sanders as he prepares for the unleashing of the eighth Nile opus magnificus, What Should Not Be Unearthed (Nuclear Blast).

The album recording process affects different musicians in all manner of ways, from the studio genius whose improvisation and spur of the moment innovation leads to artistic magic, to those who feel swallowed by the pressure of self-doubts, of knowing they are committing something to a permanent statement; recording is a process that can reduce even the most hardened of souls to intense frustration, self-doubt and, perhaps, genocidal responses.

“I feel much less insane this time around” continues Sanders. “Our producer Neil (Kernon) is a Londoner, but he’s a Nazi at heart! He has this belief that if you press people you can push them to discover new found creative levels of energy, but this time around it was really chilled. He wasn’t down here with us in South Carolina, he stayed in Chicago and we were uploading files to him and it was a very relaxed process. There were no levels of insanity.”

To what level of “prepared” does one of the premier technical Death Metal bands out there get to prior to hitting record?

“Generally we try to work everything out in pre-production, and then work on it in rehearsal. But it always happens that, as we’re actually recording it, the song continues to evolve, because when you hear it back in its more finished form you can get a different perspective on it.

“It’s certainly a lower stress level (recording digitally) because you can go back as many times as you need until you like it. Back in the old days you had to fucking play it.

“Conversely, I recently, last couple of years, have really become fond of music made before the computer age, like Al Green or Earth Wind and Fire; amazing bands that had to lay it down right there, together. You had to get your shit together then. It was an entirely higher level of preparation and consistency that you had to deliver.”

With the very precise, technical playing, with lots of picking, a flurry of finger movements within every set of bars, there has to be less freedom in what you’re all playing; it has to have that military precision to sound right. “You’re absolutely right, my friend. There does seem to be less freedom, which is sometimes frustrating, because you want to be able to hear the musical idea so you have to stay very much on course with very little freedom to improvise. I know that it drives death metal drummers crazy as they often have to be very careful about what they do and what they don’t do. It’s maddening.”


Sanders is an engaging, erudite and a touch eccentric an individual, relaxing with a morning coffee and sitting on a severely beastly album. Despite being vaunted and hailed from their visceral debut Amongst The Catacombs of Nephren-Ka (Relapse) – which we’ll get to in part 2 of this feature –Sanders clearly cares deeply about his band maintaining and exceeding standards, and this from a band that has several genuine classics in their canon, and come into What Should Not Be Unearthed off the back of a very strong album. Most bands have a drop off after album three or four, At The Gates of Sethu came fifteen years deep…

“We’re very motivated and we’re relentless on ourselves. I gotta say, people’s perception of our level depends on who you’re asking. I would agree, the last record was super surgical, (there was) a level of clean-ness about that record here-to-for unprecedented, though Neil would call that a double redundancy, there were some people that really didn’t like that record, but that doesn’t detract from the fact we put a lot of fucking work into that fucking thing. And that’s really where our focus stays, on what we’re working on now, the rest is too much to worry about.”

Sanders has a chuckle before continuing. “You can drive yourself insane trying to worry about the permutations and consequences. Man, you just got to make music and shut up, as Frank Zappa says.”

When Nile started, print reviews, fan letters and sales were about the only way to gauge how you were doing and what people thought of your band. Nowadays it takes seconds to Google yourself. It must be very hard not to get caught up and to get that balance right of what people want and expect, but to stay true to yourself and keep doing your thing too, and to stop what fans (or otherwise) are saying about your craft from seeping in…

“I’d say it seeps in a lot,” comes the knowing laugh. “Some of the more drastic fluctuations in my mindset and mental health over the last 2 decades are directly because of that.” Yet, as a celebrated band leader of a band with thousands of fans and supporters, why is it the negative that impacts? “It’s so easy to see the feedback and there’s a natural artistic thing where you do care what your fans have to say, you do care how they feel about what you do, it’s so natural and human.

“But it’s a multiple edged sword because there’s a madness at the end of that path, and I’ve been down it a few times and I can say it is dangerous to your wellbeing to give too much of a fuck about what other people are saying.”


What Should Not Be Unearthed is out on August 28 via Nuclear Blast. To order, click here.



Nile Books 2016 Dates To Support What Should Not Be Unearthed

Nile 2016 US tour admat

Part-time Egyptologists, full-time death metal legends Nile have announced a sprawling winter time tour of the US for early next year. The 31-date tour will go from coast to coast after kicking off on January 8th in Tampa Florida, an ending with a hometown show in Greenville, SC on February 12th. Support will come on every date from locals. Nile’s new album What Should Not Be Unearthed on August 28th from Nuclear Blast.



Karl Sanders commented about the tour:

We are extremely happy to bring our new album What Should not be Unearthed to Nile fans in the states. We will of course be playing a wide variety of classic NILE tunes as well each night as we take this tour to US cities both familiar and new to us. As long time supporters of the metal underground, Nile is also happy to announce that This tour will be further blessed by having local metal bands in each city as support acts. Also noteworthy and of special meaning to the band, is the homecoming show at the close of the tour; it has been ten years since we have played in our own hometown. Join us for an extreme evening of brutal metal!” has the exclusive pre-sale for tickets. All tickets go on sale August 22nd.

Nile, US Tour Date, Winter 2016

Jan 08: Orpheum – Tampa, FL

Jan 09: The Haven – Orlando, FL

Jan 10: The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA

Jan 12: Expo Five – Louisville, KY

Jan 13: Soundstage – Baltimore, MD

Jan 14: The Gramercy Theatre – New York, NY

Jan 15: Trickshots – Clifton Park, NY

Jan 16: The Palladium – Worcester, MA

Jan 17: Montage Music Hall – Rochester, NY

Jan 19: Altar Bar – Pittsburgh, PA

Jan 20: Agora Ballroom – Cleveland, OH

Jan 20: Token Lounge – Westland, MI

Jan 22: Rave – Milwaukee, WI

Jan 23: The Tree– Joliet, IL

Jan 24: Triple Rock Social Club – Minnesota, MN

Jan 25: Fubar – St. Louis, MO

Jan 26: Granada – Lawrence, KS

Jan 27: Bluebird Theater – Denver, CO

Jan 29: The Eclypse – Garden City, ID

Jan 30: El Corazon – Seattle. WA

Jan 31: Hawthorne Theater – Portland, OR

Feb 01: Slim’s – San Francisco, CA

Feb 02: Whiskey a Go Go – West Hollywood, CA

Feb 03: The Grove – Anaheim, CA

Feb 04: Club Red – Tempe, AZ

Feb 05: LVCS – Las Vegas, NV

Feb 06: Tricky Falls – El Paso, TX

Feb 08: Trees – Dallas, TX

Feb 09: Red 7 – Austin, TX

Feb 10: Scout Bar – Houston, TX

Feb 12: Gottrocks – Greensville, SC


nile what should not be unearthed

What Should Not Be Unearthed track listing:
1. Call To Destruction
2. Negating The Abominable Coils Of Apep
3. Liber Stellae Rubeae
4. In The Name Of Amun
5. What Should Not Be Unearthed
6. Evil To Cast Out Evil
7. Age Of Famine
8. Ushabti Reanimator
9. Rape Of The Black Earth
10. To Walk Forth From Flames Unscathed


Pre-orders are on sale now:

nile 2015 preorder What should not be unearthed

Video: Nile – Call To Destruction Lyric Video, Pre-Orders Live Today

Nile band 2015 photo credit Nuclear Blast Records

Nile band 2015 photo credit Nuclear Blast Records

Death metal legends Nile has released a lyric video for the lead track from their upcoming new album What Should Not Be Unearthed (Nuclear Blast). You can watch the lyric video at this link or see it below:

What Should Not Be Unearthed track listing:
1. Call To Destruction
2. Negating The Abominable Coils Of Apep
3. Liber Stellae Rubeae
4. In The Name Of Amun
5. What Should Not Be Unearthed
6. Evil To Cast Out Evil
7. Age Of Famine
8. Ushabti Reanimator
9. Rape Of The Black Earth
10. To Walk Forth From Flames Unscathed


nile what should not be unearthed
Karl Sanders comments on the new album:

The goal for the new record was sheer epic brutality. The focus this time around is on brutal Heavy Metal riffing and songwriting;kind of like of an Annihilation Of The Wicked approach but very streamlined to achieve maximum destructive impact. So we believe that we have a truly crushing disc to bring to metal fans. Although Unearthed is still full of the kind of undeniable musicianship people have come to expect from us over the years, it’s the songs themselves that will hit listeners over the head this time around.”


What Should Be Not Unearthed releases August 28th. ‘Call To Destruction’ can be ordered as a single here. Following the release of the album the band will embark on a short headline tour of Europe with Suffocation.

Nile UK tour dates, with Suffocation:

Aug 29: Massivefest – Warszawa, PL

Aug 30: Klub Alibi – Wroclaw, PL

Aug 31: K17 – Berlin, DE

Sept 01: Tivoli – Bremen, DE

Sept 02: Garage – Saarbrucken, DE

Sept 03: Backstage – Munich, DE

Sept 04: Meh Stuff Metal Festival – Hüttikon, CH

Sept 05: Base de loisirs de Vaires-Torcy – Torcy, FR

Sept 06: The Hub – Plymouth. UK
Sept 07: Sound Control – Manchester, UK
Sept 08: The Dome – London, UK
Sept 09: The Marble Factory – Bristol, UK