Nader Sadek, the artist and conceptual director behind the album In The Flesh and the soon to be released EP entitled Malefic: Chapter III, granted Nathaniel Shannon and myself a glimpse into his vile sepulcher during a late summer evening in Manhattan. Over the course of an hour, we were allowed a sit down with the new EP, which runs a solid twenty-one minutes, digesting this newest offering to a decaying world, while Nader gave us some insights into its inception.
Nader and his fellow cabal of like-minded musicians have crafted something to be taken note of yet again with this release. It is an absolute, natural progression for this project, showcasing a maturity and growth from their first album. One can actually feel the chemistry between everyone involved, which is something to be said considering this project’s global span. Consisting of Rune “Blasphemer” Erikson (ex-Mayhem, Auir Noir), Flo Mounier (Cryptopsy), Travis Ryan (Cattle Decapitation) Bobby Koelble (Death) and finally the addition of now permanent bass player Martin Rygiel (ex-Decapitated), who also handled the mixing and mastering of the new EP, with lyrics and vocal patterns being written and arranged by Nader himself. A project so insanely ambitious and time-consuming for everyone involved that the very fact that they have ended up crafting something so absolutely punishing and original in the world of extreme music is staggering. In The Flesh had planted the seed for this project’s vision and sound. Malefic: Chapter III is the blossoming of this world-spanning, toxic collaboration. Without a doubt, this EP is a powerhouse release; a giant step forward in terms of sound and the evolution of this multi-headed beast. A fitting, twisted soundtrack to a reality of what man will become as he continues to extinguish his own fleeting natural and spiritual resources.
Having come off a small two-continent, five-country spanning tour and recovering from a severe injury as a result of being hit by a car, Nader and his associates have begun to circle the wagons and recite their blackened prayers in anticipation for their latest assault on this cannibalistic, all-consuming world. Malefic: Chapter III will be released as a CD insert in the November and December magazine issues of Decibel US., Terrorizer UK., and Legacy Germany. In addition to the CD insert, the EP will be available for digital download this December for those who might have missed out.
“In The Flesh” and the a number of your previous works have all touched on the subject of man’s dependence on petroleum and our inevitable exhausting of it as a natural resource. In fact, it played heavily in the entire concept of your two videos and the previous album. Before we get into the meat and bones regarding the new EP, can you explain a bit about your interest in petroleum?
Nader: The concept of petroleum, which is primarily what I have worked with, was the theme of In The Flesh and was always there in all my early works. I’m starting to move away from it a bit now. In regards to the band, Death Metal has that sound of an unstoppable engine which runs on fuel, which is driven from petroleum. It was intentional from the start of this project. I’ve always been interested in dualities. The use of petroleum provided a vast potential in regards to this topic of dualities. Petroleum is death in a way, yet it supports modern life. We depend on it in so many ways, yet it is ruining us.
This time around, you told me that the concepts involving petroleum were no longer there, but might have bled over perhaps into the new stuff. Care to divulge anything to what people can expect theme and content-wise?
Nader: The last album ended with “Nigredo in Necromance”, a kind of romantic piece – drawing a lot of emotion – and the next EP sort of draws from that conceptually. The concept of petroleum is no longer present, however there is residue from it. The concept is a fictional narrative, but it’s also very auto-biographical to me. It revolves around a world where God and The Devil have deserted the world, and in short, a blind man takes it upon himself to replace those two with himself. In which he ultimately fails, and thus condemns the world and brings it to a much worse off, horrible state. The art for this one is going to be very “illustration” heavy. The narrative is going to be very present and very visible. There will be a lot of drawings for it, probably not so many videos – but definitely a lot of drawings, almost like a graphic novel.
You mentioned that the new album is auto-biographical, which leaves me a little curious as to what you mean by that statement.
Nader: No matter what you do, you’re always making a self-portrait. Even when you’re drawing someone else or taking a photograph, you’re choosing the colors, perspective and the lighting. Or to ignore all these factors, whatever you want. Maybe I am a narcissit. It’s your interpretation, really. You’re putting your whole self into it; it has to be sincere. I can’t put myself into another person’s shoes, to experience the emotions they are feeling. For me, I can only talk about my own emotions and experiences. I guess in the end, a bit of this project was me thinking that maybe I was doing something good by taking all of this on, but in the end I had fucked it up.
During our initial conversations, you had divulged that all the lyrics and patterns were written by you, before Travis from Cattle Decapitation had stepped in to do vocals. In a way, you saying that the fear of you fucking up makes sense now. Taking on not only the artistic direction, but also the vocal declaration for this project.
Nader: Yeah, all the lyrics and a vast majority of the patterns were written by me this time around. I started just listening to the music everyone had done and started to set words and patterns to it. Honestly it was kinda of fucked up and intimidating
for me, but also awesome as well. I’m the one guy who isn’t an actual, professional musician. Which felt like I was taking on this huge thing. For me, if the vocals for a band aren’t catchy or grab you emotionally, it just ruins the song. The voice is the thing that keeps you locked in during most songs. People attached themselves to lyrics and vocals. I felt like that if I failed at this part and people didn’t enjoy what they heard, it would fuck everyone else over. I ended up showing everything I had been working on to Travis Ryan (Cattle Decapitation) who ended up really liking them; which resulted in him doing the vocals for the EP. Which is awesome, as Travis has one of the best voices in extreme music.
Would you mind walking us through the process that you and the rest of the guys have for song writing? Even in our digital age, having a band so spread out must have been a bit of a challenge.
Nader: Because it’s such a short EP, I realized that the story I had originally written for the next album was too long for just four songs. It just wouldn’t have worked. Also, as a collective, with everyone’s schedule and location, it just made more sense to do it this way, in regards to the time and quality of each song. Every song sounds different in certain way, but still has that black/death metal vibe. We’ve been working and sitting on this EP for some time, to be honest. We had to ability to take our time and perfect everything. Arrange all the parts to where I and everyone else involved, felt good about it.
For the most part, Rune brings in a bunch of riffs and I bring in some stuff. Those riffs are played to Flo, after which him and Rune start working on constructing the building blocks for a complete song. They pretty much get 75% of the song into fruition. At this stage, I’m totally quiet and mostly documenting them working together, I am in no way a musician, so I don’t feel comfortable saying too much. Over the course of this process, I am documenting everything with a camera, with the footage being sent to everyone who might not be there or out of the country, just so everyone can see what is being worked on and all the ideas being created. The writing process itself took awhile, I think about 7-8 months to be exact; Rune works on a number of parts, making those into complete demos. Later, we meet up again with Rune and Flo to work out the final parts. Being able to watch the chemistry develop between Rune and Flo was really exciting. They’re two totally different people. Rune is a vegan and Flo would eat a steak for breakfast if he could. Personality-wise, they don’t clash, but they have separate beliefs. They’re two totally different people. But in the studio, watching them work together is really intense. It’s watching real art being made. A lot of bands now don’t really collaborate anymore. There’s a main songwriter who tells everyone what to do. Where the drums come, where the vocals should be. With these two, Rune would come up with parts and play it to Flo, who would make a beat and they would just start bouncing off each other. They both have such a unique chemistry together and often surprise each other with their individual ideas, which is awesome to watch. I am super pleased to have brought these two together and seeing the end result.
So let’s talk about Andreas Kisser (Sepultura) You pretty much floored me when you disclosed that he was going to be throwing his weight in on the new album. How did all of this come about between you two?
Nader: I have absolutely loved Andreas’ guitar work and solos over the years, even though there is a little “non musical/noise” element behind his work. I think this statement is a bit exaggerated in a sense I guess, but what I really do love about his solos is that they contain a lot of emotion, you can hear the notes being squeezed out. I spoke to him around the time we were doing In The Flesh, but I quickly realized that he wouldn’t have fit in there – it may have turned out a bit weird. But when we worked on the new stuff, I quickly “heard” how some parts could totally sound great with him in it. So I contacted him again and sent him the songs that were recorded. He loved them and did the solos about 5-6 months later for the new songs.
Another aspect which sets this EP apart is that you cultivated four separate bass players for each individual song, which just adds even more to the ambitiousness of this project so far. Besides Andreas Kissers involvement, who do you bring into the fold for the EP and was their a reason behind highlighting the bass itself?
Nader: I ended up deciding to use different bassists for each song because I am a really big bass fan. It’s one of the most underrated instruments. It’s actually really annoying how underrated it is. You hear a song with just guitar and drums and you think “Oh OK, that’s cool.” But when you hear it with the bass, you just think “Holy shit.” It adds so much backbone and depth to a song. Bass actually makes everything tighten up within a song. Its so important from a musical standpoint. I really wanted to showcase several awesome bass players with these new songs. Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse), Bobby Koelble (Death), Olivier Pinard (formerly of Neuraxis, Cryptopsy) and Martin Rygiel (ex-Decapitated). Each song has different flavor because of these guys.Bringing all these people on board for this was yet again, another really intimidating factor when making this EP. Which another reason why the EP is only four songs honestly. If it had been more than four songs, with the story and concept I had, each song would have sounded weird and honestly a little out of place within the album, with everyone involved.
You guys just did a small stint in Canada and Europe. The project’s first set of shows outside of NYC. Seeing all of this come together – your art, the music and finally bringing it to a live setting – must have been rather accomplished feeling for yourself and everyone involved. As the dust has settled, what did you take away from the touring experience?
Nader: It reconfirmed that this project needs to make more live shows. I think there are a lot of things going on with us live. The costumes and theatrics, along with the fact that you have about five musicians from across the world. Each one of them has a completely different mindset; for the most part, they all have completely different backgrounds and play a different kind of metal. For example, Rune, who was in Mayhem, Flo from Cryptopsy and Bobby, who played with Death. They really nothing to do with each other and they emit different energies, different vibes. But having the main musicians from those bands come together to create something new, it’s very special.For those five shows – being on stage with those guys, all the different chemistry and backgrounds that we have – it was really intense. For that half an hour for each show, it was very powerful. Very potent.
Honestly, those five days were a test. I think it left us feeling hungrier to do more. To actually do longer and more intense tours and festivals. Although I am not sure if we are festival material. I don’t want this to become a product. There so many bands out there and I don’t want to fall into that trap. But you know, if somebody makes us the right offer, I’ll take it! It’s just really tough with everyone that is involved. They all have other bands that are bigger or have real jobs. That’s how they make their money. To some of them, this is a side project, not to say that their not 100% behind it, it’s just hard with everyone’s different situations and schedules.
For the video “RE:MECHANIC”, you shot the opening at the Temple of the Sun and Crystal Altar, which are part of the forbidden ruins of Abu Ghorab outside of Cairo. What about this location called to you?
Nader: I was location scouting and wanted to do something in Egypt while I was there. It fit the concept to make something relate to the ancients and also in a way their predictions of the future. While I was there, we found the ruins of the pyramid of Abu Ghorab.There was something very special about it. In fact, there was a cube-shaped crystal platform with a circular crystal incised in it, which was actually quite shocking to me. A cube and sphere presents a duality but its also made into one form. As I stated earlier, I am interested in dualities and this is how my work operates. I try to find dualities in all the things around and and how I can relate to them. But the other thing that happened, a group of German tourists came by us and sat inside the circle. Their leader came and prayed and walked in the circle and touched their heads. I assumed it was some kind of prayer or a blessing; within seconds, ideas flooded my mind and I knew that this was the place.
Special thanks as always to Nathaniel Shannon for the awesome photos of Nader.