In the Flesh
posted on 5/2011 By:
Death metal in general has been strangely quiet around these parts lately, but things are about to change. Almost from out of nowhere comes the debut album from Nader Sadek, a rather unique supergroup of sorts consisting of former Morbid Angel frontman Steve Tucker, Ava Inferi/former Mayhem riff-machine Rune Eriksen, session bassist Nicholas McMaster (Krallice/Gorguts), Cryptopsy drummer Flo Mounier, and Nader Sadek himself, a Cairo-born visual artist responsible for some of the grotesque stagewear and imagery utilized by Mayhem and Sunn O))) for their live performances. (You can make a couple clicks to the right and check out his site, and you’ll probably recognize some his work if you follow either of those acts.) In The Flesh is precisely what you should expect from a collaboration that features such an impressive pedigree of musicians, and is one of the most confident and passionate debuts I’ve heard in a long time. This promises to be an expansive and unlimited creative outlet for all involved to blow off some steam, but damn it all, their timing with the release of this album could prove to be unfortunate.
Technically, Nader plays the role of conductor and creative director for the project, laying out the concepts and basic song ideas for Tucker and Ericksen to build upon, while entrusting the pair to handle a great deal of the songwriting itself, along with his input concerning the final product. The result is a burly, altogether unwholesome display of Floridian-influenced death metal havoc which is both calculating and unerringly tenacious. Intensely-picked riffs, a thundering rhythm section, and Tucker’s dry and powerful roars propel songs like “Petrophilia” and “Sulffer” into dangerously ripping territories, but they also capably slow things down and take the lunging, crushingly heavy route on tracks such as "Soulless" and “Mechanical Idolatry”, which are broken up along the way with short instrumental interludes that keep the flow of the album lustrous and sleek. The production on this thing is killer: punchy guitars, a fantastic mix, and a vivid clarity attached to each instrument and vocal allows for everything to be heard with little to no aural interference. Closing track “Nigredo In Necromance” continues to flirt with an avant-garde aesthetic that has a sort of black metal feel to it, and really, all of In The Flesh has a very blackened backbone tracing the entire disc in bold lines and a mystic atmosphere even during the most rampaging blastbeaten onslaughts.
If there are negatives to be pointed out, they are twofold: One is due to the inexperience of the band as a whole, and the other deals with the aforementioned unintentional bad timing of the release itself. With Tucker at the helm and Sadek having basically just been a fan of the music he creates up until now, you can hear such a strong influence from the band Steve used to front, and the band one of his former bandmates now leads. I imagine with time and experience that Nader Sadek will continue to grow and show more individuality with time, but the second problem lies with the fact that In The Flesh has literally been released directly between the new Hate Eternal and Morbid Angel albums. While I’ll temporarily hold my opinion of the latter, the former overshadows this one. But it’s close, and already this early in the game, Nader Sadek is only a few steps behind the bands I’m almost positive were used as muses, and although unintentional, perhaps there won’t be two hugely influential main event players unleashing new material barely within a month of each other next time around, because the shadow they both cast is undeniably large at this point.
Sadek has stated that his intention was to create his ultimate death metal dream record with musicians he knew could help interpret his vision to its fullest potential, and in that regard, he’s come very close to crafting something truly excellent. As you can see from the works on display at his website, his visual artistry and this musical endeavor compliments and enhances each other, and it also means a great deal to the musicians involved. For Tucker, it renews his love and passion for performing smoking death metal; it allows Mounier an outlet to bash and build upon outside of the hibernating Cryptopsy; it gives Eriksen a chance to flex his muscles in another hatefully aggressive manner outside of black metal; and it establishes Nader as a new force to be reckoned with in the extreme metal scene. This is a stunning debut, and if you had any idea what’s about to come rolling through in a few week’s time, it’s arguable that the students have surpassed their master. You have been warned.
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