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Nader Sadek - "In The Flesh" (CD)

Nader Sadek - "In The Flesh" CD cover image

"In The Flesh" track listing:

1. Wakening
2. Petrophilia
3. Of This Flesh
4. Exhaust Capacitor
5. Soulless
6. Rusted Skin
7. Mechanic Idolatry
8. Sulffer
9. Nigredo in Necromance

Reviewed by on May 26, 2011

"The musicians on this all have serious credibility and experience in extreme metal, but somehow when they are all unified, it brings out the best in them."

Cairo-based conceptual artist Nader Sadek, well known in the music community for his stage designs and art, tackled the theme of the alienation of a metal listener within the confines of Islam on his 2007 debut "The Faceless." For his follow-up, "In The Flesh," he has joined forces with a veritable who's who of the extreme metal scene to produce an album about man's relationship with oil and all the greed and duplicity it brings.

"In The Flesh" is interesting in its premise. Nader wrote about 30 percent of the music himself, despite not being a musician, and thought up melodies which he then explained to his collaborators. While there are six other guest musicians ranging from Travis Ryan (Cattle Decapitation) to Tony Norman (Terrorizer/Monstrosity), the main three are Flo Mounier (Cryptopsy), Steve Tucker (Morbid Angel) and Rune Ericksen (Mayhem). Nader Sadek relied on Ericksen for some black metal styling and sensibility, since Sadek is admittedly more of a death metal fan, but didn't want the album to be just straight up death metal.

The result is the conceptual "In The Flesh," which takes the listener from the early inception of fossil fuel to an economy driven and dependent on its avarice for oil. While the concept gets lost on me at times, the music is pretty solid on a whole. The release is dotted with instrumentals, some small and non-consequential like "Wakening," and others that approximate the sounds of the industrial oil age, such as "Exhaust Capacitor." In "Rusted Skin," there's a hint of that middle-eastern sound that dissipates all too quickly and doesn't explore its potential like "Nigredo in Necromance." The latter track makes for a powerful instrumental with the guitar building into a spiral of news-feed style chants surrounded by wild leads that gives it momentum. The video for this track is circulating around, showing Sadek "playing" guitar in it.

In fact, the stellar cast that Nader Sadek has assembled for "In The Flesh" actually sounds better than some of the recent offerings from these musician's respective bands. This is some very good death metal with an arab inflection to it. The title track of sorts, "Of This Flesh," is killer with its wall of drums from Mounier, lightning fast leads from Ericksen and dark chanting from Tucker. This is how extreme metal should sound. The vocals on "Petrophilia" get pretty much buried, but this song comes at you like a steam roller until settling into a wild lock-step beat accented by crazed guitar leads meant to evoke industrialized sounds.

Besides these stand-out tracks, the rest of the songs are competent death metal. "Sulffer" is the second in a series of videos Sadek plans to release for each of the songs and features Tucker as the protagonist in a swamp/tarpit area (as a conceptual artist, you can tell he has fun putting these together). The music for that song maximizes good rich sound from all directions, ranging from steady riffing to complementing keyboards. "Mechanic Idolatry" is controlled, catchy death thrash backed up by drumming precise and head-spinning fast.

The end result is an album that is arguably one of the better death metal releases in the past year. The musicians on this all have serious credibility and experience in extreme metal, but somehow when they are all unified, it brings out the best in them. Instead of putting out something lackluster, they create something fresh and original in terms of brutality and style. Nader Sadek has always been a fan of metal first, but uses his artistic license to invoke the best sounds of metal with his cultural elements.

Highs: Great cast of musicians bringing a creative twist to extreme metal

Lows: Production sometimes buries the vocals

Bottom line: "In The Flesh" is an essential listen for fans of technical death metal

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)