Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Nader Sadek – In the Flesh (Review)

It can be too easy to write about the internet. Negativity, over-inflated egos and self-
importance are in abundance, truly shooting fish in a barrel. I try to steer clear of snark
and inject a degree of positivity into my writing (Morbid Angel review aside) to make
this blog a site of interest, engagement and maybe even insight.
This is a story about being wrong. I recently read over at Invisible Oranges an
entry on the obsolescence of the music review
. As you might have seen, writing about music is whatI do here.

That said, the purpose is not about star-ify and run. The purpose has been
and is to engage with music, to show the music from a different angle, specifically, my
angle. So while I agree that in essence the review is dead, it is only a certain kind of
review rendered cadaver. Indeed as I said over at IO, the thing I like about reading
reviews is that after I have read a certain number I feel as though I have got to know
the writer, his/her preferences, favoured adjectives, comparison references and so on.
In spite of this literary love affair, it is easy to find oneself feeling jaded or just
over-saturated with the endless content. It can take a week, a day or an hour but the
ceaseless march of useful information can trample one into a blubbering mess of
blunted ignorance. This is all a round about way of saying: I read the reviews, I saw in
comments sections, everyone said it – the Nader Sadek album is not only what the
new Morbid Angel album should have been, it is plain excellent. I dragged my feet for
too long on this album and am not too prideful to admit: I got it wrong.
Back in high school when I first listened to Brujeria, I felt disturbed. The
Mexican gangster photo on the back cover of Raza Odiada, the low-tuned riffs, the
gruff unhinged Spanish language vocals were pure menace. Let me sound a familiar
toll: before-the-internet, just how OG these gangsters were was essentially
unknowable. When I finally got my hands on it, the severed head, the Satanism and
gore of the previous album, Matando Gueros was almost too much. I was unable to
look at the cover or even listen to the music without feeling complicit in occult flavoured
Mexican drug murders. But Brujeria was only the second time that I had been so
deeply menaced by music. The first time was on one of my earliest owned albums,
Faith No More’s “The Real Thing”.

Everything about Faith No More at that time, the juxtaposition of ugliness and
beauty, the gonzo-esque, grotesque visual aesthetic left over from their early eighties
context and Patton’s mysterious, ambiguous lyrics. I spent hours thinking about
what “Underwater love” was about and trying to reconcile the post-hangover wake up
of “The Morning After” with the movie of the same name. The most troubling song for
me, however, was their cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”. From the opening air raid
siren to the sincere and non-ironic, expertly inflected lyrics to Jim Martin’s authentic
tribute to Iommi balanced by Gould’s improvised bass soloing, this song caused
goosebumps on every listen. The generals, their war, Satan laughing, spreading his
wings. Terrifying.

Nader Sadek’s “In the Flesh” is the first album in a long while to open up the
doors of darkness, to show the horror and not have to spell it out in zeitgeist memes.
Rather, darkness is allowed to breathe, encoded alchemically with relentless
drumming, razor sharp riffing and monstrous vocals. The riffing, soloing, drumming and
singing is exactly what you would expect from former Morbid Angel frontman Steve
Tucker, Ava Inferi/former Mayhem riff-machine Rune Eriksen, session bassist Nicholas
McMaster (Krallice/Gorguts), Cryptopsy drummer Flo Mounier. It smashes. Riffs are
piled on top of each other, inventive percussion abounds and the vocals sound as
though spawned from hell itself. The soloing is technically astounding but more than
that it is melodic, dynamic and exciting.

“In the Flesh” is an album in dire need of a vinyl release!
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