by Van Damned (TX)
When a supergroup assembles for long enough to produce a cohesive album, it's an event worth noting. When that album turns out to be an unmitigated success (see recent releases from Twilight, Circle of Animals and Shrinebuilder) it's like a ninth-inning home run: hard-fought and well-earned.
The collective convened under the direction of -- and named after -- Egyptian-born/NY-based visual artist Nader Sadek has hit one of those four-baggers.
At just inside the 30-minute mark, In the Flesh (Season of Mist) is an all-killer-no-filler sprint through the warped and demented arena of Sadek's mind. Sadek conceived the project -- "an exploration of the human condition as we now find it intermeshed with petroleum," he told Invisible Oranges' Joseph Schafer -- wrote a few riffs and songs, then assembled his team.
Filling out his roster are Steve Tucker (ex-Morbid Angel), Rune Eriksen (aka Blasphemer, Aura Noir, ex-Mayhem) and Flo Mounier (Cryptopsy). Other notables on deck include Attila Csihar and Krallice's Nick McMaster. Pinch-hitting are Tony Norman, of Monstrosity and Morbid Angel (briefly) fame, guitar wizard Mike Lerner (Behold… the Arctopus!) and current Morbid Angel axeman Destructhor.
Given the talent involved and resulting product, you might be tempted to proclaim this the real new Morbid Angel album. You'd only be partly wrong. Tucker's voice and pacing are unmistakable, there's no doubt about it. But Mounier here plays against type, firing lightning-fast salvos of Sandoval-esque blasts, yet reigning in his tendency to over-play everything all the time. Also, Rune's riffs and solos are too fluid and melodic, grounded in icy Norway, rather than the bad acid swamps of Florida or (yikes) R'lyeh. And the sheer technical weirdness exhibited by McMaster and Lerner means that Flesh occasionally freaks out with some elements of mind-warping prog and hyper-speed shred. It's nothing if not its own beast.
Performances are rendered in brilliant high fidelity (Sadek, himself, is listed as producer) but it's the little in-between moments of dripping horror and oozing dread that wraps the record in such a deliciously unsettling miasma of fear: the intro; the moaning cello and ghostly vocal chorus of that introduce and bridge "Of This Flesh;" the creaking strings and low-throated overtone chants on "Rusted Skin."
"It's as if the ghosts of petroleum are haunting us -- not only have we exhumed the bodies of the dead, so to speak, but we use them to kill each other," Sadek said.
He may not have played any of the instruments on Flesh, but the man knows death.
Nader Sadek - In the Flesh is available for purchase here.