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Nader Sadek – In The Flesh

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Lyrically, In the Flesh by Nader Sadek is primarily concerned with oil. I can’t think of another heavy metal album that has ever broached this topic. For as many albums as we’ve heard about war, apocalypse, disease, and the like, nobody has ever talked about our society’s need for oil. If the oil stopped flowing tomorrow, we would quickly know chaos, starvation, and suffering on a scale that would dwarf anything short of nuclear war or an Impact Event.

The stats are awe-inspiring. Every day, 84 million barrels of oil are required to run our world. If the oil fields only produced what we needed on a daily basis, without overproducing for storage purposes, that would equate to roughly 40,833 gallons of oil per second. Sunlight and oil are truly this world’s lifeblood. If we have one true universal religion, it is worshipping at the altar of the god of the Black Gold.

While I enjoy In The Flesh very much, I can’t help but be a bit disappointed with it. The playing is near flawless, and I’ll take any reason at all to get Flo Mounier behind a kit. Make no mistake, the riffing and songwriting are very solid. The stem of the problem, the missed opportunity, is the actual style of riffing. It sounds vaguely similar to Gateways to Annihilation or I, Monarch, although perhaps more rigid and angular. If I’d been handed a guitar and the creative reins to envision an album about petroleum, I would have tried to come up with riffing that fit the lyrical topic more closely.

I might have written riffs that were sludgy and oozed like congealed diesel on a winter morning. Why not imitate the extraction and refining processes by making the riffs flow with molten, liquid surges? I might have written riffs with a steady pulse like a commuter car, or perhaps channeled the violent shriek, the inhuman precision and speed of an aircraft turbine. Our goods are carried across the oceans on ships powered by gargantuan diesels; why not channel the steady mechanical thrum of a 2,300-tonne Wärtsilä? Why not use all of those styles of riffing on the same album in tribute to our petroleum deity?

The sound of oil is all around us on a daily basis. When I open a bottle of 5W-30 synthetic, I hear the sound of so many heavy metal bands – Inquisition, Origin, Cynic – all of them analogous in some way to the sounds coming out of machines mundane and exotic. Meshuggah have cold mechanical riffing on lockdown, and no doubt they could find some inspiration in machinery powered by oil, as well.

I hope that Nader Sadek keeps the band together, especially with the current super-group lineup. I also hope that he takes another shot at the oil-themed concept album, but that he expands on it, because the topic is just so ripe with possibilities. Nader Sadek could perhaps draft members of different bands to contribute to the songwriting, but simply have the current lineup perform the songs in the studio. They’ll get another shot at it… as long as the oil keeps flowing.

— Richard Street-Jammer

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