Egyptian shock artist Nader Sadek engineered one of the most effective death metal concepts ever in 2011 with "In the Flesh", a chomping dirge ode to mankind's enslaved reliance upon petroleum and the global-armed raping of the Middle East to extract it. NILE and Assyrian grinders MELECHESH have utilized the antediluvian Pharaoh kingdoms and Mesopotamian era as muses to carve out their oppressive tech metal. By contrast, Sadek's prominent ensemble serves up a violent audile attack to supplement his modern epithets of doom set in the midst of a modern Egypt tailspun by political disorder and a street mob ethos.
"In the Flesh" was a harsh wake-up call and if you've spent time examining Sadek's visual arts, you'll understand where he's coming from, even if it's from a highly disconcerting place. There's a perverse sensuality to his sheathed couple not only simulating sex but trying like mad to conjoin through their globby constraints in his short film "Rapture". His attack against Egyptian dogmatism through his "Faceless" drawing series is his interpretation of the government's fear of both Christianity and death metal. Talk about your oddball bedfellows. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Sadek's cryptic ghoul masks and his gory video for "Nigredo In Necromance" will challenge the nerve of even the stoutest horror freaks. At the heart of Sadek's terrifying vanishing point is the thesis that petroleum has turned man against man in his quest for evolution, in turn, making him more base and depraved by attrition.
The crude (pun intended) vehemence extolled throughout "In the Flesh" isn't for everyone, but the blaring headline for death metal pundits is the roster that (ahem) fleshes out Sadek's arcane vision. They're brought together for the final time (so it's been stated) onstage at the Santos Party House in New York on this live CD/DVD document, "Living Flesh".
If you've been paying attention, you'll know that CRYPTOPSY's Flo Mounier leads a cast of black and death metal notables in this gruesome excursion. Sadek's positioning of his drum kit at the fore of the stage looking up at his teammates onstage is freaking brilliant. Separated by a partition of gnarled brambles, Mounier represents both the deferred point man and figurative disciple to Sadek and his grating bishops of expiry. Former MORBID ANGEL growler Steve Tucker assumes the grisly throne onstage in-between the fearsome tag-team of ex-MAYHEM (and future AURA NOIR and AVA INFERI) shredder Rune "Blasphemer" Eriksen plus ex-VADER and BEHEMOTH bassist Marcin "Novy" Nowak. Added for this performance is guest guitarist Sean Frey, who steals the show at times with a few spectacular lead solos. Behind them, hair perpetually plunged over his face like an intended shroud, Nader Sadek dunks bulbous simulated innards into a black tar (representing manufactured oil, of course) and flings them into the audience.
"Living Flesh" contains the entire "In the Flesh" album, albeit the playlist is scrambled up from the original album's order, a shrewd tactic that keeps a random element always lingering to this brutal and sinewy performance. A lot of the parts were extended in this concert for maximum absorption and to instill even more terror behind Nader Sadek's elemental message. The machine is the new god, Steve Tucker bellows as a lead-in to "Mechanic Idolatry" and the consummating blood pact Sadek is trying to convey is executed to searing effect in the final stanza of "Petrophilia". "Petrophilia" is wisely ushered to the end of the set (whereas it's the second cut on the original album) with the collective raining audile hellstones as a crushing finale. A logical bookend to the unnerving cantata, "Awakening", woven by AVA INFERI's Carmen Simoes at the opening of the set. At times, Simoes' spooky oratorio hits notes that haunt of the eerie credit roll score from the original "Night of the Living Dead".
Flo Mounier is naturally the centerpiece of this dark attraction, so much he's given a solo that slips casually from the severe mania of "Rusted Skin". His solo is so modest it's nearly boring, but it does give visual evidence of how dexterous his snare hits are, albeit the point is better taken in the careening curves of "Soulless", "Sullfer", "Mechanic Idolatry" and of course, "Petrophilia".
Without question, the video presentation is more impactful than the album encapsulation. Depending on how you consume "Living Flesh" audibly, you're either going to find a bootleg grain about it, or you're going to feel like desert sands have opened before you and the gaping maw roars with a vengeance in protest of violating drills of the past into its core. There's a sinister, abstract texture to "Living Flesh" that demands the best listening source you have access to. If you iPod this thing, you really won't get Nader Sadek's vision whatsoever. Noisome and hellish to every definition of the word "extreme", play it with respect for tones or don't bother.