Nader Sadek



Nader Sadek is a visual artist and craftsman who was raised in Egypt & has since moved to the USA, where he studied at MCAD, an art college in Minnesota.  He has, in more ways than one, paved his own unique path.  An artist who has not only become a stage designer in his own right but has also cooperated (among many others) with the likes of Mayhem, Sunn O))) and Attila Csihar, Nader Sadek has worked with many well know artists in the death-black metal genre & his name has become synonomous with many in this industry.   Recently, he has collaborated with the pioneers of death metal themselves, Morbid Angel, in their new video “Garden of Disdain”.  Taking advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity I decided to talk to Nader not only about his beginnings & musical roots but also about his most recent endeavors…

Artienne: What made you decide to leave such a beautiful place as Egypt, Cairo and go to America? What did you do before you left your country? Is the Arabic educational system much different from the American model? What kind of influence does religion have on your vision?

Nader: I needed to break free from the closed mentality of Egypt, and the government at the time. Which had suffocated me. It felt at the time that the only thing to do was to do drugs and other counter productive stuff, our society is very sick, and the artist in me needed a way out to express myself. Leaving was not only my only option it saved me. Before I left I studied in a German school then went to an American school. I never fully experienced the Egyptian model as I was in 2 western schools. Unfortunately Religion, like in any country is not a religion, its a way of life and a way for people to oppress others, a controlling tool. I went to America and was granted amazing opportunities met amazing people, and when I felt healthy again, I returned to Egypt to do the best I can to fix it. In my opinion there is only 2 reasons to leave your country, your either a shameless coward or you want your children to grow in a healthy environment. Since I have no family that I need to protect. Coming back to fight the good fight was what I chose.

Artienne: How do you recall this period after completing your studies?  You began your career by making sculptures, drawings and exhibitions for various museums.  What were your themes related to?

Nader: I went to a college in Minneapolis, Minnesolta, called MCAD. There I was exposed to a lot of art and artists. I later went on to create conceptual sculptures and installation art. My theme had to do with a fascination I had with petroleum. It is a very strange compound which is largely made of dead things. yet humanity has found a way to exhume to and make energy out of it, and wear until now addicted to it, every product that sever sold is somehow related to petroleum, like Gasoline and plastic, completely inescapable…


Artienne: How did your adventure with metal music begin? Have you ever listened to this type of music before you reached America?  How did you start your cooperation with Mayhem?  Did your cooperation with Mayhem start when you finished studying in New York?

Nader: My brother played me Motley Crue and Guns N’ Roses at first i was probably 6-7, I was quite interested , but years later I heard Pantera, Sepultura and Deicide, the rest is history. I met Attila at a party by coincidence, we started talking about making masks, I made him his first mask which he wore at Mayhem and Sunn O))) shows.

Artienne: What was the main reason for creating the Nader Sadek project? I heard that you doesn’t describe yourself as a musician? Can you play any instrument? How did you manage to persuade to cooperate with many talented musicians as : Steve Tucker , Attila Csihar , Destructhor, ?

Nader: Well as an artist, I had a very big idea of what kind of sound I would like to hear, which was an infusion Death and Black metal, I always loved the vocals of death metal, while the melodies of black metal were also very attractive, drumming wise I loved blasts but I also loved groove, and I m also a really big fan of the technical Death Metal style, as well as more symphonic styles of black metal. I don’t know any band really, that does all those things at once, let alone in one song. Not saying this has been completely achieved in the band but it’s gotten close enough to where I’m extremely happy with it. This was the whole point of the project to make an extreme amalgamation of cultured metal sub genres under one banner. No, I cant play any instrument in the traditional sense, nor would I want to, I think that would kill some of the creativity, I see a lot of musicians who can play really but don’t write,  I think really anyone can write, in a bigger way, I also see it as a “directing/producing” challenge a kin to movie making, which i also have the pleasure of doing. I really don’t care about the industry “standards
” or ow things are dong “traditionally.  I do my own thing my own way. And wrote “Nigredo In Necromance” on my own , with the others adding additional harmonies, the bass line, and the additional beats. I also wrote the majority of the melodies on “Petrophilia”

Artienne: What is the most flustering when it comes to this type of projects?

Nader: Sometimes I bump into a musician who thinks its his project because they were invited to contribute, and starts to want to make decisions about the mix, and other peoples instruments and playing, it says a lot about them and maybe why they were kicked out of the band they originally received their notoriority for. It’s really quite sad. Especially when their personal life bleeds onto you. One guitar sit for example had a problem with his wife, it was a domestic violence case, and she reached out to me for help.It got very dramatic and I became very as a result. Nasty stuff. Another bad scenario is when a musician programs their instrument instead of playing it, and send sit to me as if it was actually played. Another case is people giving themselves credit for things they have not done at all, like a vocalist I worked with who did not come up with anything, told his Facebook friends that he did every thing to do with the vocals, he did not come up with lyrics or phrasing or patterns. Actually he told me he thought it sucked when i originally showed it to him, then when everyone liked it he took credit for it. When things like that happen it’s just further proof that well there is a lot of scum roaming the earth. Those same 2-3 individuals have also accused of giving myself credit for things I have not done, which has never been the case, I have always been highly transparent and have nothing in this regard to be ashamed of.

Artienne:  Your videos contains ecological and political message. On ” In the flesh” you used term ” Wounded flesh” as metaphor for oil. On another video titled “Nigredo in Necromance”, petroleum is an element that links two souls, an infected man and his beloved dead. In “Sulffer” we can see a man immersed in this black fluid. Why is petroleum so important in your artistic message? What’s the biggest inspiration for you? Political-economic issues, fantasy literature, horrors, films or sphere related to beliefs and mythology?

Nader: All those things u mentioned are in one way or another influences, but I can’t say it’s Political/ecological, I am only observing. In one of the previous questions, I answer that petroleum simply is an interesting substance, for example if you look at the descriptions of hell in the bible, it speaks of under ground lairs with flames and melting brimstone. Well what does that sound like in reality? It’s petroleum pits, so petroleum is just this fascinating thing that transcends into many topics.

Artienne: How do you approach the historical sources that are in our museums?  Are they important to you as reference materials to build your artistic vision?  How critical are you about this type of historical and archaeological material?  I am asking about this because many artists prefer to read “Necronomicon” than “Epic of Gilgamesh”. lol

Nader: hahahah, The ancients knew far more about the architecture of life than we do now, fictional stories are also very important but they don’t hit me as hard as watching at epic structures which are impossibly built. To me that is far more inspiring.

Artienne: Many journalists compare your project to the music of Morbid Angel (In the Flesh) or Mayhem (riff’s) vide: “Souless”, “Mechanic Idolatry”, “Nigredo in Necromance”. How much influence did you have on the process of creating songs?

Nader: That makes sense, Steve Tucker of Morbid Angel was one of the main songwriters on “In the flesh”, so his influence is undeniable, when it comes to Mayhem that also had to do with the guitarist at the time, the combination of the two sounds created the aesthetic I mentioned before of a mixture of black and death metal. Some songs again like “Nigredo..” and “Petrophila” were written by me, to varying degrees, “Nigredo” I wrote start to finish, but “Petrophilia” I wrote many riffs that I felt went together well, the rest of the guys helped arrange it added a bridge here and there, etc, I also wrote a small section in “Soulless” , for my other EP , I wrote several riffs, like in ” deformation” , The process for “In the flesh” was a bit rushed, however for the other EP’s ( which some have not even come out yet) he process usually was that id write a riff or more and the others would arrange and make a complete song out of it, there are some songs also where I wrote no riffs, but helped arrange it, like ” entropy eternal” , with the post Tucker work, I wrote all the lyrics and the phrasing, I also directed what the vocals would sound like for example, I would want to try to have a part where it was very low growls, jumping into black metal shrieks in the next part, and doubling of the vocals, I created the actual phrasing, so there is an emotion behind that, and it needs to have the right accents to convey the emotion.

Artienne: When making masks do you use silicone or plaster molds? Do you do your own silicone pigments and thickener or you are using more simple stuff like Silplast Gel-00 or G10, or flocking, which has a fast working time? What is better to use in your opinion, flocking or pigment? How many layers do you use?

Nader: it totally depends on the project, for example normally I do use Dragon Skin ( platinum based silicone) , but for the Morbid Angel video for example, I used a 2 compound rubber, simply called ‘rubber’ its one of the limitations of living in Egypt, there aren’t that many materials here like there are in the west.

nader sadek BAPTISMWEB

Artienne:  Is there that one live performance you remember the most ?  Looking at the scenery on some photos from your concerts I noticed that the branches are attached with black tape.  Have you  thought about using more natural materials such as linen or tree bark to cover the tape?

Nader: both gigs in Chicago have been stellar, Bristol in the UK was amazing, Portugal also was nice, one of the most amazing shows was playing my home land Cairo Egypt ! that was quite a ride! and New York is usually bad ass as well. I cant forget playing Neurotic Death-fest in 2015, the very first fest I played opening directly for Entombed in front of 2000 people, it was crazy!

No I use black tape because it s part of the piece, tape is plastic and trees are wood, so its a combination of plastic and wood, one Turns eventually in the ground into petroleum, where as the other has been taken out from the ground, extracted from petroleum and created, so its a duality that I m very happy with.

“My intention is to create a visual parallel to the song, a theme which repeats, yet within the loop-lay textures are controlled twists and turns.  It was a bonus that I had the opportunity to use Sumerian iconography as well as obscure symbols of the pre-ancient past such as the Merkaba, a galaxy-roaming vessel. “

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Artienne: You made a video for Morbid Angel’s song “Garden of Disdain”.  Could you tell us more about your vision & concept with petroleum, crystals and the role of Demon and Goddess.  What was the greatest inspiration for you?  Who are the actors & statisticians who took part in the session?  Did any Morbid Angel lyrics or iconographic sources inspire you to do this video?  Did Ken Coleman have any influences on editions of this video?

Nader: The interesting thing here is that outside of petroleum and my own projects, Steve and I have very similar thought s about humanity. Let’s just say, we don’t have very nice things to say. So when I was giving the proposal to write what the video will be about, it was not completely decided what song. When I submitted it, Steve immediately stated that it fits perfectly with “gardens of disdain ” . He sent me the lyrics and I was blown away. It’s those moments of mental Sync when you think to yourself ” that could not have been a coincidence” . The theme revolves around a type of deity which experiments with creating humanity, humanity does what it does best : Disappoints , and the deity sees it as a  failure and destroys it. Believing that the failure may have been a result of the environment in which the human test was grown, the deity sends parts to be regrown onto a beautiful planet : Earth. Notoriority later, the deity comes to visit its creation, only to find that humanity fails it in the same way. Gives up, destroys it by flames, upon his return he meets his higher Goddess, he feels he’s failed in creation and she soothes and nurtures him. Despite it being my own story it really syncs very well with Tuckers lyrics , in the Gods creation of ” Useless beings”.

Oh yes. So I was some what inspired by the deity on the cover  for the demon in my video , Ken modeled the pill , and animated one shot ( the pill heading to earth)

Artienne: Many of your fans compare the new Morbid Angel video to such productions as “Pan’s Labyrinth”, ” Hellraiser” and “Star Wars”.  The scene where the children bodies are ripped into pieces is identified with the aesthetics of gore known from the acceptable horrors of the 80’s but most people unfortunately relate a type of chaos & disgust when it this is applied visually through music .  “Garden of Disdain” reminds me of the painful rituals from the books of Graham Masterton as well as the imagery of Matthew Barney’s “Cremaster Cycle”.  Was this the intended effect, what are your thoughts?

Nader: First, I  want to thank you and all the people who viewed the video and felt that they experienced something profound or genuine. “Hellraiser” is of course a huge influence, I wanted to really go back to the early 90s inspirations with this, as far with my influences, the Morbid Angel song is cutting edge and  cemented in modernity, but there is definitely a return to their roots vibe.  So I remembered the things I watched when I was introduced to Morbid Angel  in the mid/late 90s, like Hellraiser, my first MA album was when “Formulas” was released, living in Egypt, You got what  was handed down to you you didn’t really get to chose. I was into Sepultura and Deicide way before knowing about Morbid Angel, for example. I wanted to reference a movie like Hellraiser.  The violent themes reflect the story within the song, and the natural violence of the rhythm created. It needed to be intense. The Story I wrote for the song, coincidentally ( or not?) follows the lyrics. By that I mean , when MA’s management contacted me  for the potential gig, they asked for an early concept, and without having heard the song or read the lyrics ( I was originally assigned a  different song)  but simply by having some similar ideas to  Steve Tucker and having been  long time friends and collaborators, I thought our ideas would overlap well, but didn’t think it would be so similar, he was quite surprised and showed me the lyrics to the song , I was actually quite surprised. Matthew Barney was a point of interest for me from the early 2000 until 2005 maybe, very powerful intense work. But I wouldn’t call his work an influence on the current version of me, his work is quite in the peripheral of my current influences. However as far as “Star Wars”, and “Pans Labyrinth”, while again not direct influences like Barney, of course its very flattering. But really there are many influences that are  drawn from spirituality, the creation of the universe and life itself,  also scientific theories like Francis Cricks. Crick is the scientist who discovered the double helix in DNA and he theorized about how earth came to earth in capsule.

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No God will claim this garden

Too sickening to the eyes to see this

Long ignored my words of warning

From the world I built, erased

So it shall know no peace in my time


All gods have left this garden

These gods have left in shame

Dismissed and long forgotten

This world of useless being

This endless festering

Artienne: We should return to the figure of the Goddess and Demon.  Who is Goddess and Demon?  Perhaps An, the supreme being?  Do you identify either with specific gods or demons?  On board the Merkaba, it appears a woman has undergone the disfiguring process of deification. What types of meanings does this scene symbolize?  I know Sumerian mythology is a bit chaotic because over the centuries the functions of gods have changed.   Unfortunately  it seems there is a lot of pessimism in your vision… the creation of humanity was a mistake, the gods failed and left the lands.   Would this interpretation be correct?

Nader: yes, that is a great interpretation. There are many layers, the demon is my interpretation of  The Morbid Angel, at least for me that was what I wanted to create, angels are beautiful loving creatures, but if they are dark and morbid , in my opinion they should be  honest and merciless within their wise  philosophical compass, the demon created a form of humanity, feeds them of his flesh and blood, and demanded very little, in return they betrayed him but ultimately he gives them another chance at life, to which he only gets disappointment again. I don’t think its pessimistic, you wouldn’t call a lion evil because it hunts a dear, its simply an exercise in trial and error. Humanity simply is not good enough.

Great observation with the  disfigurement, the deity was at some point forced to make certain ‘shallow’ sacrifices in order to become a fully fledged goddess, the idea is that even gods suffer and even gods have gods that created them.

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Artienne: In your vision you mentioned “Merkaba, a galaxy-roaming vessel”.  How do you approach the vision of Ezekiel and early Jewish mysticism?  How profound are the roots of your inspiration of this symbolism?

Nader: Zero. I don’t allow Abrahamic religions to influence me philosophically as we all know at this point that most of their stories, advice and methods are burrowed from pre-historic and ancients schools of mysticism.  The Merkaba is a diagram of life, a force of the living, the immortal, an energy that is constantly moving and thus does not know death. This is why the living deities reside in it.

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Artienne: How do you rate “The Arab spring” and the political changes taking place in your country? Some time ago I read your article about the political situation in Egypt, have things changed since then?    I also heard about the case of Julio Regeni, a political scientist from Oxford who wrote about changes in your country.  When reading about these types of matters I get the impression that your country is not a safe place, would you feel this to be true?

Nader: Unfortunately , that is a good follow up question to the Morbid angel video, It was a failure and disappointment, despite it being the biggest protest in human history.

Artienne : “Nader is a gentleman, a first class host and a really fun, nice, sincere guy” said Karl Sanders, when visiting for his first time in Egypt.  What are your thoughts about the visit of Karl, Derek Roddy, & Mahmud Gecekusu?  Even with your tight schedule you’ve managed to make a few songs with them.  Do you think your collaboration with Derek has been a success?  When can we expect a new album?

Nader: It was amazing, the stuff is basically still being worked on, although the skeleton has already been flushed out in Egypt with incredible results. Mahmud is a great friend, he’s  the greatest ( along with his brother Ahmet) guitarist and song writer in the middle east, he’s also part Egyptian, despite living elsewhere. It was great having him around and his contribution was invaluable, I cant wait  to continue to work on it with him. Karl’s word are far too kind, I did everything I could to be a decent host, and I am really happy that he had a good time, on the same note, I was also really happy to literally take him to the doorsteps to the pyramid, it was a great honor to be with a man who built a career honoring 2 of the thing is love most Metal and ancient Egypt. This wouldn’t have been complete without Derek’s presence, he really took charge in the studio and we were all blown away with his energy. Despite being around him a lot in the last few years he never ceases to amaze me. There is no direct link to Egypt with Derek, as say being in a band which Egyptian themed or having Egyptian blood, however when I took them all to a non religious spiritual cleansing ritual, as a cultural exploration , to show them the different sides of Egypt. I noticed that he was in tears, he is a real artist and I value his collaborations deeply.

Artienne : It seems music has completely dominated the media and vice versa.  Some people see this as a kind of symbiosis, but also something very destructive because the media has the ability to take advantage of music by corruption.  Do you think the media has this type of influence on music, & if so have you experienced it first hand?

Nader: Unfortunately any industry is corrupt and the sleazy media takes over, which is why its a real pleasure to work with more underground publications like yours, no click bait, no  ads, no incestual nepotism, just pure professionalism.

Artienne: Why did you choose music journalism? What is the most difficult challenge in your work?

Nader: I didn’t. It chose me, Several publications thought I had something to offer and invited me to write for them.  I really enjoyed picking some of these talented artists brains and like anything else I move on to other things.  In writing and interviewing there really aren’t any challenges, I try my best to bring out the most interesting  from the artist, basically I try to approach the artist the way i like being approached. The idea is to get a productive conversation going.

Artienne: Well. Thank you for taking the time to talk to Elestra.

Nader: Thank you for this great interview and everyone reading it, be yourself, find your true calling and your higher self and never give up.

#black-metal, #death-metal, #fb-com-naderflesh, #metal, #nader-sadek