eGigs gets a few minutes on Nile's tour bus before their London show with Suffocation and chats to guitarist Karl Sanders on new album 'What Should Not Be Unearthed' and his unrelenting opinion as to why the fans should and will dominate over the critics every time.
How has your tour been so far?
So far, so good. I think the tour has actually gone really well. Suffocation – incredible band. The bill is a strong draw. Every night of the week, no matter where we are, the crowds have been very strong. We're all very pleased.
It's always a pleasure to have Nile in London.
I love playing in London. Always a great show.
Have you ever been to the British Museum?
You know, I would really like to go but I've never had time. Usually when I'm in London, I'm doing interviews.
How has your new album 'What Should Not Be Unearthed' been received by fans and critics?
I would say that it's a super strong record amongst fans and is…doing well with critics, although I've seen some reviews where they probably haven't even listened to it. I can tell when someone has listened to the record. You can just tell with the details. The negative reviews seem awfully generic like they didn't even actually listen to it. They just took whatever hype that was from the record company that accompanied it so I can tell. This record is doing strongly with the fans. I don't care if the critics don't like this one; we don't do this for the critics. We made this record for our fans. The critics can suck it. They will never be appeased. They're not the ones who support us. The fans, the people that come to shows, the people that buy records, t-shirts – that's who matters, not the fucking cocksucker who gets a free download from the fucking record company every month. He gets a pile of free downloads writing some generic bullshit on his website. Does that fucking person matter? They think they matter – there's a lot of self-importance going on – but do they actually matter? No, who matters are the fans. It is one person's opinion. My opinion of this record – and I'm entitled to my opinion just as much as any critic thinks – it's a pretty good record worth listening to and I think Nile fans will like this record.
It's a lot less technical and straight-forward than 'At the Gates of Sethu'. Was this a conscious decision?
Absolutely, the focus is definitely on the song-writing and achieving the metal spirit. That's what fucking matters. How well you play and how intricate it is – that's all well and good but it has to serve a higher purpose.
Do you think there are some people who understand that as a technical death metal band, every album should be more developed and sophisticated than the last and so might be disappointed with this one?
Having said all that, we have not abandoned who we are; it's still a very technical album. It's just that it has been harnessed for a higher purpose, like you can have a racehorse and if you let it run around in a pasture – that's great, there's a nice thoroughbred horse running around in a pasture - but if you take that same horse and train it to run around a track, well, now you can race. Now you can have something worth having.
Beyond the musicianship being a little more simplified, how else would you describe the album as being different to prior Nile releases?
It's a very streamlined record. The way the songs have been put together, there's nothing wasted, every riff is counted, nothing stays on too long. It has been honed down. I think this is a very focused record. It's to the point, streamlined, very effective. You can walk away from this record – if you actually listen to it [laughs] – with some content. There's some content. With each of these sentences, we are throwing flaming darts at critics and some of the ridiculous things they say about this band.
One of the issues with Nile is that you have joined a pantheon of fairly successful death metal bands and signing to a larger metal label like Nuclear Blast is seen to some people as a sellout move or whatever. It's not like you're millionaires.
No, we are not millionaires but there are people who throw rocks at us just because we do it well. They will hate us for that reason. On the last record we did, there were people who didn't like the clean sound and now on this record, they're saying: "It sounds like the same old Nile. They didn't change anything.” I've heard that criticism multiple times. You can't make people happy. You can't do it so we don't care about that. This record is for the fucking fans.
And so you shouldn't! 'Call to Destruction' on the album may be the first Nile song you've written that doesn't deal directly with the Egyptologist perspective, being about ISIS' destruction of historical monuments. Is that the case?
Pretty much. It comes from news articles in 2012 – radical clerics were calling for the destruction of the pyramids. I saw all these incredible quotes and they were making all these demands and I said: "That's a fucking metal song right there. You don't have to change a fucking thing." Everything that came out of this dude's mouth is sheer fucking song writing poetry. You've got to write a metal song, so I did. The idea that radical Muslims want to tear down the pyramids – it's like, c'mon! Tear down the pyramids?! Are you fucking kidding me?! How ridiculous is that?! I had to write that. Not writing a song about it would almost be a crime.
It sounds like throughout your albums, there has been a decline in your Egyptian melodies and atmosphere. Now they seem more limited.
I'd say that's a shallow perception because when we play the Egyptian melodies on traditional Egyptian instruments, everybody gets it.
But even with the guitar riffs, some lead melodies are obviously drawn from the Egyptian sound. I could be wrong but I feel like 'Annihilation of the Wicked' and 'In their Darkened Shrines' had more of that than the last couple of albums. Even 'Ithyphallic' had a comparative decline but was still a great album for other reasons.
Sure but…I don't know if I'd call it a decline but there are other things that we do in there as well. You can try and expand your sound and keep things the way they were. To do this, sometimes, you have to do less of that so…Despite criticisms to the contrary, there are different things on these different records. That doesn't necessarily invalidate what we were trying to do on these other records. We were trying to add different elements to what we do. Perhaps the percentage of strictly Egyptian melodies seems less, that doesn't mean there's an absence of it. They're still there.
Indeed but it's not as in your face as some of the mid-era albums.
Yeah, we made it really obvious. You can't ignore it, yeah. Hopefully there's a development of subtlety in what we do as time goes by whereas it's not necessarily a child screaming at you; it's an adult screaming at you.
That's the end of my questions. Do you have any final words for the readers of eGigs?
We're really happy to be on this tour with Suffocation.
Yeah, it's a good line up. Thank you very much for your time.
I enjoyed this a lot.