1. Yes, yes, that's what death metal needs nowadays, revival, a new idea and originality. What made you to get involved with Egypt?
We have always loved Egypt stuff. We had always wanted to find a way to mix Middle Eastern stuff with Brutal , Epic Death Metal. But it took a while to figure out how to do it. I really dig this band called Orphaned Land- Their stuff is VERY authentic, but I wouldn?t necessarily call them brutal. We love to blast and grind so the trick I guess for us is to strike the right balance. No matter which way we lean , we seem to piss some contingency off- There are some folks who think we should be more EthnoAmbient and some who say "what is all this other stuff on a death album?" They are missing the point. We are gonna play the music we want and if it doesn?t easily fit with somebody?s preconception of what it OUGHTto be , then Too Fucking Bad. We happen to like what we are doing. There is no civilization more Death Metal than Ancient Egpyt.
2. Nile, Nile, a name of the river? Does it mean you have been interested in Egypt from the very beginning or was it just to revive thestyle?
Yes the river. We aren?t trying to raise the dead here. Just to pore out a bloody libation upon the Black Earth. Well , I don?t know ? perhaps in a vague musical way we are invoking the spirits of the Ancients- It is said ? "To speak the name of the Dead is to cause them to live again." Hopefully the sounds we are making are pleasing to the Old Ones.
3. The three bodies without heads are sacrifices for the pharao? Sorry,but I don't know much about this part of history, please tell me more about it.
Sort of . They are war captives brought before the Pharaoh for HIM to sacrifice to Amun. Nearly every Pharaoh is depicted in this manner, offering up as bloody sacrifice the helpless naked and bound war captives. In pre dynastic times , the Antiu were the dwellers of the Eastern Desert and Sinai with whom the early predynastic kings of Egypt waged war continually. It seems that one of them must have one a decisive battle , which was held to be of such import that an annual festival was established to commemorate it. The Egyptians would return to the desert and round up hundreds of the remaining Antiu , haul them back in chains naked and have a grand time slaughtering them wholesale at this public festival. This is not an isolated incident , and all throughout Egypt there are temple wall carvings depicting many such scenes of slaughter wherein war captives are shown being ritually slain, offered up as bloody sacrifice to various Egyptian deities. In fact, nearly every Pharaoh is shown in this manner, smashing in the heads and killing many war prisoners with , clubs, spears, swords , and other ancient weapons.
Today?s mass murderers have got nothing next to some of these Ancient Egyptians. There is considerable ancient text devoted to Unas "The Slayer and Eater of the Gods" . He was a 5th dynasty Pharaoh who , after having killed and devoured his family , slaves , and subjects, turned on the Gods themselves in the afterlife. Some how , I don?t find "fantasy gore" lyrics all that moving. There is something much more bone chilling about first hand real violence rather than making up some fictional thing.
The writing about historical stuff is much more fascinating to me. Some people have asked me if the album is an embracement of Anti Semitism and the age old hatred of the Jews. Well , no , but I suppose that there are several genocidal references on "Nephren-Ka" - The Smashing of the Antiu" is not specifically including the Sinai Jews - The Antiu were pre- Hebrew , and I don?t know enough to determine whether or not they are in anyway related to the race that later became the Hebrews. Certainly the Amalachites and the Hyskos were among the hated Nomads at war throughout Egypt?s history. But the Amalachites tormented the Jews as well. In "Stones of Sorrow" there?s a line about "Greased with the blood of Abraham" and it is a reference to Jew enslavement. But we are not neo nazis or anything. It?s just of part of Egyptian history that is particularly violent and barbaric and thus eminently fitting for a Death album.
4. An unknown language is frequently used in your lyrics - is it Arabian? Does any of you come from the area of Nile, Arabia, Egypt?
It?s Ancient Egyptian and Sumerian. These have been dead languages for thousands of years- in other words Milleniums have passed since anyone has ever heard these words spoken. It could be argued that there is no possible way to be sure EXACTLY how these languages were spoken- but scholars have vague guidelines; I just make sure I am pronouncing every syllable and the Gods can sort it out when I am dead whether my or not music is worthy or not. Our Drummer Pete is Lebanese , so he grew up with Middle Eastern music around his house all the time .It?s in his blood. So it?s his uncle?s accent I am blaspheming when you hear us chanting the Arabic stuff. (Hahahahaha)
5. Please describe the songs "Barra Edinazzu", "Die Rache Krieg Lied der Assyriche" and what do words such as "Khunumu Khufu", "Ushabti, Tekenu, Ushabti", "Antiu", A a-herit Nebu Huit-Ra", Tcheser - t Senfic", "Aui-f-em-kha-nef Netri nek Khefa", "Pazuzu" mean? (There is an excellent font used in the booklet!)
Barra Edinazzu is a traditional Babylonian Exorcism Chant. It translates directly as "Begone ! Go to the Desert!" There is a version in the Necronomicon. I had read it about 15 years ago and just knew that it was already a perfect Death Metal Song . Then in the course of surfing around the net looking for Egypt/Sumerian stuff for Nile songs I came across a web page on a University site devoted to a Cuneiform tablet that had the complete inscription. I was fucking astounded. It has the essential middle part that is missing from the Necronomicon version . So needless to say , we got to work on the song. We spent about a year off and on getting the music just right . I got this insane idea after listening to Mortal Throne of the Nazarene that it can?t possibly matter whether or not people understand the words or not. Human beings and animals respond just as much to the emotional content as the exact meanings of the words. There are a lot of things about the human experience that transcend language . I think it?s the same with singing - no matter what language , you can still tell from the tone , the inflection , pretty much what the hell is going on. So probably a few more Nile songs are going to end up in Egyptian , just cause I like the Barbaric sound of the words and the way the syllables just have this exotic sound to them. Die Rache Krieg Lied der Assyriche means "Vengeance War Chant of the Assyrians"- That?s German ? another fascinating tale indeed- I had been surfing the net doin research for the song ?which originally had another title ? when I began realizing that all the really amazing Archaeological stuff is written in French and German- it was eerie coming across the word Pazuzu in the middle of an otherwise completely German text. So the name got written in German just cause it seemed more "Archaeologically" to make it like the stuff I was seeing in these Archaic texts. Khnumu Khufu translates as "The God Khnum is my protector" which is a multi faceted reference. The song Stones of Sorrow is about slaves rebelling cause they are tired of building Pyramids. The Pharoah Khufu was reportedly a fucking Tyrant whose name is taken from the God Khunumu -the God of Potters and Stone Workers ? So when the Slaves are rising in defiance against Khufu the tyrant Pharoah, they are calling upon their patron God to defend them. "Ushabtis" are the miniature wooden carved workers that would be called upon to do ones work for them in the afterlife. They would be buried with a person so as to facilitate the "Chapter for not Doing Work In the Underworld" In fact that whole insane bit right there is taken from the unabridged "Book of the Dead" Tekenu refers to the folks that would be ritually murdered and buried along with the deceased. The "Antiu" were the dwellers of the Eastern Desert and Sinai with whom the early predynastic kings of Egypt waged war continually. "A a-herit Nebu Huit-Ra" is a proper name and title roughly meaning Fiery Blood Drinking Serpent Lord of the Smiters of Ra "T cheser ? t Senfiu" means Sacrificial drink (or goblet) of the Gods of Blood.
Aui-f-em-kha-nef is a reference from "The Papyrus of the Undying" I believe it is a proper name denoting some obscure Underworld Serpent Deity who was worshipped with violent acts of sodomy and orgiastic bloodrinking. It has been years since I was allowed to see that text so I?m going from memory. Netri Nek Khefa means The Divine God who copulates with himself by grasping violently with the hand. Pazuzu is a Sumerian demon. He is usually represented a canine face, bulging eyes, a scaly body, snake headed penis, the talons of a war bird and four wings. He is associated with the pestilential winds and locust plagues.
6.The untraditional instruments on "Amongst?", yes, the Egyptian ones? Are they original or are those just samples? Do you use them while playing live? If yes, my only wish is to see you playing live and die?
The Dumbeks and Thrombukkis and the Ud and assorted little cymbal type things are from Pete?s family. His family are from the Old Country and have had that stuff laying around the house forever. The Human Skull drums and thigh bone flutes the Monks brought with them. Obviously, they weren?t for sale , nor was I allowed to even touch them myself. They are sacred instruments to the Tibetan Bhuddists .I am not sure that they would necessarily approve of what we have done with the stuff they let us record , but we made the proper donation to their Bhuddist Temple and gave them bus fare. It?s crazy - their religion doesn?t prevent them from drinking beer or smoking hash or eating this curious yellow grain mealy-mash stuff that they use to induce visions. They go nuts over American beer - so we gave them a case of Budweiser just to show our gratitude. Go figure. No , we don?t use the authentic instruments live. It would be completely impractical on our budget to carry all that stuff around . I try to duplicate what I can between my guitar synths and my computer .It was insane and mentally exhausting how we were gonna do it until I realized I could configure my PC to do most of the sampling , triggering and manipulation of synths necessary to pull it off live. See , a lot of the stuff the Monks did they just came in and played, not to us , or drum tracks, or anything. We just turned on the recorder and left them alone . Well , to tell the truth they made us wait outside while they did their thing So we had to take what they gave us and make it fit into Nile songs. That required a lot of after the fact audio editing on the computer . I have pretty good chops in Sound Forge , so I was able to also transfer what we did in the studio onto hard disk and into my sampler. So I have it all sequenced up in Cakewalk in my computer and some of it I trigger with my guitar synth and some I just hit a footswitch and the PC kicks in. If any one wants to call it cheating I have to say that they are discounting an awful lot of hard work that goes into making all that stuff work together and reliably every night- besides, there is no way we can afford to drag around extra musicians every night as well as a bunch of fragile ass antique Middle Eastern instruments that would just fall apart after a week in the back of the van.. So unless we sell a gazillion records that stuff will just have to stay home and in the studio. It?s probably not appropriate on the Death Metal shows we do anyway- people are moshing and stage diving and what with the short set given to opening acts we are at the point where we really need to just get on with it.
7.Was it easy to get signed to Relapse?
I have no Idea. We were actually on Visceral and they folded and sold us to Relapse.
8. Your favourite animal on the plate?
Filet Mignon ? rare !
9. Your favourite animal by your legs?
I guess my cat , Gin Gin
10. Would you be able to kill anybody?
Sure. If the situation warranted it. If my kid were in danger or it was self defense or if I was called to serve my country. I?m not a coward. But I don?t really believe in senseless , pointless violence like you see on American TV all the time.
11. And on the contrary, if you were able to bring somebody back to life, who would it be and why?
Myself. If I don?t , who will ? Actually , I wouldn?t mind a few necromantic chat sessions with long dead Ancient Scribes who could help me figure what the hell has gone wrong with the human race in the last 6000 years. Or what REALLY happened between Set and Osiris . Or who built the pyramids and how. But it is said to be dangerous to commune with anybody other than the recently dead of your own bloodline or intimate friends. In a funny way it is sort of like chatting online ? you never can be totally sure who you?re talking to. They might SAY that they?re a 13 year old lesbian nympho ,but it might be just as easily be Chester the Molester or worse yet , the FCC.
12. If I came to visit you, would you invite me to go in?
Sure . Just don?t touch the Ancient artifacts or Ceremonial instruments and we?re cool.
13. What would we speak about, I don't speak English fluently?
We could go down to the totally nude exotic dance club and check out the babes. They speak the international language of sex (hahahahaha) They also are weak for people with accents , so maybe you could show me a few of your Czech pick-up lines (Muahahaha)
14. And what food would you offer me?
Whatever you wanted. I don?t think we have a Czech restaurant here in SC , but we have damn near everything else.
15. How do you compose your songs and do your lyrics play as important part as music?
Usually I have an idea for a song and bring it to the rest of the guys and we work out the arrangement together. I write the words first , because the words usually inspire the right music . That way it all sounds like it belongs together. I used to do it the other way around, music first lyrics second- but It was tougher to arrive at a unified , focused piece. With the words first I am able to sort through stuff and if a riff doesn?t match the Musical picture I see in my mind then it doesn?t get used in that song. A great Chinese philosopher once said that it was more important to a great meal what you don?t serve - Meaning that if you combine just a few of the right ingredients together it is much better than having everything under the sun tossed in. I approach songwriting the same way. The words and music have to all mean the same thing and work together in unison to present one focused idea. Otherwise you have pot luck soup.
16. NILE your music knocked me down, you do great albums, thanks for the interview, be immortal!!! NILE, NILE, NILE...
Hail Jaromir ! Thank you for the chance to talk with you and a great interview! Karl