Amateur Egyptologist and first pharaoh of death metal Karl Sanders has an interesting take on the curse of King Tut’s tomb. When asked if the curse is real, he says, “Who knows? If it functions as a curse, whether it is a real curse or not, it is.”
Fair enough. But Sanders, the main songwriter, lead growler, and axeman for the Greenville, S.C.,-based metal gods Nile, doesn’t appear to be a guy to let demons and bogeymen bother him. Not even the spectre of Bob Jones and his Bible-beating ghouls, which haunt nearly everyone in the Upstate town.
Sanders doesn’t appear to be bothered by Greenville’s ultra-conservative, super-fundamentalist ways. “We don’t care about that,” Sanders says. “We are from Greenville, but Greenville does not factor into who and what we are and what we do. I don’t think it deserves to.”
In fact, he likes life in Bob Jonesville quite a bit. “It’s a nice, quiet place. Rehearsal space is affordable. There’s not too many distractions. There’s not a whole lot to do there. It’s kind of conducive to get a lot of work done,” Sanders says.
And Sanders has been a busy man indeed. In 2009, he released his second solo album, Saurian Exorcisms, and the latest disc from Nile, Those Whom the Gods Detest. While the latter is the sort of epic onslaught of face-melting riffage and lyrical explorations of Middle Eastern history and legend that we’ve come to expect from one of the premier death metal outfits this side of the grave, the former is a haunting and, at times, beautiful instrumental journey into the world of Middle Eastern music.
For some fans, Saurian Exorcisms might have come as something of a surprise — Sanders says the reactions have been very positive — but it proves at least one thing: if and when the day finally comes to bury Nile the band in the dirt alongside the Reedy River and erect a massive pyramid in their head-banging honor, Sanders should still have plenty of work ahead of him making movie and video game soundtracks.
“I’m kind of looking forward to that,” Sanders says. “One day when the live Nile touring finally comes to an end — whenever the heck that will be — why the heck not move into movie soundtracks and video games? I think there’s a big market, and it’s certainly fun work.”
That said, Sanders doesn’t plan to stop shredding six-strings just yet. He and the rest of Nile — guitarist/bassist Dallas Toler-Wade, drummer George Kollias, and bassist Chris Lollis — still have many years ahead.
“That day ain’t here yet, so I don’t think about it,” Sanders says, who is the only founding member of Nile still with the band. “We very much love death metal. That’s what we do and we’re happy doing it.”
For Sanders, the future is wide open for the band, which released its first disc, Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka, over a decade ago. “I like to think that Nile doesn’t have any sort of limitations as far as musicality goes. Who knows where the next Nile record will go?” Sanders says. “I like to think that we’re constantly moving forward with what we do.”
He adds, “Any time you branch yourself out, you grow. No matter what it is you’re talking about. If you wanted to explore Hindu music for that matter, certainly there are lessons to be learned there that you can apply. Music is music. There is something to be gained from all styles of music.”
And while Nile will surely incorporate more cinematic elements into future releases — Sanders notes that the soundscapes of Saurian Exorcisms inspired the direction of Those Whom the Gods Detest — there are surely two instruments that will never, ever be featured on a Nile record.
Sanders says, “I would definitely rule out tubas and banjos.”