Singer-songwriter and guitarist Karl Sanders has been leading the brutal Upstate metal band Nile for more than 25 years. The band has had a great deal of success, especially overseas; their technically dazzling, eardrum-punishing albums have hit the charts in Finland, Germany, Hungary, France just to name a few exotic locales.
But the band’s ninth studio album, the just-released “Vile Nilotic Rites,” is a bit of a curveball. It sounds just as crisp, skillful and massively heavy as their other records, and it has already met with international success, hitting the charts in Germany, Scotland and Spain. Not bad for an album largely recorded in Sanders’ house just a few miles down the road.
“We did the drums in Athens, Greece,” Sanders says, “but everything else was recorded in my home studio right here in Taylors.”
That’s a notable first in Nile’s career, but it’s not the only one. This is the first album that Sanders has produced, and it’s the first one with the band’s new lineup featuring guitarist Brian Kingsland and bassist Brad Parris.
Sanders says that taking the reins from Grammy-award-winning producer Neil Kernon, who worked on Nile’s last four records, was no easy task.
“There are a lot of challenges when you try to take on a project like that,” he says. “There’s a responsibility to make sure the music’s right. There are a lot of long days. We wanted this to be a strong record, so we really put in extra time.”
“There’s someone new who’s accountable now: me,” he says with a laugh. “I wouldn’t recommend it for the weak of heart.”
Sanders says that 25 years ago, it would’ve been impossible for him to imagine recording a professional-sounding album in a home studio. Then again, he adds that it would’ve been impossible for him to imagine a lot of things.
“Twenty-five years ago I couldn’t have envisioned a 25-year career,” he says. “It was a lot of hard days, busting our asses.”
It helps when you have bandmates who are willing to help out, though, and Sanders says that Kingsland, Parris and longtime drummer George Kollias were more than up to the task.
“Those guys are hard-working and willing to do whatever it takes,” he says, “which is the most important thing you need in a band member, because that’s what it’s going to take. You have to meet the difficulties head on and work through them.”
In fact, most of the “Vile Nilotic Rites” is a total group effort.
“Brian wrote the music for four songs,” Sanders says, “so right out of the gate you have an instant collaboration. But it goes even deeper than that. Everyone was making suggestions, guiding and shaping the songs. There was a real willingness to trust each other and hear each other out.”
Twenty-five years is a long time to do anything, but playing metal music around the world is an especially exhausting occupation. But while other veteran bands like Slayer have retired, Nile is still out there touring and recording, and Sanders says it’s at least partially because they concentrate on what’s right in front of them rather than the distant future.
“We keep focused on the work,” he says. “We finished the record, now it’s time to tour, to meet fans, to shake hands and spread the gospel of this new Nile record. Our greater place in the grand scheme of thing isn’t up to us to decide. That’s up to the fans.”
Nile will be spreading that gospel with a show at The Firmament in Greenville on Saturday Dec. 14, and Sanders says that even after touring around the world, a hometown show is something special.
“It’s important to be taking care of people in our hometown,” he says. “That’s where we’re from. It’s where our lives are; it’s where our friends and families are. You can’t argue with home.”
- What: Nile, with Terrorizer
- When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14
- Where: The Firmament, 5 Market Point Drive, Greenville
- Tickets: $20
- Info: 864-616-5101, https://www.firmamentgvl.com/