In this week’s Meet The Band spotlight is the Canadian death metal group Tribe Of Pazuzu. After a couple of EPs they just issued their full-length debut Blasphemous Prophecies. Vocalist/bassist Nick Sagias (Nihilist Death Cult, ex-Pestilence) introduces us to his band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Tribe Of Pazuzu.
Nick Sagias: I guess it began with the ending of Soulstorm at the end of 2016, and in 2017 I wrote the songs (the original versions of) “Blind Disciples” and “Burning of Diseased Empires,” as well as the NDC songs “Imperium” and “You Get What You Deserve.” So with those songs plus a few more, I was talking with my friend Jason Deaville and he flat out said “you should do something with Flo (Mournier, Cryptopsy) drumming” and then from there followed a year of intense focused writing. Jason also suggested John McEntee who helped Tribe out on the first two EPs, and also Randy Harris to contribute solos. Since the recording of the first two EPs, John has been super busy with Incantation and was not able to contribute this time around, which is totally understandable and we welcome him back whenever he wants.
Describe the songwriting process for Blasphemous Prophecies.
The process of songwriting has always been the same for Tribe as well as for NDC. I write riffs all the time, in my head. From there I try and record it, depending on where I am, sometimes I hum the riff into the recorder on the phone, which I seldom do but it is one of the tools and it does help. Other times I try and write out tabs if I can’t get near the studio, but mostly I will record the riff at my home studio. Then I send the songs out to a few people. Randy and Jason get them, then I send tabs to Randy, and then at some point, usually closer to the studio I send Randy just drum tracks with the updated faster tempos, and he records the scratch guitar that Flo will follow when he records his drum tracks.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
There’s this small greasy spoon on the same block as the studio and damn they make a killer pizza with Montreal smoked meat on it, which we always get when we go back to record there.
How did all the guest appearances come about, and what did they add to the album?
I’m super appreciative that these guys were able to fit this in with their busy schedules. With Jorgen (Sandstrom), I’ve wanted him on a recording for a while now but I didn’t feel it was the right time before. I did some back ups for him on one of the Torture Division recordings (a song called “The Reaping”) and I really wanted to get his killer vocals on a Tribe song.
During the vocal recording on the new album, I mentioned to Christian (Donaldson, Cryptopsy) that I tried to reach out to Luc (Lemay, Gorguts) thru Facebook and was unsuccessful. I wanted him for “King Of All Demons,” but I contacted them about a week away from the recording and I don’t know if the message ever got to him. Plus I know he’s super busy, and both Christian and I were espousing our love for how heavy Colored Sands is as an album and Christian just picks up the phone and says I’m calling Luc to ask him to do some vocals.
Luc was super happy to hear from us and was so into it and he would find some time in his busy schedule. I’ve known Luc since around 1989 and Jorgen since 1992, so it really means a lot to me that these guys respect and enthusiastically contribute to my work. With Christian, somehow Randy had missed a couple solo parts, there are lots more on this album than on previous songs and then Christian offered to do them, which was pretty cool and to get another lead style in a couple parts would be a cool compliment to the songs and overall vibe I thought. It’s a great array of guests including the regular players, just an awesome list of people that I’m proud to be working with.
How has your sound evolved from your EPs?
I think if you look at the first EP, the lengths of the songs was a bit more varied, as well as a bit of the styles, going from short grind type song (“Indoctrinated”) to a slow crunchy death metal song like “Blind Disciples” to more full throttle relentless (“Heretical Uprising & Proliferation”). I think KOAD followed that with more evened out song lengths and I tried not to have too many slow or mid tempo songs on it, and then that theme was more of the focal point on Blasphemous Prophecies. I didn’t want any slow or mid paced songs at all on this, focusing more on the relentless nature of the style. It’s just something I want to be more of what we’re about. Everyone does slow and mid paced and that’s fine, I just want to be relentless and not let up with the style at all. I feel I owe it to the people who buy it and support us. You can tell it’s still Tribe of Pazuzu on all the recordings because the intent of the style is always to be fast and relentless, no compromise.
What lyrical topics do you cover on this one?
On Blasphemous Prophecies the lyrics are about people throughout history; not necessarily all evil figures but there is definitely a darker side to all of them. There’s Nostradomus and his predictions, while he was not an evil or dark figure, the lyrics more focus on his prophetic visions, and how one would live with that. “Serve Under No God” deals with Crowley’s teachings, there’s a song for the Countess Bathory with “Countess of Blood,” a song about Pazuzu taking physical form, manifesting here and now. “Trial And Prosecution” is based on The Passion of The Christ and the brutality of it and the betrayal, and even Yog Sothoth is summoned for “Invocation of The Ancients.”
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
My goals and expectations have already been met. I feel I took my songwriting up a step with this album and I got to record my songs with killer musicians at a killer studio and it came out pretty much how I hear it in my head. On top of that, Vic Records wanted to release it on CD with killer cover art by Santiago from Triple Seis Design to represent the album, so I’m pretty happy. Would be cool to have it on vinyl and to tour, though.
Do you have any plans to play live?
Unfortunately no plans yet.
How did you get started in music?
I remember always being interested in music, interested in sounds, interested in recording. Around 9 years old my mom bought me an AM/FM radio with cassette player. I used it all the time recording stuff, then starting to play bass around 13/14 yrs old. Just learning around then, then getting way more serious around 16 and coming up with riffs that would end up being Overthrow songs, and during that time, using 4 track machines to record demos. I was always interested in the recording aspect of it all too, but lately I’ve been able to relinquish some of that control for the greater good and be relieved of it. Christian is a pro at what he does so I don’t have to worry about anything really, I like all his sounds and mixes, I’m never sitting there thinking the kick drum could sound more like this or the snare more like that because I trust Christian and how he hears the instruments and how they work with each other. The only thing I have ever had to say to Christian about any of the mixes is to turn up the guitars, this is a very guitar centric style of music, these riffs are deliberate and need to be heard loud.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Early influences to start playing bass would have come from listening to Kiss, Pink Floyd, Rush and then getting into heavier stuff like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Like the earliest influences I wanted to play bass, and by the time I got into heavy metal and Iron Maiden I was playing bass, and around 14 (1984) getting into heavier stuff like thrash metal, Exciter and Razor, Celtic Frost. Around ’86 some of my favorite thrash releases came out and really influenced me (Darkness Descends, Reign In Blood, Pleasure To Kill, Eternal Devastation, Persecution Mania) mostly the German thrash scene, so it was around ’86 that I started writing in that style. Between the Overthrow demo (’89) and album (’90) recordings though, death metal was really starting up. ’89 had some of my faves with Morbid Angel’s Altars of Madness and Obituary’s Slowly We Rot and hearing Martin Van Drunen’s vocals.
What was the first metal concert you attended?
The first metal concert I went to was when I was 16 and I saw Metallica on the Master of Puppets tour with Metal Church opening (Dec ’86). They were originally supposed to play at the Concert Hall in August, then James Hetfield broke his arm so they had to postpone the dates. When they came here a few months later they had Jason Newstead on bass, the show was amazing.
Who are your top 5 favorite Canadian metal bands?
Gorguts, Cryptopsy, Votov, Panzerfaust, Northumbria
What are some of your non musical interests and hobbies?
I like to paint and take photographs. I do mostly abstract style painting using different acrylics as well as certain objects to give it a third dimension, add texture and the photography is usually more architecture and textures. I used to have a great 35mm camera and a place that developed film but then the film developing place stopped doing a certain border I liked, then they completely went out of business. The camera needed repair as well and of course was cheaper to buy something new rather than repair it; just everything was against it near the end…
What’s the best thing you’ve binge watched lately?
Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Yes, thank you for the opportunity. I have another band that is more hardcore punk/death metal hybrid thing. It’s called Nihilist Death Cult and we just released and album called Death To All Tyrants, 9 songs of fury, produced and mixed by Scott Middleton.
(interview published March 11, 2023)
Listen To Tribe Of Pazuzu – “Blasphemous Prophecies”