Prog-Death masters, Alkaloid, unveils their first very long-awaited video, “Cthulhu” from their exquisite 2015 debut, The Malkuth Grimoire.
Shot on location in Cairo, Egypt, the concept, design, art, and cinematography was achieved by the Egyptian visionary and Extreme Metal artist/promoter, Nader Sadek. The making of it, however, according to vocalist/guitarist Morean, was ‘mayhem’…in more ways than one.
Starting with the traffic, “I thought I knew what chaos was until I experienced Cairo traffic. You can’t imagine…It is the deadliest thing I’d ever seen, my god.”
In September last year, the five virtuosos; Morean of Dark Fortress, Hannes Grossmann (drums) of Necrophagist/Blotted Science, Danny Tunker (guitar) ex-Aborted/Abhorrent, Christian Muenzner (guitar) of ex-Obscura/Eternity’s End, and Linus Klausenitzer (bass) also currently of Obscura, ventured on their first live shows together as a whole unit in Germany and Cairo, using three days between countries and gigs to shoot “Cthulhu” – at least, that was the plan, anyway.
“After the Dublin show,” Morean recalled, “we went to the airport. Danny [Tunker] and I flew to Holland at six in the morning, just to take the 6:00 flight the next morning to Cairo. By the time I arrived in Cairo, I had been awake for 50 hours.”
So, after the life-risking traffic, insult was added to injury as Sadek’s plans for locations kept collapsing like a house of cards. The band, being all German natives, even with Morean’s ‘Babylonian’ multi-lingual abilities, were at a disadvantage as none of them knew the landscape or the language. “The plan was to shoot the video for three days, I think, and then on the 4th day was the show. As with everything in Egypt, apparently, nothing goes as planned.”
Morean said. “First two locations didn’t work out…then he [Sadek] would arrange the locations in a nice old building with a cool atmosphere, something really good for a Metal clip for some sort of mystical, dark occult thing. But, then at the last minute, they would cancel without giving him any reason.”
Over and over, location after location, found and denied, the band ends up setting up in the only place guaranteed admittance: Sadek’s apartment. “We set up a drum set in his apartment, which he somehow arranged, there was a bit of trouble around that. When we arrived, somebody took my suitcase in Alexandria…”
Now that this adventure is starting to play out like a Metalocolypse version of ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to The Metal Video Shoot,’ there’s more:
“Finally, we set up in his living room, in his apartment. We’re about to start shooting when the power goes out.”
And this is before the snakes.
“Since the whole thing was so absurd,” Morean said, “because we were so far out of what we know, the clip just seamlessly fit into it…we shot the band shots and then we did another round of shots where he works with masks.”
About the director, he noted, “Nader is actually quite a serious visual artist. He really has something to say. He has an education in it and everything, so he knows what he’s doing.”
Part of Sadek’s M.O. is the use of masks. In this case, he had the idea of using some kind of silicon-putty kind of mix on the band’s faces, but unfortunately, “those masks didn’t really work so well. We just kept a few tiny little shots. But, for the rest, we just basically look like we had puke on our faces.”
And what video wouldn’t be complete without a cameo? Except, he was more of a ‘crasher’ than a cameo. “We were just doing that when Attila from Mayhem walked into the room.”
He explained, “He likes Egypt, so he was there and Nader invited him to join him for his band for that show and all the Egyptian kids of course, are going crazy because ‘AH-TILL-LAH!’ was there.”
Though he didn’t make it into the video, with all genuine respect, Morean said, “The guy’s alright. He’s a bit bizarre because if you play in the band that he plays in, and having probably done all the drugs that he’s done, it would be better if you were.
But, he just walked right into a shoot and sat down. And what do you do? So, we had to kind of shoot around him.”
Morean continues his narrative from the blackout. “So, the entire afternoon, no power in the whole building until some dude put the fuse back on. The problem was unfathomable for us, so we could not do anything. So, we were sitting around until the power comes back and then we do a couple more shots until the next day.”
It was then Sadek makes a fortunate discovery upon their tourist visit to the Great Pyramids: Just beyond the famous site, Morean had the pleasurable duty to explore and perform on a smaller pyramid that was dedicated to Osiris, the ancient god of the afterlife, a connection Dark Fortress fans will appreciate…
“It was an old pyramid and the public is not allowed in there, it’s an off-limits thing,” Morean illustrated. “But, he somehow set it up that we can go and shoot there. So, I went there with him and it was very exciting. It was just a couple of moments in the clip, but I actually climbed the pyramid.
It’s just a small thing and it looks like a heap of sand with square blocks in it, because it’s sort of collapsed. It’s really old and it’s not maintained but at the same time, it’s Osiris’ Pyramid, so there was something actually really cool to just be crawling around while I’m going ra-grah-ra-ra to the camera.”
But, the real ‘cherry on the pie,’ as Morean says, was when “on the third evening, I think, a friend of his [Nader’s] walks in, takes out a sack, and puts cobras in front of me.”
“I’m just sitting in a chair lip-syncing and there’s a cobra, which was exciting.” At least for Morean.
For Sadek, not so much. “He’s really scared of snakes. I like reptiles a lot, but he actually doesn’t like them. This says a lot about him, because he nevertheless insisted on having them in this video. But, the snake handler, his buddy, of course had to put the snake on him and he’s like *BLAGH!* [freaking out].”
The song, of course, is one of their most brutal and direct attacks, a fan favorite.
Hannes Grossmann, the spearhead of Alkaloid, made this comment about the final product: “I’m happy that we have a quite unique video, which is more than just a band jamming. The imagery fits the occult vibe of the song perfectly. Nader did a great job in capturing the moment.
And hey, there aren’t many bands that have the original Egyptian pyramids in their videos, ha-ha.”
As for future plans for the band, they are currently in the process of composing and collaborating new tracks for the 2017 release on their new label, Season of Mist. Grossmann said, “We are planning to start recording around March. So far, we are still collecting ideas. I think we will finish the songwriting process right before we go into the studio.
Some of the songs might get finished after we start tracking, because we learned that it is best to keep things open until the very end. Sometimes an actual idea grows during the recording process.”
As for Morean, regarding the comedy and tragedy of the making of the “Cthulhu” video, he has no regrets but one: “There’s no Cthulhu!”