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Nile's Karl Sanders: Top 10 Must-Read Inspirational Books

(Image credit: Francesco Desmaele)

US tech-death history nerds, Nile, have made a career taking inspiration from Ancient Egypt, Near Eastern mysticism, ancient art and religion and the works of H.P. Lovecraft and channelling it all through their music and lyrics. 

Ahead of the release of the band's ninth studio album Vile Nilotic Rites, founding member and guitarist Karl Sanders reveals the books, fact and fiction, that have shaped him and his music. 

1. The Doom That Came to Sarnath by H.P. Lovecraft

"This tome of bone chilling tales of horror and the macabre has influenced more Nile songs than I can count. Inherited from my father, who was a voracious sci fi reader/collector, this Lovecraft collection of short stories was written in 1920, and my copy is by now surely 40, maybe 50 years old and well worn.

"Its frayed edges, broken binding, and now yellowed pages lend a sepia-toned ominous feeling of dreaded antiquity to some of my favourite Lovecraft stories: ‘The Nameless City’, ‘The Crawling Chaos’, ‘The Quest of Iranon’, ‘Imprisoned with the Pharaohs’, ‘The Other Gods’, and of course ‘The Doom that Came to Sarnath’.

"While I have scads of Lovecraft volumes - this one just seems to preternaturally leap off the shelf like an undead pre-historic creature springing back to blasphemous re-animation of its own volition; all too frequently when I am writing Nile songs."

2. Book of the Dead translated by Raymond Faulkner

"There are plenty of versions of the Book of the Dead. I myself have several different volumes by various translators and publishers. But this beautiful hardcover one is my favourite iteration of the Book of the Dead as the translation employs word choices especially conducive to writing death metal lyrics."

3. The Mind Parasites by Colin Wilson

"This book was given to me by producer Neil Kernon, along with a few other choice C. Wilson books. It’s a thought provoking Lovecraftian tale of alien forces controlling humanity and its destiny."

4. Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Neitzsche

"Classic Nietzsche, this book has also influenced several Nile songs in the past – on the new Nile disc Vile Nilotic Rites, it rears its eternal head in Where is the Wrathful Sky."

5. The Holy Books of Thelema by Aleister Crowley

"If as a metal fan, you don’t already know what this is, then you are beyond redemption, and my efforts to help you will likely be futile. A source of great inspiration for many Nile songs over the years, but on Vile Nilotic Rites ‘The Holy Books’ spawned the epic track Seven Horns of War."

6. The Book of Thoth by Aleister Crowley

"Much like the resonating quality of the work of H.P. Lovecraft, and how his literature has become endless fodder for countless metal bands to recycle ad infinitum, it’s almost like Crowley’s writings are already death metal song lyrics exactly as they are, and need little to no further elaboration to find their way into a second coming advent as metal lyrics. The delicate line between Influence and plagiarism? At this point I have come to wonder anymore if it actually matters with death metal lyrics."

7. From Fetish to God in Ancient Egypt by E. Wallis Budge

"There is something about Budge’s outdated 19th century take on Egyptology, really all of his Dover published books, and his unrelenting emphasis on the exotic, mysterious, occult, and violent interpretations of Ancient Egypt that somehow works very well for inspiring Nile songs.

"Although modern Egyptologists are sometimes dismissive of some aspects of Budge’s work, he is strangely appropriate, even right on the money when looking at Egypt through the darkly coloured lenses of death metal." 

8. Cthulhu the Mythos and Kindred Horrors by Robert E Howard

"Howard was a contemporary and frequent correspondent of H.P. Lovecraft. This compendium of short stories is a collection of Howard’s more “Lovecraftian-esque” leanings. While not a direct influence on Nile lyrics, the influence is felt through syntax, word choice and general tone. Another book inherited from my father’s collection, and in long advanced aged condition."  

9. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Tolkien’s first book and his last, I have had my copy since 2002. The 5-part pre-history epic has been read so many times that it is literally falling apart; its cover edges are bent, cracked and deteriorated, the spine broken numerous times (tenuously held together with rubber bands), pages dimmed into near illegibility with a sick yellow /grey cast, and the page corners nearly ruined - marred with two decades worth of dog eared page markings.

"It now has some sort of long-lost ancient text feel to it that feels like one is indeed reading the forgotten scrolls of pre-middle earth. It has become a loyal and trusted traveling companion that I go nowhere without."

10. Chariots of the Gods by Erich Von Daniken 

"Why this isn’t required reading in school, I will never know. Seriously, I am not sure that songs on Vile Nilotic Rites like That Which is Forbidden or The Imperishable Stars are Sickened could have even been conceived without the underlying influence of this ground-breaking classic. Inspiration or guilty pleasure, who knows. But I often pick it up when writing Nile albums."

Nile’s new album Vile Nilotic Rites will be released on November 1 via Nuclear Blast, and is available for pre-order here. The band are currently touring the US with special guests Terrorizer.