Karl Sanders: Saurian Exorcisms

Best known for his work fronting the Egyptian-flavored death metal act Nile, Karl Sanders, between spending time in libraries looking through antiquarian books on the ancient Middle East and touring his main gig, occasionally finds the time to write a solo album or two.

Well, this is number two, the follow-up to 2004’s Saurian Meditation. It was much like listening to a Nile record without Nile on it; that is, not very metal, but still very Nile. Loaded with harmonic minor scales, the mainly atmospheric work was flawless in its execution but ultimately a calm experience.

Saurian Exorcisms, on the other hand, is less meditative and more getting a demon out, as the titles might imply. Still mostly instrumental—there’s some chanting/invocations, particularly on “A Most Effective Exorcism Against Azagthoth And His Emissaries” and “Kali Ma”—Sanders’ latest is far more engaging, tense and eerie, often with several syncopated rhythms working in tandem (“Azagthoth” again being a prime example). Setting the largely melody-driven pieces against screams and grunts on cuts like “Shira Gula Pazu” forcefully injects a primal urgency into the otherwise-intellectually-stimulating material.

That isn’t to say all of Exorcisms is hair-raising. The opening and closing cuts, as well as “Contemplate This On The Tree Of Woe,” are more in line with Sanders’ meditative side and the track arrangement manages to create an elegant arc—a building, climax, and denouement. Traditional Egyptian sounds with the ethos of progressive/technical metal, Exorcisms is an able companion for any desert journey.

In A Word: Entrancing