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Karl Sanders - "Saurian Exorcisms" (CD)

Karl Sanders - "Saurian Exorcisms" CD cover image

"Saurian Exorcisms" track listing:

1. Preliminary Purification Before The Calling Of Inanna (3:51)
2. Rapture Of The Empty Spaces (4:23)
3. Contemplate This On The Tree Of Woe (3:53)
4. A Most Effective Excorcism Against Azagthoth And His Emissaries (5:29)
5. Slavery To Nitokris (5:54)
6. Shira Gula Pazu (4:59)
7. Kali Ma (3:38)
8. Curse The Sun (4:52)
9. Impalement And Cruxifiction Of The Last Remnants Of The Pre-Human Serpent Volk (4:10)
10. Dying Embers Of The Aga Mass SSSratu (6:10)

Reviewed by on April 16, 2009

"Sanders is one of the best guitarists out there today, and 'Saurian Exorcisms' only further drives that fact home with a thrilling sophomore album that should open many eyes in the metal community."

Nile has been praised over their career for mixing brutal death metal with Egyptian influences. These influences come across not only in the lyrics, but in the acoustic interludes. Dropping any semblance of death metal, these short pieces are imaginative and epic in scope, with tribal percussion and chanting used to captivate the listener. Guitarist/vocalist Karl Sanders has always been a firm proponent behind the cultural diversity of Nile’s sound, vesting a great interest in ancient Egyptian history.

Sanders took this passion and crafted a solo career out of it, sticking to ambient instrumental music. His 2004 debut album, “Saurian Meditation,” was a breath of fresh air and a major surprise to the majority of death metal fans. On his sophomore album, “Saurian Exorcisms,” Sanders sounds at ease and more confident, leaving the guest musicians at the door. With the exception of a few chants done by long-time collaborator Mike Breazeale, Sanders does all the instrumental work himself, a daunting task to say the least.

“Saurian Exorcisms” could have been an over-indulgent, stagnant affair or a safe rehash of “Saurian Meditation.” To Sanders’ credit, he does neither, pushing himself further as both a musician and a composer. Each of the ten tracks their own separate entities, weaving a rich atmosphere along the way. An entire album of ambient instrumental music can turn into a mundane experience almost immediately, but Sanders avoids this pitfall with adventurous songwriting that favors long-term satisfaction over instant gratification.

Opening with the percussion-heavy “Preliminary Purification Before the Calling Of Inanna,” Sanders is quick to evoke a dreamy mood, as the drums leave a hypnotic effect on the listener, a characteristic that reigns supreme throughout the entire album. “Rapture Of The Empty Spaces” is upbeat and strangely catchy, a feat made possible by the eccentric acoustic work from Sanders. Fast, technical, and memorable, his guitar work is the super glue that tightly holds “Saurian Exorcisms” together.

Sanders aimed for a creepier vibe on the longer tracks, especially in the one-two combo of “A Most Effective Excorcism Against Azagthoth And His Emissaries” and “Slavery Unto Nitokris.” Unworldly chanting and multi-tracked drums are used to set up a dark presence that hovers above and suffocates the listener during these tracks. Sanders is in top form with these tracks, making every instrument have a grand impact and building upon each other to create a symphony of musical nirvana.

The list of instruments used is wide, and the fact that Sanders plays every one himself shows the astonishing natural talent that he possesses. Acoustic guitars, drums, various percussion, keyboards, glissentar, and baglama saz are just a small handful of what listeners can expect to hear on “Saurian Exorcisms.” Each one of these creates a hybrid sound that combines traditional Indian, Middle Eastern, Tibetan, and Egyptian music, something that will be appreciated by those willing to expand their musical tastes.

Sure, there will be some close-minded metal fans who will scoff at “Saurian Exorcisms,” seeing it as a dull and pointless project that doesn’t have enough blast beats and distorted guitars to keep it interesting. Any fans of Nile’s calmer moments or instrumental music will find “Saurian Exorcisms” to be a worthwhile experience that shows Sanders in a different light. Sanders is one of the best guitarists out there today, and “Saurian Exorcisms” only further drives that fact home with a thrilling sophomore album that should open many eyes in the metal community.

Highs: Strong ambient music, dark vibes, Sanders acoustic work

Lows: Hard album for close-minded metal fans to digest

Bottom line: An excellent sophomore album that will appeals to those with an open mind and fans of instrumental music.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)