A: Karl Sanders

Now that’s only half a fat joke. Anybody could be the fat guitarist in Nile compared to Dallas Toller-Wade’s scrawny guns, but my main point is that Sander’s has a beastly metal persona to match his physical presence: from being a roadie for Morbid Angel to masterminding one of the heaviest bands ever (fact), the dude is a true metal lifer and the world is a heavier place with him on it. The guy just has great enthusiasm for the genre; in interviews he never hesitates for a second to throw the horns in any situation where it’s even mildly necessary. His fanatic endorsement of guitar companies (usually based on how metal the headstock looks) is probably one of the greatest testaments to career satisfaction I’ve seen. This motherfucker loves doing what he does.

Karl (spelled with a more brutal consonant than mere mortals) also has a bottomless well of interest in ancient Egyptian mythology, which fuels Nile’s lyrics and longer-than-long song titles, as well as his own solo project.

Saurian Exorcisms, his second outing into expanding the instrumental interludes of his main act, is pretty much exactly what you would expect even if you’ve only just been introduced to the concept: sacrificial percussion, cultish chanting, faux-Middle Eastern yodeling and some big, thundering gong hits.

While everyone knows Karl is a brutal shredster, this album shows off a lot of his wider musical abilities which includes hand-drums, synths and instruments I can’t even pronounce (baglama-what now? A glissentar?!). The only other contributor is Mike Breazeale, who joins with the ominous chanting that sounds like it’s coming from a whole congregation gathered in the Valley of the Dead as opposed to two guys in a South Carolina studio. Overall it’s nice to see someone breaking the bone-headed stereotype of speed-addicted tech-death dudes by creating something thematic and ambient that sounds like a film soundtrack. Karl can’t quite restrain himself all the time though; there is a fair bit of sweep-heavy acoustic soloing on the first half of the album.

This sort of music always made sense on a Nile album, both to remind you of the Egyptian mysticism behind the lyrics and to give you some reprieve in-between the suffocating brutality. Now the real question is did you like those moments enough to listen to a full-length album of it? No one should expect this to quench any sort of thirst for new Nile material, and you’re more than likely to tune out a bit during the drowsy, repetitious rhythms. While I’m way out of my element, I also suspect that Saurian Exorcisms has more in common with the desert levels in Diablo II than any authentic ethnic music. All the same there’s enough subtlety in composition and some literal bells (“Kali Ma”) and whistles (“Dying Embers of the Aga Mass SSSratu”) to show that the big guy put a lot of work into this, and I love that guy too much to beef him for not delivering the metal this time around.

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(3 out of 5 horns)


Bonus video:  Karl’s enthusiastic Dean endorsement (skip to 2:35)

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