Sound: Nile's guitar virtuoso Karl Sanders continues to startle and surprise with his latest solo endeavor. In what can only be called another huge departure from the Nile sound, Sanders' 2nd solo album takes the listener on an almost cinematic experience. Saurian Exorcisms is a fitting follow-up to the likeminded 2004 solo release Saurian Meditation, but this time around things get a little eerie. Don't think you know exactly what's coming when you hear Exorcisms in the title Sanders doesn't rely on cheesy, horror movie clich's and instead lets the music convey the message. Saurian Exorcism delves into more tribal/primal themes than the general story around movies like The Exorcist, and the result is a beautifully arranged and quietly disturbing piece of work.
Drawing from his passion for Egyptology, Sanders once again injects a strong Middle-Eastern influence into each of the 10 tracks on Saurian Exorcisms. Nile fans will not necessarily get their fix of groaning electric guitars, but when those are stripped away, you get a better grasp of just how talented a musician Sanders is. Playing the acoustic guitar, balama saz (a Turkish lute that features half-step frets), and glissentar not to mention that he tackles the percussion, synth, and many of the vocals Sanders is a powerhouse.
From the opening track Preliminary Purification Before The Calling Of Inanna, it's obvious that Sanders is exploring more influences than his usual Egyptian inspirations. Along with the Middle Eastern sound, the song features almost a Native American touch with tribal-like drumming. Sanders could have easily taken the easy route by overloading the senses with evil-sounding sound effects, but instead he delivers a soothing, mysterious soundscape with a series of stringed instruments.
Most of the album is devoid of the usual lyrical content, which is one of the most distinct differences between Saurian Exorcisms and Saurian Meditation. There are a good number of chants and haunting moans, and those subtle additions are extremely effective. At the heart of every piece is Sanders' extraordinary playing, and you will hear some absolutely astounding solos on the album. Rapture Of The Empty Spaces features a variety of instruments against guttural voices, and if you added distortion, it could make the transition to powerful death metal track. The topic at hand, exorcisms, somehow never upstages the musicianship of Sanders, and that is a pretty spectacular feat. // 10
Lyrics: Chants and moans are the only vocal additions on Saurian Exorcisms, and there could very well be some deep lyrical content present but it's in another language. It should be mentioned that all the vocals were done by Karl Sanders and Mike Breazeale, and those include the parts that sound like women. Again, Sanders is going above and beyond the expected. // 9
Overall Impression: Saurian Exorcisms is no death metal album, but inexplicably it creates a much darker, foreboding vibe. Give credit to Sanders, who not only proves he is capable of writing movie scores if he so desired, but also has never sounded more proficient at guitar (and multiple other instruments). The pinnacle is reached in the tracks Shira Gula Pazu and Kali Ma, if only because you feel you're standing in the midst of an actual tribal exorcism, complete with haunting bells/percussion and diabolic chants. It all fit's in with the general arrangement of the song, with every cry or moan seamlessly working with the instrumentation. Saurian Exorcisms might veer from the usual metal path, but at this point it's Sanders' magnum opus. // 10