Metalheads are quite well-versed in Nile's obsession with Egyptian history, but there's more to band leader Karl Sanders' boundary-shattering death metal that's been prevailing for more than two decades. Saurian Apocalypse, the third Eastern-ambient solo album from Sanders, dropped this year and it finds him again returning to ritualistic/meditative music achieved through the utilization of a number of cultural instruments, such as the Bağlama, sistrum, dumbek and glissentar.
In spirit of this release, Sanders has bridged the gap between world music and heavy metal, offering up Five World Music Albums Metalheads Will Love Most.
Sanders, who formed Nile in 1993 and released the otherworldly Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka Nile debut in 1998, branched out with his first solo release, Saurian Meditation, in 2004. For many metal fans, it was likely their first taste of true world music and an eye-opener to cultural sounds played with more traditional intent amid the folk metal explosion that took place around this time as well. At the least, this was the case for one Loudwire writer in particular.
Five years later, Sanders served up Saurian Exorcisms, another exercise in Eastern-ambient music and a refreshing change of pace from the downtuned riffing fury and blast beast-intensive death metal purveyed by Nile. The timing was quite interesting as well — Sanders continued to explore this musical avenue while simultaneously expanding the sonic and lyrical scope of Nile into Egypt's neighboring Middle East region.
Evolution and open-mindedness is generally the key to long-lasting success and this seems to be true of Nile and Sanders, so join in below and see his picks for world music albums for metal fans!
Get your copy of 'Saurian Apocalypse' here and follow Nile on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Hear more of Sanders' solo music on Spotify.
Karl Sanders, "Skull Fuck Ritual (Skull Breach Edition)"
Peter Gabriel, ‘Passion: Music for the Last Temptation of Christ’
This album was pretty much my entry point to world and ambient music. It opened lots of musical doors for me as a listener, prompting me to scour local record shops in those days for Indigenous music from all parts of the Earth.
To make the film soundtrack, Gabriel used the resources of WOMAD, an organization he founded, to bring together musicians from the Middle East, Africa, Europe and South Asia. Passion featured some world music A-list musicians, such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Youssou N'Dour, L. Shankar and Baaba Maal.
Not exactly “world music,” Heilung is an experimental neo folk music band. Their music is based on ancient texts and runic inscriptions from the Germanic peoples of the Bronze Age.
As a metal fan, what I love about this band is they indeed capture a very pagan vibe, with very old pagan music instruments – such as horse skin drums painted in human blood, deerskin drums, human bones, deer bones, buffalo horns, rattles with human ashes, Hindu ritual bells, and Mongolian throat vocals.
A Palestinian oud trio originally from Nazareth, these three players are brothers, and the way they play together is mindblowing. A friend of mine sent this to me, saying “They sound like oud players playing Nile riffs,” and when I heard this record, I understood exactly what he meant.
Majaz is like a dreamy, soundtrack-like take on traditional Palestinan folk music, but its wealth of Persian oud mastery has a common link with guitar masters such as Al Di Meola, Strunz & Farah, and Paco de Lucia. This album has become one of my all time favorite records.
Trial of The Bow, ‘Rite of Passage’
A project by members of the ‘90s doom ambient metal band Disembowelment, Trial of The Bow is an unforgettable, timeless masterpiece of ethno/ambient/world music. Metal people love this album and it has becomes a resonant chord within metal listeners; it has a soul of doom metal, but in a quiet, dreamy, hypnotizing way.
Ostad Mohammad-Hoseyn Yeganeh, ‘Music of Northern Khorasan’
Yeganeh sings and plays an instrument called the dutar, a two stringed Persian lute of ancient origin. This record is completely obscure, and I would have never heard of it except for an Iranian friend of mine who sent it to me. The music of Yeganeh is Iranian Folk music, sure, but some of the music on that CD is strangely related to some of the most insane metal music I have ever heard.
Due to the dutar’s tuning in fourths and fifths (the equivalent of the modern power chord, much abused in all forms of metal guitar music) and the overwhelming amount of Persian minor key root/fifth chords tremolo picked at insane tempos – there is a striking musicological resemblance to a modern evil black metal style of guitar playing.
But much of Yeganeh’s music by all means sounds like no simple, mindless guitar abuse. Between the odd time signatures and ancient Persian melodies, and by the musician using all five of his fingers of the right hand (as opposed to the simple duple meter intrinsic in the singular up/down motion employed when using a pick) the resulting complex barrage of insanely bizarre, odd time rhythmic note groupings at mind numbing virtuoso tempos is like no metal or any modern band could possibly imagine.
‘Kenya and Tanzania Witchcraft and Ritual Music’
Another completely obscure CD I found not long after [Peter Gabriel's] Passion soundtrack had whet my appetite, causing me to hunt the dark corners of local record shops. It’s a compilation album of anthropologist’s recordings of various African Voodoo and witchcraft ritual music.
Some of it is just bizarre, and nearly unlistenable – it's not an album in the pop music sense, it's actually the deepest darkest ritual music made by banging on weird unnamable primitive instruments, many of them made from animal and human bones and simple primitive stringed or horn/bone flute type instruments.
The music on this disc is eerie, unnerving, and spooky AF. Like the kind of “ambience to an exorcism” that sounds probably much as it has sounded since the earliest humans started getting together for late night bonfires, fertility rites, cannibalism and making curses.