In 1992, the lead singer and guitarist, André Abujamra, had ended his musical duo Os Mulheres Negras with Maurício Pereira and went travelling throughout the world with an audio recorder in his hand, collecting every kind of music he could find, with the idea of creating a band that combined these various styles with Brazilian regional music and modern styles like rock, pop and electronic music. One of the destinations of his trip was the ancient tombs of Karnak. He was deeply affected by those tombs and decided to name his band after it.
In 1995, Karnak released its first album, Karnak. The album was released by the now defunct Brazilian label Tinitus. After the label's demise, the album was re-released some years after by Net Records. The album was praised by critics but received little airtime on commercial radio. However, Karnak became well-known on university radio stations around São Paulo and it even had some videos played in Brazilian MTV.