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Sand Aura: Elegy Of The Orient

Elegy Of The Orient takes us to Egypt as the vaults of HAARBN Records whisks us back to 2012 and a band called Sand Aura; and credit to the label, for having already brought us acts from Morocco and Moldova, Sand Aura are also the first Egyptian band I've encountered. A first that may be but from the Arabic script throughout the booklet, what isn't such a surprise is the Oriental Metal which contains strong nods to Orphaned Land, which is found on the disc itself in fact, Orphaned Land leader Kobi Fahri included this band on his Century Media Oriental Metal compilation CD a while back. That said, Sand Aura do hit with even more of a Middle Eastern flavour, long sections focusing on powerful Arabic vocals and Egyptian themed instrumentation, which gives a truly home-grown flavour as the guitars mirror the themes. In contrast Muhammed Hassany provides a reasonably convincing blast of "extreme vocals", although they can be a bit cookie monster in places, while the strong riffage adds to the expected levels of Progressive Metal bombast.

The mix of themes and ideas does allow Sand Aura to possess enough individual character that they aren't merely Oriental Metal clones and "The Shepherd's Elegy" is a prime example of how they bring their elements together; an extremely slow build of vocals and gentle musical backing laying a foundation for roaring guitars, vocals growls and thunderous drumming to take things in a different direction. Strings bolster that heady atmosphere as spoken word sections add an eerie edge, allowing the mood to wind down many varied paths. At times, as does "Aljahelia", although, rather than an organic evolution, the sections do feel a little tacked onto each other here but there's still enough interest and skill displayed to hold the attention. With a tendency to run towards, or over, the ten minute mark it's easy to suggest that if Sand Aura were to rein in the running time of their compositions, then they might have more cohesive results, and yet the opening blast of "Sand Aura (From The Land Of Nod)", which exceeds eleven minutes, is the album's crowning glory; hand percussion running alongside a sharp guitar line very effectively indeed.

Released with little fanfare back in 2012, Elegy Of The Orient is an, in places, accomplished debut which hints that given time Sand Aura could make a similar impact to that of Orphaned Land. Although to reach those heights there is considerable work to be done.

Track Listing
1. The Sand Aura (From The Land Of Nod)
2. Aljahelia
3. The Orphaned Child I (Pilgrimage For His Name)
4. The Orphaned Child II (Fountain In The Desert)
5. Fountains Of Moses
6. Ya Sabbya
7. The Shepherd's Elegy
8. Sidi Abd El-Raheem

Added: December 27th 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Sand Aura on facebook
Hits: 1944
Language: english

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