Rating:
9.0
Sand Aura - Elegy Of The Orient
13 November 2012


01. The Sand Aura (From The Land Of Nod)
02. Aljahelia
03. The Orphaned Child I (Pilgrimage For His Name)
04. The Orphaned Child II (Fountain In The Desert)
05. Fountains Of Moses
06. Ya Sabbya
07. The Shepherd's Elergy
08. Sidi Abd El-Raheem


Imagine you're walking through a desert, in the blistering heat, in the middle of the day. Let's say the Sinai desert, since Sand Aura are Egyptian. You're dying of thirst, looking for water in any and all directions. All of a sudden, it begins to rain, and out of nowhere emerges a group of hooded desert-dwellers to offer you rainwater that they've collected in bowls as a drink. As you take your sips, your body is completely rejuvenated, and your mind begins to fully absorb its surroundings, wandering off to dreamlike musings upon what the area was like thousands of years ago, its history, and its legacy. Elegy Of The Orient, the 2012 debut from this little-known African band, paints a picture of such an experience with its music, from its very first seconds sending you on a musically historic trip that doesn't let you go until its final seconds.

It's oriental folk metal in the purest, most intense meaning of the stylistic label, plain and simple. From the native instrumentation ("Aljahelia," "Fountains Of Moses"), to the Arabic chants and spoken word parts ("The Orphaned Child I"), to the beautifully-layered female vocals sprinkled here and there ("The Sand Aura," "The Orphaned Child II"), Sand Aura make it quite clear that they are not fucking around with this release. These guys are prideful of their Egyptian heritage, and they're going to make you realize it. Epic wouldn't be a fair enough word for Elegy Of The Orient. It's better to call it entrancing, or mesmerizing, for at times the spell it casts upon the listener really can make them feel as if they're in a modern (albeit heavier) version of Ancient Egypt! The ambient elements in particular, such as wind blowing at the beginning of "Aljehelia," or the water sounds at the beginning of "Fountains Of Moses," really help to intensify this effect.

But that's not all there is to the grand equation that is Sand Aura, as there are also the progressive and extreme metal elements that help to make Elegy Of The Orient truly unique. What really surprised me in particular was the fact that on occasion, the guitarist carves into some really bluesy, almost psychedelic leads, that are truly, truly tasty (around 2:10 on "The Orphaned Child II" and around 4:10 on "The Shepherd's Elegy"). Then, of course, come the death growls. It's really interesting, because, like I said in my review of The Flight Of Sleipnir's new album, they're not there just to be there. No… it's more like they're there to represent the harsher side of ancient Egypt. Almost as if the more melodic, folky elements stand for Ancient Egypt's beauty: the Nile, the animals, the pyramids, etc… whilst the heavier parts and the growls represent its more brutal side, such as the might of the pharaohs, the enslavement of the Israelites, and so forth, and this is an amazingly well-executed technique.

Sand Aura are yet another example of how fantastic bands can sometimes be criminally underrated. These guys really take an approach to oriental metal that I've honestly never heard any other band replicate, either because their sound is unique to them or because, well, I just haven't checked out enough oriental metal. It's not the evil sound of Nile and Melechesh, and even though it can definitely get quite melodic and proggy at points, it's still not quite Orphaned Land either. No, it's more like just what I said: a celebration of the fascinating nature of the band's Egyptian past, both the serene and harsh sides of it, and Sand Aura strike an excellent balance between the two with their debut, showing much potential for their future albums. If Ramesses II was still alive today, this is probably what he would be listening to for music. Don't believe me? Well then, see for yourself on their Bandcamp

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Production: 9


 



Written on 15.03.2013 by
Apothecary
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Susan - 15.03.2013 at 04:46  
I can HEAR their music listening to your review.

Heard their bandcamp: epic indeed!!!
Kocha - 15.03.2013 at 14:56  
Well, good thing is that there is not too much complexity in their music, since oriental prog can be a risky blend, and also the female vocals are quite enjoyable. Still, it's not even close to Orphaned Land, comparing their debut albums. Something like 7.5 - 8 would be a fair rating. Looking forward to their next release.
Dark†SymphonY - 15.03.2013 at 21:38  
I gave this album a full listen last year, as I love oriental/mid eastern style in metal. Its got the originality and great sound, not yet as good as Orphaned Land or Melechesh, but a definitely a promising future.
Apothecary - 15.03.2013 at 22:09  
Written by Dark†SymphonY on 15.03.2013 at 21:38

I gave this album a full listen last year, as I love oriental/mid eastern style in metal. Its got the originality and great sound, not yet as good as Orphaned Land or Melechesh, but a definitely a promising future.

Yeah, Elegy Of The Orient shows if anything that these guys definitely have potential to grow. Definitely a powerful start, but I see them further developing it in the future.
Frodd - 15.03.2013 at 23:09  
Written by Susan on 15.03.2013 at 04:46

I can HEAR their music listening to your review.

Heard their bandcamp: epic indeed!!!

I did suggest them to you a few months ago
musclassia - 15.03.2013 at 23:11  
9 for production? Unless I've listened to something different, which considering I listened to their bandcamp I doubt, then I wouldn't give it half that. There are some good ideas on here, but the production really doesn't do it service at all. It's got problems aside from it, their songwriting still has room for improvement, but slapping a production job on this that gives the music the chance to shine would possibly increase my rating by a whole point. It'd still not be in the same quality spectrum as Orphaned Land, but for a debut, the actual music is promising.
Apothecary - 15.03.2013 at 23:48  
Written by musclassia on 15.03.2013 at 23:11

9 for production? Unless I've listened to something different, which considering I listened to their bandcamp I doubt, then I wouldn't give it half that.

Hearing is objective, interpretation of the hearing subjective. And personally, I think the production is excellent and clear, giving every part of the mix room to breath and come out, especially with the ambient elements. "Orphaned Child II" is a good example: the chants, guitar, percussion, and nice, audible bass are all right there and accentuated nicely. Nothing really overshadows anything else, and, personally, that's the way I like my production. Or, at least it's how I like it with bands like Sand Aura, where the music is so multi-layered like this that every part needs to be taken into account when judging the overall formula.
Frodd - 15.03.2013 at 23:56  
Written by Apothecary on 15.03.2013 at 23:48

Written by musclassia on 15.03.2013 at 23:11

9 for production? Unless I've listened to something different, which considering I listened to their bandcamp I doubt, then I wouldn't give it half that.

Hearing is objective, interpretation of the hearing subjective. And personally, I think the production is excellent and clear, giving every part of the mix room to breath and come out, especially with the ambient elements. "Orphaned Child II" is a good example: the chants, guitar, percussion, and nice, audible bass are all right there and accentuated nicely. Nothing really overshadows anything else, and, personally, that's the way I like my production. Or, at least it's how I like it with bands like Sand Aura, where the music is so multi-layered like this that every part needs to be taken into account when judging the overall formula.

plus, given the state of metal music in egypt, it really is something.
JD - 16.03.2013 at 00:00  
Written by Frodd on 15.03.2013 at 23:09

Written by Susan on 15.03.2013 at 04:46

I can HEAR their music listening to your review.

Heard their bandcamp: epic indeed!!!

I did suggest them to you a few months ago

I also suggested Sand Aura's EP(5 tracks of this album) to Susan a year ago for the next Clandestine Cuts back then, but she didn't take my suggestion seriously.
Frodd - 16.03.2013 at 00:04  
Written by JD on 16.03.2013 at 00:00

I also suggested Sand Aura's EP(5 tracks of this album) to Susan a year ago for the next Clandestine Cuts back then, but she didn't take my suggestion seriously.

SUSAN: Not taking us seriously since '11
musclassia - 16.03.2013 at 11:15  
Written by Apothecary on 15.03.2013 at 23:48

Written by musclassia on 15.03.2013 at 23:11

9 for production? Unless I've listened to something different, which considering I listened to their bandcamp I doubt, then I wouldn't give it half that.

Hearing is objective, interpretation of the hearing subjective. And personally, I think the production is excellent and clear, giving every part of the mix room to breath and come out, especially with the ambient elements. "Orphaned Child II" is a good example: the chants, guitar, percussion, and nice, audible bass are all right there and accentuated nicely. Nothing really overshadows anything else, and, personally, that's the way I like my production. Or, at least it's how I like it with bands like Sand Aura, where the music is so multi-layered like this that every part needs to be taken into account when judging the overall formula.


Actually, the track you specifically mentioned has a better sound than I remembered; I think my comment was probably due to coming straight off the back of The Shepherd's Elegy. I'll comment on that song to try and justify my comments, although I did rather overreact; yes everything is audible, but it's that kind of tinny, messy garage sound, if that's the best way to describe it, which I don't think gives the music the chance to shine, compared to, say, the clean sound on something like Mabool or ORwarriOR (yes, Orphaned Land is a lazy comparison but I can't be bothered to think of a better one), where everything is layered so perfectly and sounds so beautiful that the production doesn't even cross my mind. I mean, for example, the fuzziness on clean guitar solo sound just really doesn't serve the music that well in my opinion. The music is multi-layered, but I find that at times, some of the layers get sidelined when everything's going on due to the sound. I mean, I went OTT and would probably give it a 6 or something, but I do think there's definite room for improvement in it.
And the other guy does make a good point about it being great for what's available, but I just guess it then depends on whether you rate something based on what's available to the maker or based on what's the 'gold standard' as it were (which of course is entirely subjective and different people will prefer different things).
Dark†SymphonY - 16.03.2013 at 21:07  
Odious is a good comparison for Sand Aura, both from the same country and use Egyptian instrumentation. Gave this album another listen today thanks to this great review. The first paragraph just sums up the album straight away.
The Moor - 17.03.2013 at 14:13  
Never heard about this band before. Very nice discover and fantastic album. Great review!
Swordbearer - 19.03.2013 at 11:06  
This sounds awesome, I have to check this.
jadawal - 20.03.2013 at 17:51  
First song is awesome, the production isn't professional but still sounds refreshingly great

edit: the digital drums/cymbals take away from the music a little bit in my opinion
Apothecary - 20.03.2013 at 22:28  
Written by jadawal on 20.03.2013 at 17:51

the digital drums/cymbals take away from the music a little bit in my opinion

That I can definitely agree with, but at the same time I kinda think the native percussion makes up for it. Not all the time, but when it's needed. After all, they are an oriental metal band, so (theoretically at least) they could really just make an album of all the music except the drum parts, and then just add in the native percussion in its place. And now that I think of it, that'd actually be a lot more epic, in my opinion.

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