Sand Aura - Elegy of The Orient
Label: Haarbn Production
Reviewer: Mohammad 'Fredd' Farid - 2012-08-07
Highlights: Most of the tracks
"Elegy of The Orient" is Sand Aura's debut EP, it's built on the concept of "we are all human" and "the belief of the unification of all cultures, religions, and historical backgrounds of the new age's concept" - according to the band's official Facebook page. This concept is quite unorthodox for a metal record and, in my opinion, this thematic direction came about due to some past events. So, as an explanation, here is a not-so-brief summary of the history of the Egyptian metal scene.
The Egyptian metal scene was estblished around the late eighties, it started small and grew until in 1997, when the God-loving former regime decided that Metal was evil and that metalheads were all blood-drinking, youth-corrupting Satanists. They then proceeded to do what they did best: round people up. They held over a hundred metal fans, tried them for "Apostasy," sentenced them to death, and - in a show of kindness and omnipotent acceptance - offered pardons if they "returned to their religion." Thankfully, no one was sentenced. In my opinion, that stunt was probably a diversion from some iniquities that the regime was partaking in at that time.
Expectedly, there was a musical and social dry-spell in which metal was effectively banned in the years following those proceeding. Then, during the mid-2000s, the internet proliferated and the younger Egyptians discovered metal and thus began the second wave of Egyptian metal; steadily becoming more socially acceptable.
I apologize for the lengthy introduction, you were probably expecting an album review, which is what I will manage to provide. However, I will not review it song-by-song as I'm assuming you have ears of your own.
Sand Aura plays Progressive Metal with Heavy Folk influences, both in instuments and in lyrics. Their songs feature a lot of singing and talking-parts in Arabic as well as growling (which is mostly sung in English) and some female vocals. The lyrics (which are not posted on the internet) are mostly about peace, religion and history; quite philisophical indeed and a nice break from all the anger and gore. The music features Egyptian folk intruments and standard metal instruments, both are used to create a distinclty Middle Eastern sound. The musicanship is pretty decent, just don't expect Dream Theater-like proficiency. Although, what you can expect is a soul, there are genuine emotions in the music. Sure, there are some hiccups, some out of sync playing but overall, it's decent enough for most listeners. It is so for me.
"Elegy of The Orient" creates a few nice atmospheres by using an Arabian Jaheliya (pre-Islam) inspired atmosphere in which they use poetry and movie quotes, an Egyptian folklore atmosphere, a (depressing) contemporary Egyptian atmosphere and good Old-school Metal blasts for the gigs. The production is really decent, which is percisely what this album needs. The highlights of this EP are the vocals, especially the spoken Egyptian Arabic parts and that's what makes this album special to me: its character.
This is not the first nor is it the only oriental metal album out there. It's not the most technichal nor catchy but still it's one of my favourites. The technical parts are the only weak points in this album but instrumental proficiency is just a matter of time and practice and this band already has the talent. I hope this EP will not be the last that Sand Aura will release, they should and could compose a full-length album on the foundations of this successful EP.
Recommended for any Middle Eastern metalhead.