Scardust
Sands of Time

Progressive, symphonic Israeli metal band for fans of Delain, Between the Buried and Me, Dream Theater and Orphaned Land? Mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Devin Townsend, Amon Amarth, Amorphis) ? Ok, I’m interested.

Scardust’s debut album, Sands of Time was originally self released in 2017, but has been picked up by M Theory Audio (Into Eternity, The Absence, Hecate Enthroned) to be available for the first time outside of Israel, and I’m thankful, as this is one of the more ambitious female fronted metal bands I’ve heard in some time.

The album plays like a  dramatic metal opera akin to Therion, and isn’t your  usual female fronted verse/chorus, gothic sugary bluster. Guitarist Yadin Moyal clearly loves Dream Theater, as there is lots and lots of noodling and proggy, shifty time changes and bassist Yanai Avnet delivers lots of twiddly bass runs and solos (just listen to “Sands of Time: Hourglass”). Of course, the star of the show is vocalist Noa Gruman, who delivers all ranges from full on operatics to ethereal croons  and powerful choruses to more sultry tones. And the orchestration and choral arrangements of gifted young newcomer Alex Nicloa is top notch, with sweeping bombastic themes, that actually stray from the expected, cliched  Middle eastern tones.

The first half of the album is five tracks “Sands if Time”:, Overture, Eyes of Agony, Dials, Hourglass and Sands of Time. And its downright epic. Even if the 4 minute instrumental intro is a bit much, notably, “Dials” and the conclusion “Sands of Time” are simply enthralling and captivating in their shifty, shimmery compositions.

The rest of the album is just as good, as the addictive, totally uplifting “Arrrowhead” (that little Broadway choral break towards the end is to die for), except the track “Out of Strong Came Sweetness”, featuring Kobi Farhi of Orphaned Land is the album’s weakest cut and seems a bit shoe horned in to feature Farhi.  However, the next track “Queen of Insanity” delivers a surprisingly stern and beefy proggy opening stanza (including death metal growls and screams from someone) and continues to show Gruman’s skill as she delivers sheer, soaring vocal crescendos. “Blades ” comes close to a ballad of sorts, but still has a heavy choppy, noodly,  Dream Theater backbone, before closer “Gift Divine” renders a true prog ballad, I just wish the album closed an more energetic note rather than 2 slower convoluted but still engaging songs.

Still, while bands like Jinjer seem to get a lion’s share of the attention, and certainly no disrespect to them, but Scardust is hemorrhaging  talent at every level and should be getting more media attention all over as they are burgeoning stars.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
July 10th, 2019

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