The Israeli-based female-led progressive-metal alchemists SCARDUST follow up their critically acclaimed debut masterpiece “Sands of Time” with the ultra-theatrical “Strangers” — an intriguing concept album which deals (rather presciently, we think) with the concept of being estranged.
Due to the pandemic, the album was recorded against all odds, in the first half of 2020, to be mixed by the renowned Yonatan Kossov (Amorphis) and mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Devin Townsend, Arch Enemy).
As usual, vocalist NOA GRUMAN takes centre stage. And for this expressively encompassing achievement, the band brought together a full scale orchestra (and choir) to enable such panoramic sounds, conducted by Noa herself. Though,the nerve centre of creation is, of course, Yanai Avnet on bass, Yadin Moyal on guitar, Itai Portugali on keys and Yoav Weinberg on drums.
“The album separates into two parts…”
“The album separates into two parts…” says Noa.
“Every song from the second part is a mirror image of a parallel song in the first. Each pair of songs tells the story of a pair of strangers. They can be played together as a standalone piece, as individual songs or as part of the album, whatever the listener’s heart desires…”
Complicated songs such as “Gone” (video shared below) combine clever arrangements, subtle tonality shifts, and inventive rhythmic impulses to deliver virtuous dramatizations. But not everything here is costuming and histrionics; No, this might be poetical in nature but it has sharpness, neat boundaries and lots of capable, razor-like tension that metal fans will enjoy.
The second track from the album, “Break The Ice” takes advantage of the beatific nature of the backing vocals, and also highlights the incredible sublimity of Noa’s acrobatic quavers, as her voice plummets then surges — higher than is feasible — against a modest harpsichord.
“Stranger” is a multifaceted composition, with an interlocking fabric of guitars and basses, beautifully rendered drums, and atmospheric keys. Noa’s song-voice on this track is opalescent and damson-plum-toned, with an autumnal silver hue. The solo guitar-work on this number is also breathtaking.
This is a gorgeous and borderless piece of art. With a monumental scale, it comes complete with many exquisitely visaged moments & plenty of tenderness and nurture to enjoy.
File alongside: Ayreon, Schandmaul
Words: @neilmach 2021 ©