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Scardust - Strangers Award winner

by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 29 September 2020, 12:03 PM

SCARDUST, a Theatrical, female-fronted Progressive Metal band formed in Israel in 2015. With one prior release under their belt, they are now releasing their sophomore effort, titled “Strangers,” on October 20, 2020. The album contains eleven tracks. “Overture for the Estranged” opens the album. Choir like vocals open the album. It builds into a symphonic frenzy from there, with a really pretty melody line. Everything is in the right place, and these guys are fantastic musicians. A key solo is followed by a bass and then a guitar solo, and all are downright virtuosic. What an opening track!

“Break the Ice” opens with more of those choir like vocals, then the tender voice of Noa Gruman fills the air. The backing vocals are thick and the melodies are tactile. They play with the meter as any seasoned Progressive Metal band would. That guitar solo is again superb. They surely remind me of the might and power of DREAM THEATER. “Tantibus II” is a shorter song, but with no less instrumental prowess. The vocals are thick and the melodies are bright. Noa mixes in some harsh vocals here and there, really showcasing her talent when she stretches into the upper ranges.

“Stranger” opens with some instrumental chaos and then it settles into a tender song with charming vocals. Some piano notes take center stage around the half-way mark, followed again by a great guitar solo done in perfect pitch of the song. The extended instrumental passage really shows what these guys are made of. “Concrete Cages” is close to eight-minutes in length. It opens with what sounds like bagpipes and strings, dueting together in this pretty song. Guitars, bass and drums soon join in, and you have a full and rich sound, high with melodies. Noa’s vocals are solemn at first but she pours on the emotion, and is honestly one of the best singers in the genre. She can roar like a lion, or sing with the most tender notes that you will hear.

“Over” is also a longer song, opening with a dark and heavy guitar riff and more of those choir like vocals. A scream comes in soon, letting you know of the nefarious nature of this song. She sings mostly with harsh vocals but mixes in some cleans. The song has a desolate sound to it. The instrumental frenzy after the half-way mark is impressive. “Under” features a more swinging groove, complete with piano chords. The soft, angelic voice of Noa makes an appearance, and the song passes a warm breeze would over your face. The thick vocal harmonies push the song over the top.

“Huts” is a three-and-a-half-minute track of big keys and even bigger guitars. I love that I can hear the bassist, as his talents are not wasted in the band. Noa reaches the upper ranges of her voice, then belts out a quick harsh vocal passage. Suddenly, the melodies wash over you, cleansing you. “Gone” opens with bass guitar and keys and this all-out melody. Noa again mixes in clean and harsh vocals in this faster moving song. The drum and guitar exchange is very well done…in the same manner as RUSH would have back in the day.

“Addicted” opens with some instrumental prowess and more of those choir like vocals. Once those guitars get going, it’s impressive how tight they are. Where has this band been all my life? The bass guitar solo amidst the backing choir is downright bossy. “Mist” closes the album, with tender and charming clean guitars and vocals. It’s a very pretty way to wrap up and album that was chocked full of more notes and melodies than anything else I have heard this year. For a sophomore effort, this album has it all. Virtuosic instrumentation, more time changes that you can count, and an absolute winner of a vocalist in Noa Gruman. The album was so well done that I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Overture for the Estranged
2. Break the Ice
3. Tantibus II
4. Stranger
5. Concrete Cages
6. Over
7. Under
8. Huts
9. Gone
10. Addicted
11. Miss
Itai Portugaly – Keyboards
Yanai Avnet – Bass
Yoav Weinberg – Drums
Yadin Moyal – Guitars
Noa Gruman – Vocals
Record Label: M-Theory Audio


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