Review: Sahara Dust - Cry For The Moon
Better Production Needed
Sahara Dust is the original incarnate of Epica. They recorded this two track demo before deciding to change their name. The band was started by Mark Jansen after he departed from After Forever. The band uses the typical beauty and the beast vocal arrangement. Mark handles the harsh vocals while mezzo-soprano vocalist Simone Simons handles the prettier female vocals. While she has achieved a fair amount of fame with Epica and her guest and live appearances with the popular power metal band Kamelot, this is where people first heard her vocals.
Sahara Dust has a gothic feel with lots of symphonic influences. These symphonic elements are realized through the use of the keyboard. The keyboards are mostly effective enough, however the intro on the self titled track is somewhat monotonous. The songs have a very epic feeling, which brings out the major problem with this release - the production fails to carry the epic vibe. While I have heard metal bands with productions 100 times worse than this, good production is crucial for this type of metal to succeed. There is this epic guitar line in "Cry For The Moon" which doesn't live up to its full potential because of the production. It ends up not having the exiting effect it could have had.
Even though Simone was only a teenager here, it is apparent she is a very talented vocalist. Her performance sounds operatic; even at her young age she was definitely no amateur. On "Illusive Consensus" she is the only vocalist on the track. Instrumentally the song is a bit dull, and her vocals are the only thing that makes the track interesting. I wish there where a bit more harsh vocals here, as they provide a wonderful contrast to the female vocals. The appearances they make on the title track is all too short. The guttural growls are awesome and the raspier vocals are done well.
To be honest, I haven't heard that much from Epica. But the tracks I have heard I remember hating quite a bit. Now while I don't love this, I certainly don't hate it. The production is definitely the biggest detractor here. It doesn't completely ruin it, but it does stop it from being what it could have been. The songwriting is definitely competent, as well as the overall musicianship. The vocals are well done and there certainly is chemistry. If the production was improved, more harsh vocals were thrown in and perhaps a few more songs added, this could have been pretty good. While not bad, I don't really get the feeling I'll be coming back to this all that frequently.