Review: Wael Daou – Sand Crusader

Brazil has given us much, currently its biggest exports are Soybeans, Iron Ore, Crude Petroleum and Sugar and now there’s this! Wael Daou is a one man sound machine and guitarist extraordinaire who’s just dropped a massive slab of music on us from a great height. ‘Sand Crusader’ spans over two discs and will be a treat to the ears of anyone who love some experimental Progressive Death, instrumental interludes and the sound of a man who’s guitar is like an extension of his being!
There are pretty much two shades to this album, lets tackle the first. Half of the tunes that make up ‘Sand Crusader’ are Progressive Death complete with some amazingly crushing riffs, harmonised guitar solos, guttural vocal work and the odd middle eastern female vocal stuck in for good measure. The songs (opening track ‘Scourge of Humanity being a great example) weave through many twists and turns, guitars drop out for electronic breaks before slamming back in, you really never know where the music will run but when it gets there it seems so natural.
In a further twist, title track ‘Sand Crusader’ starts softly with keys before slamming in to a beautifully bouncy rythm complimented with middle-eastern melodies on paino. The track then goes into a power metal style verse before descending into a death metal beat-down which will have folk running for the pit. There are so many ideas wrapped into this track it is by far my favourite of the bunch.

The second shade of the album is its instrumental side, many of the second half of the first disc and most of the second are amazing progressive pieces told primarily through Wael’s immense talent for his instrument. These interludes also show a great depth of variety, mood and emotion for example the two part ‘The Awakening’ provides a brooding darkness whilst ‘Power to Believe’ showcases a more light, relaxed and spacious side to the listener.

I thoroughly enjoyed both aspects which make up this album, it’s one that I have returned to many times during the past couple of months and will no doubt many more but…and it’s only a very small but, I think the album could have done with having the vocal led songs more evenly spaced throughout the instrumental segments to give a bit more balance to the listener.
If variety is the spice of life then Wael Daou’s album ‘Sand Crusader’ is a veritable spice rack, full of interesting progressive death metal and sweeping instrumental segments. This album is sure to please many, happy listening!

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