Graceful Degradation – Review

Graceful Degradation
Sahara Rain – Sand In Your Hands
Sunday, February 21, 2010

Excuse my laxity in posting of late – sadly real life sometimes gets in the way. Still, to make up for it I bring you one of the best debuts I have heard in years.

Sahara Rain is a Swiss six-piece including two lead guitars apparently – Dave Silhanek and Adi Honegger. As individuals all the band members (Ricci on vocals, Bo Rebsamen on keyboards, Boet Dee Haas on bass and Levent Suni on drums, in addition to the two guitarists) have years of experience behind them and they are putting it to extraordinarily good use in this hard rock masterpiece. Throw in Michael Bormann on backing vocals, production duties and with a hand in the writing duties and you really have an album that can do no wrong.

Ricci has a terrific vocal range and conveys a genuine passion in his singing. Judging as well as one can based on a studio sound rather than a live performance, I would hazard a guess that he’s a pretty charismatic frontman. I’ve seen reviews comparing him to Jon bon Jovi, but I get aq bit of a Joe Elliott sound in his voice. Whatever, he’s exceptional. The harmonisation of the backing vocals (Ricci and Bormann) is fabulous, almost choral in places. Rebsamen’s keyboards are ethereal in places, more straightforwardly melodic in others such as carrying the melody line for the intro to the superb Black Gold.

Some of the tracks throw you for a loop a bit – take Jungle which opens with heavier sounding guitars but then reverts to the hard rock style again. Strangely they manage this without it sounding like a screeching about turn. The Dance makes use of minor chords in the chorus to give it a slightly unsettled edge by not taking the line you would expect of such a catchy track. Add in the occasional Middle Eastern flavour as on Feels Like and Shadow and it’s very clear you’re dealing with something more than the run of the mill hard rock offerings out there.

Sand In Your Hands is ten tracks of hard rock heaven. It was actually released in January 2009 but has only come my way in the last few weeks. According to the accompanying release, Sahara Rain should have been back in the studio in January this year to record album number two. Personally, I can’t wait to hear it.

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