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Myrath - Tales Of The Sands CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.97 | 246 ratings

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4 stars Although it's a fairly established fact that Africa does not have the world's most abundant metal scene, an increasingly global economy has allowed plenty of excellent bands from exotic parts of the Earth to see greater commercial success than ever before. One band that has benefited from the modern age of internet communication and economic globalization is Tunisian progressive metal act Myrath. Though their country is currently in political turmoil, they've managed to see an impressive amount of recognition from metal fans worldwide with their third album, Tales of the Sands. And well-deserved recognition it is, indeed. Myrath's unique blend of melodic heavy metal, progressive metal, and traditional Arabic soundscapes immediately sets them apart from other prog metal acts on the scene today, and the fact that they have plenty of technical chops to back it up makes their music all the more worthwhile. Tales of the Sands is a highly successful effort that is both adventurous and professional; fans of progressive metal who are willing to hear the genre convincingly mixed with Arab influences are going to find lots to love on this record.

At the surface, Myrath's root sound can appear to be roughly similar to bands like Symphony X, Royal Hunt, Anubis Gate, and Kamelot with a few Arabic tendencies thrown in, but this is actually a rather false speculation. Rather than taking the established progressive metal formula and sprinkling Middle Eastern flavorings on top, Myrath instead takes both styles and puts them in a blender, thus allowing the two radically different genres to be thoroughly integrated into a style that can only be described as the band's own. Tales of the Sands is also a very heavy album, especially by your 'traditional non-growling' prog metal standards. The riffs chug along with a clear influence from more extreme variants of metal, the vocals are dynamic and powerful, and the drums frequently veer into fast double-kick sections. In spite of the distinctly modern brand of heaviness displayed by Myrath, they never lose sight of melody throughout Tales of the Sands - most of the songs are rather straightforward from a structural standpoint, but the melodic and catchy choruses keeps the band's 'formula' from ever growing stale. Of course, the spellbinding riffs will have an irresistibly headbanging effect on most metalheads, but I think it's the way these spectacular riffs are melded with memorable, yet entirely cheese-free, choruses is what will truly make this a memorable album for years to come. As nice as it would be to see Myrath venture beyond the five-minute songwriting format, they have obtained such a level of mastery on this style of composition that it's tough to complain.

Tales of the Sands is also incredibly well executed from all fronts, and the sleek production is probably what will immediately jump out to many listeners. The powerful, meaty sound perfectly complements the masculine metal riffs and progressive arrangements, and whilst it may be a bit too polished for some listeners, the quality of the sound is objectively spectacular. The musicians in Myrath are clearly quite experienced, and the tight rhythm section is arguably the band's finest asset - the downtuned, chugging riffs set the backbone for all of the tunes here, and they are simply hypnotizing. Zaher Zorgati's melodic and powerful vocals deliver every melody with precision and emotion, and his mid-ranged singing style consistently suits the mood of the music. His voice bears resemblance to more 'masculine' power metal vocalists like Russell Allen or Ralf Scheepers, but he still manages to sound like himself throughout the full album.

This is a memorable and professionally executed observation from Myrath, and there's really not too much to complain about when we're talking about an album with this level of quality. Tales of the Sands shows a creative young band with the ambition and ability to succeed in the crowded progressive metal climate, and I'm sure their heavy, melodic, and eclectic take on the genre will please many fans of the style. This is a truly excellent album, and I'll play it safe right now with a big 4 star rating. I may raise it even higher sometime in the future, but as of now Tales of the Sands still stands as a near-mandatory purchase. This is one of the most recommendable progressive metal albums from 2011.

J-Man | 4/5 |


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