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Myrath - Tales Of The Sands CD (album) cover

TALES OF THE SANDS

Myrath

Progressive Metal


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Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Tales Of The Sands' - Myrath (8/10)

Over the past few months, the world's eyes have been set on the Arab world, with breaths held in anticipation of the rapid political changes that are taking place. Myrath is a progressive outfit emerging from one of the region's smaller nations, Tunisia. Being the first metal band in the country to ever reach a wider audience, Myrath (the Arabic word for 'Legend') have engaged audiences already with two albums of top-tier progressive metal, fusing Middle-Eastern traditional musical influences in with their brand of melodic metal, much as the more established band Orphaned Land does. With a unique mixture of sound, excellent songwriting, and great execution, Myrath's 'Tales Of The Sands' is a fantastic album in its own right.

Being someone who was under the impression that exciting melodic prog metal died around the turn of the millennium under a blanket of Dream Theater clones, it has been a huge refreshment to hear a band that may be doing something similar to the legends of the genre, but are putting a validating new angle on their sound. Before listening to what Myrath had to offer, I was admittedly fighting a doubt that this could be a run-of-the-mill power metal band, using sounds of their homeland as a gimmick to pull in listeners, but as is fairly rare for my experience with metal music, I was proven wrong. While progressive power metal mixed with Arabic music sounds pretty much as one might expect, the Oriental sounds in the music are infused superbly in with the metal, not sounding contrived, but instead as a sincere element of the songwriting.

As far as Myrath's overall sound is concerned, I could most easily compare them to the neoclassical power metal titans Kamelot, except with the obvious replacement of European classical influence in favour of Middle-Eastern music. 'Tales Of The Sands' is a noticeable lean away from the Oriental sounds when compared to their earlier work; the Arabic music is still an integral part of the music, but its presence is more moderate. Without this main draw of their sound though, Myrath would still be an upper tier melodic progressive metal band. They do sound quite a bit like bands like Symphony X or Kamelot, but the whole thing is done so well, and unlike so many melodic prog metal apostles, Myrath knows how to make it heavy . The guitar parts here are chugging and low in many parts, especially on a track like 'Sour Sigh', which moves from a dramatic symphonic intro to a series of dark and heavy riffs that makes you think there could be a growl around any corner, but Myrath sticks to the clean and melodic vocals.

Zaher Zorgatti really a magnificent vocalist, and while at times he sounds like a pretty standard power metal vocalist, its his ability to do the metal vocals and traditional Arabic vocals with equal strength. The metal instrumentalists here are excellent, with a particular applause going to the rhythm guitar sections, which manage to sound larger than life. The Middle-Eastern sounds here are also much more than the gimmick I thought they might pull; it really sounds like authentic Arabic music has been mixed in with the metal. It's the Oriental influences which take the album from being great to being excellent.

There's really not too much I could complain about when it comes to Myrath's third album. The songwriting is all top-notch, even when the band ends their album on an AOR note with 'Apostrophe For A Legend'. It would be great to hear this band take their exciting blend of styles past the four or five minute mark and compose something even more ambitious, but Myrath's work is consistent and expertly produced. This is a great album from Tunisia's contribution to the metal scene, and I've been pleasantly surprised by this band's sound.

Report this review (#505756)
Posted Friday, August 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The third album from this, to put it mildly, original sounding Tunisian prog metal band.

Take one large chunk of Arabic folk & popular music and then add it to that frying pan of progressive metal. That is the best label you can put on the music on this album...... and their previous two albums too. Myrath is one of a kind and even more original than Orphaned Land.

The music is most definate prog metal, but the added Arabic and some pomp prog aka Muse gives this album it's very own identity. I don't have a clue about the names of the various strange sounding Arabic instruments here. But the basis is guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and vocals. All of them performed with great skills. There is no doubts the band is excellent in their own right. A bit too close to Muse and Symphony X at times, but the Arabic influences overrules those influences. In short; there is nothing on this planet like Myrath.

I am not a fan of progressive metal by any means. But the quality of this album is great throughout and I cannot argue with that. This band knows how to write and record some great tunes. Like for example Braving The Seas.

In short, this album scores high in both the originality stakes and in the pure quality stakes. It should give the band the breakthrough they really deserves.

4 stars

Report this review (#510346)
Posted Saturday, August 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Very interesting album!

I really love when I discover music from countries that I barely know (of course I don't mean physically), and it is always better when the music is well done, and of course when I like it. And this happens now with Myrath, a band previously unknown to me, but that caught my attention first because I saw they were from Tunisia, so when I received via Freeman Promotions the digital download invitation I did not hesitated and downloaded it.

"Tales of the Sands" is the third effort of this original prog metal band. It features ten compositions and a total time of 45 minutes where you will find complex compositions, metal with a mid-east /African flavor, cool vocals and great instrumentation overall. It starts with "Under Siege" and since the very first seconds I felt attracted, I like the female voice that appears after that keyboard beginning. Later heavy guitars and keyboards making that mid-east Arabic sound which is very attractive to me. I like it.

"Braving the Seas" follows the same path, the sound is actually alike, but that is simply Myrath's style, which is unique and acceptable. "Merciless Times" is a shorter track. I have to mention that the vocals are pretty nice, they do have that kind of Arabic tone, which is perfectly complemented by keyboards and that mid-east flavor.

The title track "Tales of the Sands" is a wonderful track, with very nice acoustic guitar and soft sound for the first seconds and then turns heavier with those cool guitars. There are also percussion that spices the sound and give it an even more interesting flavor. After three minutes there is a great guitar riff, accompanied by heavy drums and the always prominent Arabic keyboard sound. This is one of the highlights.

"Sour Sigh" once again has a soft start that only lasts for some seconds just before the song explodes and the rhythmical structure begins. This is another of my favorite pieces on this album, I love the vocal game and the instrumental moments (short but great), and including of course the powerful and exquisite guitar riffs. An original sound that determines Myrath's style and distinctive label.

"Dawn within" is the shortest track, but it is full of quality and originality no matter its length. The drums here are outstanding, making several and dramatic changes that talk about the quality of the drummer. But well, the quality of all the musicians is evident, there is no doubt about it. "Wide Shut" is another powerful song with outstanding use of keyboards and a great intercalation between instrumental and vocal parts. Excellent song!

"Requiem for a Goodbye" starts with chaotic and bombastic keyboards, then guitars, bass and drums, along with the voice joins and start building up a structure. Though this is a nice track, it is not one of their best, not one of my favorites either. It has a couple of nice solos, one of guitar and one of keyboards. It suddenly slows down and becomes tender, but all of a sudden returns to its powerful sound.

"Beyond the Stars" has a great vocal performance which has that wonderful and inherent Arabic flavor. The music follows the same path as the previous ones, but the good thing here is that instrumental interlude after three minutes, it is great. "Time to Grow" is the one that closes the album and reminds me to some older power metal bands, but of course, with Myrath's style.

It is a great metal album, an original sound from a band that should have more exposition and be better recognized. Even I, an skeptic man regarding the metal scene am pleased with this album, so I believe people who really love the genre will totally adore this album. My final grade is four stars.

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#510761)
Posted Sunday, August 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
5 stars Arabian sounds blended in with powerful metal riffs create a mesmirising journey.

Occasionally one hears an album that surprises for its sheer innovation. Myrath's "Tales of the Sands" was an immediate love affair for this reviewer. The music is absolutely stunning in it's originality and sleek powerful arrangements. There are truckloads of distorted metal riffs to divulge in, but the real drawcard is the way the band integrate Arabian/Tunisian melodies and instruments into the mix creating a sound that is unique and compelling. Right from the start on Under Siege, there is no mistaking the fact the band are staying close and true to the style of their country, and not only is this commendable, it is refreshing as this makes the band stand out among the plethora of other metal acts rising up. The female vocals are present on some tracks and overall the vocals are well performed, clean and powerfully delivered. The music is very listenable and quite complex utilising killer riffs and crunching time sig shapes using full blown metal blasts. There are fast tempo sections, blazing guitars, hammering drums and frenetic keyboards all balanced with strong melodic metal.

Braving the Seas is a fine example of the style of the band. The time sig shifts are terrific and the pace varies throughout. Zaher Zorgatti is an excellent vocalist, perhaps as good as any metal vocalist I have heard over recent years. He sings in English making this very accessible yet the style remains as oriental as anything you will hear from Tunisia. There is an Arabian feel throughout the album and this is noticeable especially on Merciless Times. The melody is infectious, particularly the fractured guitar riffs and wonderful keyboards by Elyes Bouchoucha that sound like Arabian violins.

On the title track Tales of the Sands the Tunisian flair is even more prominent and the massive bassline by Anis Jouini is powerful. The female vocals soar across all the metal rhythms, and it actually captures a Middle Eastern atmosphere. The keyboards match the distorted riffs and there is a divine lead break with some fret melting speed work from Malek Ben Arbia. It ends with an acoustic outro culminating in an amazing track that I could listen to numerous times and never tire of.

Oriental violin sounds begin Sour Sigh that are joined by devastating riffs and the accomplished vocals of Zaher Zorgatti. It builds in an intense chorus and some heart pounding rhythms. The riff at 3:38 is mesmirising and the lead break is sensational, serving to lift the track to another level. It reminds me of Dream Theater or Symphony X at times; dynamic metal with incredible vocals.

Dawn Within is a heavier track at first that settles into a moderate feel in the verses. There are fast paced passages balanced with melodic metal. At 2:03 minutes in it locks into a choppy riff and then is followed by the insane lead work of Malek Ben Arbia. The drum patterns of Saif Ouhibi are intense and expertly performed.

Wide Shut is one of my favourite tracks with strong Arabian keyboard violin sounds and guitar riffing. The complex time shifts on this are quite astounding. I recommend this track to all those who want to try the band for themselves. It encompasses all that makes this album great and unique. The lead break is dynamite with high squeals and frenetic speed, and there is a fabulous keyboard motif that the guitars riff along with. It even has a quiet section that showcases the gentler vocal expertise of Zorgatti.

Requiem for a Goodbye follows another dynamic synth line and Metallica like riffing, and a crunching hammer of guitar chords leading to a melodic chorus. The double kick drumming of Ouhibi are relentless. I particularly like the way the keyboard violins balance off all the distortion. Once again the lead break is scorching, super fast speed picking and sweeps, traded off with keyboard flourishes, similar to how Dream Theater take turns in the lengthy instrumental breaks. The whole thing soon settles down into a minimalist piano but it is temporary as the heavy guitars soon drive the track to its conclusion.

Beyond the Stars is another of the more Arabian sounding tracks with a violin sounding break towards the end and some warbling Arab style vocals throughout. It is a powerful mix and certainly is a part of this distinctive sound, blending perfectly and without pretentiousness. It is one of the reasons I rate this album so highly; it is unlike anything I have heard in prog metal and the band are so damned good at their craft it is amazing.

Time to Grow concludes the album with a forceful melody driven track that features a fast keyboard motif and lengthy instrumental lead break. This track sounds least Arabian but is short and the power metal riffs make a satisfying conclusion. The bonus track that is available is Apostrophe for a Legend, and it is not too bad though not as good as other tracks, sounding more AOR, though I like the melody.

In conclusion, I gained an enormous amount of enjoyment from this album, in particular the standout tracks are the title track, Under Siege, Braving the Seas, Sour Sigh, Wide Shut, Beyond the Stars and Requiem for a Goodbye. Overall the album can be recommended to Dream Theater, Symphony X, Kamelot or Riverside addicts. It is hard to find fault with it, as it just delivers from track to track; all killer and no filler. Metal heads will love this as will the prog fanatic into a heavier sound. It is certainly one of the most refreshing unique prog metal albums of recent times. I am going the full 5 stars for this; I was completely mesmirised from beginning to end.

Report this review (#511192)
Posted Monday, August 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Simply, Myrath new album "Tales of the sand" is initially the top-notch album of 2011 for me but I prefer to wait a tad till the end of the year in desire of shunning hastiness...

Myrath created here the perfect combination of oriental atmospheres and Prog metal so far, and since I'm living in this part of the world it touches me like no one before due to the old and continuous disappointments with Arab's and oriental music scene, I think Myrath paved the way for a whole new music prospective in Arab countries and we will notice a bunch of bands doing similarly and influenced by them in the near future.

The album is highly melodic with rich, lush arrangements and stellar production created by THE Kevin Codfert, And regardless the five standard instruments, violins dominate Myrath's identity playing a big role by creating catchy melodic oriental phrases, and with the assist of "earthen hand drum" that resonates from time to time a tale of the sand image is completed.

The influence of Michael Romeo is clearly spotted in the guitarist riffage, stunning, powerful and versatile and even though the solos are not as good as the riffs in my opinion, still it fits the songs in general.

To highlight the album, all tracks are spectacular especially "Under Siege" "Merciless Times" "Sour Sigh" while track 9 "Beyond the Stars" contains one of the most devilish and head banging riffage i've ever heard while the Arabic chorus with Tunisian accent enrich the surprising moments of the track followed by an oriental phrase that reminded with the masters Laco tayfa a great band from turkey.

Overall the drummer is doing a good performance with a large variety of rhythms and rolls And the bassist is adding the salt to these savory meal especially in track 4 "Tales of the Sands" where he did a powerful -right in place- bassline.

Regarding the vocalist, I think Zaher will have a place beside the masters of Prog scene in the future, he succeeded in impressing with his dramatic versatile performance both in Arabic and English singing to the extent that he appended a new entertaining part to me which is "Arabic singing" (actually I forgot when I last sang in Arabic while listening to music!!!)

Finally and Literally I don't give full mark unless I'm pretty sure of what I'm reviewing, and in "Tales of the sand" case I couldn't find a particular reason for not giving a 5 stars, every single moment of the album is fantastic in its own right and I urge all Prog metal fans to give them an ear because Myrath is like putting symphony x, adagio and kamelot in a mixer creating a delicious irresistible cocktail, and I'm one hundred percent sure that it will carry you in a spanking new trip.

cheers.

Report this review (#577833)
Posted Tuesday, November 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Out of Africa...into my heart.

This could be the most exciting record of 2011, don't you think? The (almost perfect) blend of prog, metal and oriental music into a supersonic record blew my mind on the first listen. Yes, it's been a while since a metal prog album did that.

First things first: I've never heard something like that before. The Arabic singing both male and female, the great conga codas, the oriental melodies blended with (quite) heavy music is surprisingly original. Yes I use this word with parcimony. Originality scores big time with Tales of The Sand. We are submerged with the same old same old, and 2011 didn't skip it's turn. So rejoice people of the World, you'll have a great (underline great) time with this record, it's so entertaining you'll feel like dancing. I'm not joking, you actually can dance on Merciless Times!

If you like A.C.T and Muse's cross of short songs and catchy choruses with a punch around every corner, you have a winner. 100% growling-free, you'll be far away from the darkness and moodyness of regular metal. Myrath is not a 'despair' band, on the contrary!

When Myrath says dance you dance!

Report this review (#593882)
Posted Wednesday, December 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
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.

Report this review (#626541)
Posted Saturday, February 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Myrath play a style of prog metal inspired by Symphony X and mmmmaybe a little Dream Theater, but enrich this with influences from the music of their Tunisian homeland. Whereas some bands might slip in music from North Africa or the Middle East for flavour, Myrath are no tourists - these are musical traditions they know inside and out and they are able to truly integrate them into the structure of their songs rather than toss these cultural allusions in as an empty affectation. On top of that, their mastery of progressive metal is also laudable, throwing in just enough bombast to get their point across without getting tediously heavy-handed. On the whole, this is a mature album which will hopefully give a higher profile to this hard-working unit, though to be honest I find the prog metal influences they work in a little by-the-numbers and kind of hope that they will lean a bit more heavily on the other ingredients of their sound in future releases. In particular, if they can produce prog metal that is fully infused with traditional stylings, rather than simply existing alongside more traditional music, they'd have something amazing on their hands.
Report this review (#929755)
Posted Thursday, March 14, 2013 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars Now THIS is some seriously good Middle Eastern / Metal fusion. I can't think of a more successful hijacking of a sound, meaning they sound like the Symphony X of the Sahara with their seriously delicious brand of prog metal blended perfectly with the Middle Eastern rhythms, scales and harmonies of their native Tunisia. The songs are seriously catchy, original, entertaining, melodic and powerful.

This band is quite talented knowing just how to mix it up. They really have a knack for the prog metal element which puts newer long established acts to shame. Moments when they choose to drop the metal and just let the accompanying congas and female vocals shine in the light for a while are part of the compositional brilliance that this band delivers consistantly. Both guitar and keyboard solos are found that add virtuosic outbursts at times.

This album really adds to their already rich fusion formula. I really look forward to their hearing future releases. If they can shed the blatant Symphony X sound and find their own then this band will surely earn the crown of top prog metal act. 4.5 rounded up

Report this review (#1078405)
Posted Sunday, November 17, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars I came late "into the game" of appreciating Myrath. Sure, they admit they were influenced by Symphony X, but so what? IMO, they take that style of prog metal to the next level with their Middle-Eastern influences. Not to mention, their musicianship on this third album is par excellence. While the lead guitarist is compared to Romeo of Symphony X, he certainly brings in his own Tunisian / Middle-Eastern elements that Romeo would not have a clue about. Some might say this is less of a prog album than their first two. The same could be said of Kansas of 'Leftoverture.' And yet, we have such prog classics on Leftoverture as 'Miracles Out of Nowhere' and 'Magnum Opus.' I feel Myrath has given us their "Leftoverture" album - and it rocks, big time! The lead vocalist is in fine voice, as are all the instrumentalists (sorry, I live in P.R. China, and cannot always access Google-based Wikis). There was a time about a year-and-a-half-ago where I listened to this album every 2-3 days. In the last 4 months, I have only just now begun listening to it again, as it is a "classic" - in its own definition of that term. The first album was good; the second album was great (and worth owning), but this third album is a must for any who are into Symphony X, Dream Theater, or - for that matter - Kansas. Get it and get a new experience in prog metal!
Report this review (#1308048)
Posted Saturday, November 15, 2014 | Review Permalink

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