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Myrath - Desert Call CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.82 | 139 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Desert Call' - Myrath (7/10)

Barring Antarctica and the Lovecraftian horrors that live there, Africa is the least prolific continent when in comes to heavy metal and progressive music. To most, this will come as an established fact rather than speculation; despite a wealth of culture, modern strife has kept Africa back from letting its voice out. There are exceptions however, as Myrath proudly indicates. Hailing from Tunisia, Myrath plays a polished style of progressive metal, in the style of Dream Theater and Symphony X. What sets Myrath apart- and thus makes them worthy of mention- is that they use sound of traditional Arabic music and fuse it into the metal sound. Similar in this respect to the more established Orphaned Land, Myrath has an exciting and epic sound, and 'Desert Call' will appeal to anyone looking for a progressive metal curveball.

Although metal is a community which often prides itself on being progressively-thinking and open-minded, too much metal gives the sense of deja vu; that it's already been done before, and will be done again. Ironically, progressive metal is a central offender for this, as it sometimes feels every band calling themselves 'prog metal' these days is either a Dream Theater clone, or a melodic hard rock group looking for an added edge in their marketing. Myrath fits the glove with the sound of current progressive metal, but they are made memorable by their defining trait; that is, there is a strong sound of Middle-Eastern music running in tandem with metal. Much like the bands Kamelot or Nightwish merge their metal elements with Western classical music, Myrath does the same with their own culture, and the outcome is impressive. Myrath are a very capable prog-power band regardless of the Middle-Eastern sounds, but without this new angle, I would not have such a vivid memory of them.

Importantly, 'Desert Call' does not use these traditional Arabic sounds as a gimmick, but beefs them up so that they're an integral part of the music and sound. Malek Ben Arbia's guitar playing is firmly rooted in the school of John Petrucci and Michael Romeo, but Zaher Zorguatti's vocals are keen to switch between acrobatic power metal wails and a signature Islamic holler, often within the course of a single vocal line. Seif Ouhibi's drums find the balance as well, at times delivering the powerful metal pummel, but also occasionally conjuring a beat that sounds like it could score a cinematic chase through Baghdad. The songwriting's greatest strength is their near-seamless ability to work the Middle-Eastern sounds into the music, but the more power metal-oriented aspects can exert a certain level of cheese. Many of these songs have memorable melodies and song structures, but I often felt that by the end of most tracks, I had heard a run-through of the chorus one, or two too many times. Bring into focus a lackluster sense of flow and possibly overdone length, and 'Desert Call' begins to lose its status as the 'metal revelation' it could have been.

Myrath's signature style was born with their debut 'Hope', and it continues to run strong in the blood of 'Desert Call'. Although the current trends of progressive metal are starting to die out, Myrath's ambitious pledge to bring the sounds of their home culture to metal gives a refreshing new perspective on a style that has rarely managed to hold my attention in recent years. Its cheesy power metal theatrics aside, 'Desert Call' is worth an easy recommendation.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |


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