Sound — 9
Myrath, to me, is about as unlikely a band you're ever going to find. Hailing from Tunisia they blend traditional Tunisian folk music with progressive metal through technical playing reminiscent of Symphony X, extremely catchy refrains almost reminiscent of schlager music and atmospheric movie/videogame scores with oriental orchestration. And to the surprise of some, myself included, it works really well.
And though if you've stumbled across the bands first album from 2007 "Hope," you'd be forgiven for assuming that it was an unusually orientally spiced Symphony X album the world forgot, the band has since evolved into something more than the cover band it began as. The band's self-branding as "Prince of Persia-metal" fits the bill perfectly, with oriental drums and orchestras accompanying the one of the most epic video game score you've ever heard.
The group consists of guitar virituoso Malek Ben Arbia, percussionist Morgan Berthet, singer and flirter Zaher Zorgati, 6 string bass-player Anis Jouini and keyboard mastermind Elyes Bouchoucha. The last "invisible member" (who's hardly that invisible) is Kevin Codfert who is perhaps best known for his role as the keyboardist for Adagio, but who has been involved with all of Myrath's albums either as a producer and/or co-composer. And as usual when he is involved, the production is sleek and modern sounding and leaves little to complain about. Worth mentioning is also that the album is dedicated to Ahmed Ben Arabia, who in the physical albums booklet is referred to as "Myrath's Godfather."
Lyrics — 8
The vocals on this album are in my opinion excellent. Zorgatis voice is the kind that could have fitted just as well in a sappy boy band as in an Iron Maiden cover band and luckily he has the power and capacity to do both, without really becoming too much of one of the other. As far as lyrics go the general theme of the album is fighting for freedom. One would think the recent events concerning the Arab spring has had more than a little to do with the concept, and it makes the album feel relevant and like it is a product of its time. Sometimes the concept takes more direct routes, such as in the track "Get Your Freedom Back." Other times the group uses metaphors, one of the most fun ones being the track "The Unburnt" which is an obvious nod to the "Game of Thrones" character Daenerys Targaryen. The most heartfelt of all songs has to be "I Want to Die," which is about the loss or separation of a loved one. "The Needle" is a song which deals with drug abuse among the young in the face of hopelessness. All in all there's enough lyrical variation to stave off becoming too repetitive.
The lyrics are good in general, though there are a few forgivable grammatical errors and mispronunciations. The message of the album is clear and the poetic touch remains intact. On an additional note the album notes credits Perez Fuentes, H. Habib and Aymen Jaouadi as contributors of lyrics.
Overall Impression — 9
In conclusion I have mostly positive things to say about this effort. It could well be the best album the band has put out to date. Like the album before it ("Tales of the Sand") it focuses on shorter songs that are more to the point without losing too much of that virtuoso and progressive touch that adds to the sounds identity. Its catchiness has me coming back to it and the quality of the song writing in general and the orchestration in particular is good enough for it to not go stale with multiple listens. To me, it may well be the album of 2016 that went under most people's radar that ought to have been given a chance, though that is strictly a matter of musical opinion. As far as song recommendations go I recommend the catchy first single "Believer" which features an entertaining and uplifting video intentionally reminiscent of Prince of Persia. The most musical offering on the album is to my ears "The Needle," which has a more hardhitting metal approach with a military feel, the funky bass solo 2 minutes into "Get Your Freedom Back" is also a personal highlight.