Myrath - Tales of the Sands
Label: XIII Bis Records
Reviewer: Ghanem Belgacem - 2012-09-04
Highlights: Most of the tracks
Under the burning leaden sky of the Grand Erg Oriental, there nestled an obsolete obelisk-like cloistered haven, slumbering at the heart of a gravel-cloaked rug-covered dust bowl. Within a half mile radius away to the north-east, stood the loyal companion of a hauntingly beautiful Phoenician woman, perching high through the dead branches of a sleeping winged elm tree and sheathed with all the gears that once defined an era that evanesced between the acute crusts of the Atlas Mountains. An artwork worth a thousand words welcomes you as you scythe your way into the depths of Myrath’s third proud album…"Tales of the Sands".
Progressive is like River Lethe; once you run out of ideas and begin staggering on the verge of mediocrity, everybody forgets you ever existed. And with the ghosts of Dream Theater, Opeth and Symphony X prowling the scene for new buds to shear, it becomes patently obvious that shining within seems beyond the bounds of possibility. One must say that Myrath’s twigs have merely blossomed into a dazzling cluster but they have still a long way to go before conquering the seven seas. Still, you have to give them some credit for being quite impressive for a band hailing from a country with a relatively modest metal background.
Before going any further, I would like to point out that if you happen to be into progressive metal (or even power for that matter), stop reading and go get Tales of the Sands, for it’s a must for you. It’s utterly graced with all the ingredients that progressive fans have always yearned to hear but with a special “twist” ingrained into it. We’ll talk about that twist later, for now let’s get back to unveiling those ingredients. Offering a strangely sapid scent by surreptitiously grazing on power metal’s thickly distorted riffs and elegant drumming while at the same time being swathed within troughs of galloping shredding and towering atmospheric keyboard rambling, this album has everything to bleach your consciousness colorless and tether your senses to knots. And now after nearly eleven years of existence, it’s indisputably clear Myrath have succeeded into bringing their own sound into the equation through the wraiths of Adagio, Dream Theater and mainly Symphony X. But that’s not what makes Myrath quite different from others.
In fact, many have succeeded in forging a sound similar to the aforementioned bands but only a handful were lucky enough to stand out above the rest by grafting their inner seed unto the sound. That’s exactly what Myrath did. That’s exactly the special “twist” that makes Tales of the Sands more than just a plain stark progressive album.
Imagine if there was a sea where metal’s demolishing ruggedness, Phoenicia’s faded culture, Andalusia’s folk, Levant’s classical and Carthage’s pentatonic music coalesced into one shatterproof hedgehog. Imagine if the far west could team up with the far east to blend the most abhorred genre of music in the Arab world with the most cherished genre of music in the Arab world. No need to imagine, you have Myrath who have passed the test with flying colors to show you how it’s done. Now the question is, have Myrath succeeded in keeping the required heaviness alive while hurling oriental gusts of wind in your face?
Unfortunately, their moments of brilliance in Tales of the Sands don’t linger enough for you to be thrown off your chair. For about 70 percent of the album, the band struggle to maintain the progressive/power draft and plunge instead into glossy glamorous innocent metal. The middle-eastern parts serve for the most part as a foggy shroud to cover up the band’s failure to dwindle the scattered bloated vapid guitars and the poppy, dare I say it, aura therein. The production, having been reined by Adagio’s Kevin Codfert and mixed by Fredrik Nordström, sounds quite decent though.
Tales of the Sands deserves at least a spin from every metalhead around the globe. It may not have what it takes to give you the urge to listen to it again but it definitely bodes bright future for this band. Prog/power fans this is your new bible. The rest, give it a listen you might like it.