Tales Of The Sands
Those lucky few who’ve read my reviews on this site, may already know that I have a soft spot for the middle ground between power, progressive and symphonic metal. Earlier this very fine musical year I gave Serenity’s and Sons Of Seasons’ newest forthcomings a glowing review, and I’m about to extend the same courtesy to Myrath’s latest and brightest “Tales Of The Sands”. That is, as soon as I have changed from my belly-dancer’s outfit to my reviewing clothes (read: pajamas).
Before I continue carving a sculpture for these monuments of progressive metal, can I just say it’s weird to describe a band as “Eastern” when their actual country of origin, Tunisia, is geographically speaking north of the European village I live in? An observation you didn’t care about, but one that I had to get off my chest. Deep breaths, everyone. Anyway, a lot of bands may experiment with Eastern folk influences, but usually that’s what they are: influences. Myrath hails from the sweeping sands of the desert and they sweat their heritage from every pore, effortlessly and naturally combining it with their Symphony X-flavored type of progressive power metal. This time around there are more Arabic sections than on predecessor “Desert Call”, and even though it makes singing along a near impossible and incomprehensible task, they add that little extra touch of ethnicity that I admire so much in these noble nomads.
While “Desert Call” had a few longer compositions and a generally more languid (but not boring) atmosphere, relying on complex song structures and brief bursts of melodic genius, “Tales Of The Sand” has gone the newfound Pagan’s Mind route, choosing to focus on short but powerful songs that lose none of the intricacy and delicacy of previous outings. Nowhere is this more clear than in the first stretch of the album, where the almost hypnotic “Under Siege” segues nicely into the salty swagger of “Braving The Seas” and the melancholy of “Merciless Times”; all rivaling the splendor of Serenity’s “Death & Legacy”. The title track seems more concerned with the magic and mysticism of the literary tales of the sand, bathing in an aroma of mystery among the dunes. That concludes the most epic part of the album, and the rest of the record is more concerned with themes of introspection not unlike Evergrey in their heyday. Yet there is still a lot of wonder to behold, not in the least with the one-two punch of the record’s closers. The entrancing “Beyond The Stars” makes your blood pump with its pulsating rhythms and sets your limbs in motion in an almost uncontrollable fashion. It takes considerable willpower to refrain from dancing around like the serpentine subject of a snake charmer to this music, and what other metal band can say that? The swan song of the album, “Time To Grow”, takes a more straightforward power metal route, with an uplifting chorus to show you out in style.
September will be remembered in the annals of musical history as the month where there was more progressive metal than you could shake Mike Mangini’s drumstick at, and Myrath is among the finest of the fine. Unique, daring, and self-aware; they’re the Tunisian revolution of the progressive metal scene. And yes, there’s a very clever political joke in there. Hey, it was either that or something about the camel on the album cover.
Arno Callens' rating: 4.25 out of 5