Myrath – “Shehili”

Myrath – “Shehili” (earMUSIC)
Battle Helm Rating
Prepare for the ‘blazing desert metal’ of Myrath on “Shehili” which is actually an ancient word for ‘hot wind from the south’! Indeed, if you’re wondering what’s with all the exotic and mystical, then its worth bearing in mind that Myrath are from the North African shores of Tunisia, a country coming of age with its own fledgling metal scene, of which Myrath are its biggest band. To be frank, these guys have done remarkably well, releasing 4 full length albums, touring with Dream Theatre, HIM, W.A.S.P., Tarja Turunen around the world (including Dubai, India, Europe, North Africa) including playing ProgPower USA and Europe festivals since their formation in 2006. With slots at this year’s Sweden Rock Festival and Wacken Open Air, Myrath have now decided to roll the dice big time on “Shehili”, with less emphasis on the prog and power metal, but instead heading towards a catchy commercial sound also blending in classic rock, symphonic metal, djent, and most of all, their own musical roots of andalusian and berber music – which is very much in their blood! Furthermore, the band have made a conscious decision to err from metal’s aggressive and dark stereotypes, instead bringing happiness, joy and hope especially to those who are struggling for exactly that. It’s certainly no slogan given they’ve backed it big time here on “Shehili”, taking almost a year to compose, recording in France, Germany, Tunisia with the National Tunisian Orchestra, and with 3 different producers, including Kevin Codfert, Eike Freese and world famous Jens Bogren to create an absolute stunner! Not withstanding the commercial moan from some, the stellar musicianship and what has turned out to be a winning east-meets-west formula has created a gem in “Shehili” going well beyond the usual oriental aspects employed by western bands to a full blown hybrid that actually works. From the magic of ‘Dance’ with its exotic but equally dramatic orchestrals, Zaher Zorgati’s passionate vocals and Malek Ben Arbia’s dazzling guitar work, the north african rhythms and melodies are not just addictive, but offer a daring challenge to anyone to resist, although the true underlying story dedicated to a Syrian dancer threatened by ISIS should not be forgotten amid the joy. Less propulsive but more epic is ‘Mersal’, sung impressively in Arabic and English, and driven by the stupendous strings of the National Tunisian Orchestra, as well as employing traditional instruments to add to the authenticity of the highly catchy but equally deep and soulful music that is no less lacking in its western influences bringing to mind Kamelot. Ending it all is the title track ‘Shehili’ with its overpowering strings and full on symphonic bombast melded with melodic overload as alluring pipes and tablas provide instant rhythmic catch, heartfelt joy and yes, an uplifting hope that the world isn’t – or needn’t be – the place that we necessarily have to see.
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