Album of the Week 07-2016: Myrath – Legacy

Probably the most impressed I have ever been by an opening act was when I went to see Orphaned Land in 2011. The second band of the evening was this amazing Tunisian band called Myrath and I basically liked them as much as I liked Orphaned Land. I bought ‘Desert Call’ and ‘Tales Of The Sands’ immediately and have loved the band ever since. It’s been four and a half years since the latter came out, but there finally is a worthy follow-up to that brilliant record. ‘Legacy’ – the English translation of their name – is a fantastic work of Orientally tinged Metal.

Style-wise, Myrath is located somewhere right in the middle of the grey area between Power Metal and progressive Metal, of which the respective border patrols are Kamelot and Symphony-X. What makes the band so unique though are the overtones of Ma’luf music. The beautiful Arabic string arrangements and – to a lesser extent – percussion are very much indebted to that form of traditional Tunisian music. And because ‘Legacy’ is highly melodic – even moreso than Myrath’s past efforts – there’s quite some room for those amazing string arrangements alongside the riffy Power/Prog and brilliant, larger than life choruses.

The increased melodicism doesn’t mean there’s no room for the heavy riff work normally associated with Progmetal; ‘The Unburnt’ and ‘The Needle’ could easily compete with any Prog giant -and win! – but Myrath obviously knows their strengths and makes sure they allow enough room for them. They know that their impeccable melodies don’t need a busy, claustrophobic bottom and when you have an unbelievable singer like Zaher Zorgati – who sounds like the Arabic cousin of Mats Levén and Roy Khan – you need to give him the freedom to excel. Each musician is extremely proficient at their instrument, they have just chosen to not let that get in the way of their amazing songwriting.

Opening track ‘Believer’ was the first track to surface and it represents the album quite well; it’s upbeat, the riffs and strings are in perfect balance and the chorus is huge and infectious. Typical for Myrath is the positive, hopeful vibe that most of the songs have. The powerful ‘Through Your Eyes’ and the delightfully dynamic ‘Get Your Freedom Back’ are perfect examples. Having said that, the latter half of the album does contain a few songs that have a darker vibe, the best of which are the moving ‘Duat’, the melancholic and passionate ‘Nobody’s Lives’ (with a beautiful chorus in Arabic) and the excellent bonus track ‘Other Side’.

While progressive Metal is stuck in a state where it isn’t all that progressive anymore – aping Dream Theater is not progressive – it’s always good to hear a band with a fresh take on the genre. I’ll admit: my weak spot for Arabic melodies does influence my opinion a little, but it’s a fact that Myrath consists of five amazing musicians who know how to write a great song. ‘Legacy’ is their third masterpiece – out of four, and debut album ‘Hope’ was quite good as well – and it should be heard by anyone. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be off to Zoetermeer to see them open for Symphony X tonight!

Recommended tracks: ‘Through Your Eyes’, ‘Get Your Freedom Back’, ‘Nobody’s Lives’, ‘Duat’

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