As kismet would have it, the fourth album by Tunisian progressive folk metal band MYRATH actually translates the band’s name into English, thus making a sort of multi-lingual eponymous album title. Clever. It’s been five long years that the band has been hiding in Aladdin’s lamp only hinting of releasing their album but here in 2016 they have at long last after years of gaining recognition as the world’s most sought after melodic progressive Middle Eastern metal band that they let the genie out of the bottle and the ensuing puff of smoke has had time to permeate the eardrums of rabid hungry fans worldwide.
Personally i have been one of those eager hungry fans as i have a huge appetite for all sorts of world ethnic music with Middle Eastern types such as bellydance, raï and klezmer leading the pack. Accompany these attributes with some metal guitar turned up to eleven with raucous guitar distortion, sizzling solos and frenetic percussion and you got me hooked. The first three albums by MYRATH are amazingly catchy and i find them to be recurring listens in my world. MYRATH has had the unsavory duty of being a spokesband of sort to represent an entire culture within a fairly Euro-centric style of rock genre, namely heavy metal which despite the universe it has spawned still has some rather rigid limitations on any newbies on the block coveting a fast pass into the club. Well, MYRATH more than proved themselves on their first two albums channeling their inner Symphony X and ushering an arranged marriage with the ethnic musical wonders of their North African environs, a comparison that they have successfully shed.
While LEGACY adheres to the stylistic fusionfest of previous releases, there has been a major shift in direction on this album. While the first two albums were much more into progressive metal territory, the band began to tame things down a bit on “Tales Of The Sands” creating a more lushly symphonic metal production and LEGACY not only follows in the footsteps of the previous album but takes these ideals even further. The progressive tendencies have been put on a leash, the symphonic touches have been given magic elixirs as to elevate themselves higher than the pyramids in neighboring Egypt. The production has been given the proper steroids to make every little violin lick dance like a coiling serpent on sand dunes around the seemingly alternative metal scaffolding of the song structures.
After my initial spin i was totally disappointed in this album for this went in a most commercial direction and into territory that i’m not biggest fan of. After quite a few listens now i have come around somewhat. MYRATH first and foremost are masters of melodic developments and in that department they do not let me down in the slightest. If taken for what it is and not compared to previous albums this is a really decent mix of Arabic folk songs dancing on a little doumbek a the local hafla where a metal band just happened to join the party. Once again MYRATH do indeed seamlessly meld the two worlds into a cohesive whole however this time around the metal aspects are sedated while the folk elements are highly symphonically embellished.
After all is said and done and a plethora of listens to bring me to some sort of conclusion i can only finally assert that this is my least favorite MYRATH album yet i find this very seductive like a mirage of a sand castle on a camel ride through the Sahara. There is no doubt that the musicianship and vocal performances by Zaher Zorgatti are of the utmost quality. The production is off-the-hook beautifully perfect and the symphonic elements are not in the least bit cheesy. The aggressive timbres flow into the subdued symphonics like magic and the river of melodic riptides expand into streams of musical developments like myriad minnows at the mouth of the Nile, however despite all the effort in the technical prowess on display here i just find there is too much emphasis on the ballads and crossover appeal. MYRATH is going for gold with this one hoping to expand their Tunisian tentacles into an ever expanding fan base. While that’s all fine and dandy, there seems to be lacking a balance between these kinds of tracks and those of the past that really pack a punch. While i can’t really say i dislike this album as it has really grown on me, i, at the same time, feel the album is missing some key elements that links it to their more energetic and passionate past. Definitely an album worth hearing but it gives me a sinking feeling that if they go any further down this direction they may just drop the metal aspects altogether and become good beach music for shish kabob parties in Malibu.
Also, i don’t know if it’s just my copy or a universal trait in the album release but my brand new copy has the most embarrassing period of silence between the percussive sounding opener “Jasmin” and the first full track “Believer.” Not only does it have a period of silence but has a scratching sound like the master recordings were damaged. The two tracks are obviously supposed to seamlessly blend together like a magic desert spell that unleashes your inner genies to grant you wishes of musical bliss for the hour long charm called LEGACY. It doesn’t really effect my overall impression but a huge blemish on an otherwise almost perfect production. A somewhat pleasing album but i expected more.