Friday, October 28, 2011

Myrath "Tales of The Sand" Review


     This is the sound of the sand transcribed into the language of metal. As soon as the first track starts and you hear the melancholic singing of a woman; the synths come and and finally the guitars transport you to a world of traditional power metal combined with Arabian atmosphere. When the rest of the album wraps around you like a dust storm in the desert you are hooked. This album is fun, it's progressive and it's simply good. Take the music of Symphony X or Kamelot, change the theme and you get Myrath's Tales of The Sand.

     Myrath is a progressive power metal band from Magreb, a region located in north Africa to the northwest of Egypt. The band was formed in 2001 under the name Xtasy when the founder and lead guitarist, Malek Ben Arbia, was only 13 years old. They honed their skills by playing Death and Symphony X covers for years before they finally released their debut album “Hope” under the name Myrath in September of 2007. The music that they play is a blend of traditional power metal in the vein of Symphony X embodied in Arabian atmosphere.

     The songs are sung by Zeher in a mixture of Arabic and English, adding a lot of diversity to the vocal delivery. Zeher himself has a really wide range, able to caress the highest notes with ease and using his accent to add another layer of Arabian atmosphere. The subject matter is a mix of myth and legend; there are songs about pirates, love, anger, and self-loathing. The song “Merciless Times” is about self-loathing and waiting too long to accomplish what you want to do in life. It's also the first single and one of the strongest tracks on the album along with “Sour Sigh” “Wide Shut” and “Beyond The Stars.” If your looking for a track to listen to before making a purchasing decision I would choose “Wide Shut” as I think it shows most of what makes the band so special.

     The best aspects of the album are the way that they integrate traditional Arabic oriental sounds with modern power metal riffs; the sparingly but excellent use of synth's and strings; and the lead singers varied and beautiful vocals. These three aspects really work together in concert to create what makes this band so unique and special. There are other bands based around similar material such as Ophaned Land, but Myrath take the sound in a much different direction. Preferring fun and fantasy to the Elegance that Orphand Land provides.

     The only fault that I can really provide is that at times things get a bit too traditional and they lose their grip on what makes them really stand out. It doesn't happen often enough to really become much of a bother but it's still worth mentioning. There are also moments, particulary on the final song “Time to Grow,” that veer dangerously close the Bon-Jovi like metal of groups like Solution 45. Other than those few minor complaints I cannot find much else to fualt. Every song has something unique and interesting and while it might not push the genre forward the band does a great job intigrating their influences and Arabian sound.  

Monday, July 18, 2011

Obsidian Kingdom 3:11

Obsidian Kingdoms 3:11 is all about atmosphere. Each of the songs evokes it's own creepy little world where bass guitars and pounding drums hide in our closets and under our beds, ready to leap out and pounce on unsuspecting metal heads with their own brand of thematic progressive blackened metal. That is a lot of descriptors all at once. A better and easier description would be that it takes the heavy atmosphere of doom metal acts similar to Daylight Dies and injects some progressive and death metal elements. They are not doing anything particularly new, but it doesn't matter. What is here is loud, creepy, epic, and a perfect reminder of things to come from this band in the future.

The best parts about the album are when all of the different elements actually combine together using some type of black magic that instills in them a power that can be hard to describe. The drums pick up, the guitars are screeching, the vocalist is screaming, and there you were bobbing your head and thinking that this was all going a different direction. It's terrifying and at times a very beautiful thing.

The album is not trying to be a constant massacre however, it's all about art and atmosphere; which, as I have praised an incredible amount by now, is the bands greatest strength. There are times when all you can hear is the drums mimicking a heartbeat while the guitar gently weeps in the background or when they all come together in a suffocating mix that you just cannot seem to get away from.

All of the lyrics revolve around events of which this character that they are narrating for seems to have little chance of escape. The first song “Prey” is pretty self explanitory. There is something chasing you, it wants you, but you cannot get away no matter how hard you try. “Maze,” my favorite of the three, seems to be about a person that cannot escape himself, lose in a maze of self loathing and resentment. He doesn't know who he is or what he wants. “Solitude” seems to continue on from Maze in some way and is about this person that willing lives inside of himself. He doesn't know how to escape but he wants to escape this solitude that he has place himself in.

“I’m trapped inside
With my thoughts behind glass walls
I can only hear
The sound of my own voice
Why did I sow
the dark seeds of solitude?
I never want
To harvest its strange flowers”

The lyrics themselves are very well done, I love the Lovecraftian and Allen Poe imagery that is all over the place on every song. They are full of objective meaning and imagery that people will be able to relate to in different ways. They are always about loss and loneliness, the things that people do to themselves to hurt themselves and the situations that we place ourselves in.

I cannot express enough how much I enjoyed this EP. I cannot help but listen to over and over. The songs are paced nearly perfect with proper buildup in all of the right places. The vocalist does both singing and screaming although I honestly prefer the screaming because his accent is sometimes laughable but he's not terrible. I'm sure that in time he will gather a better singing voice that will be able to fit right along with the atmosphere.

Although this album is not perfect, it's close enough that I feel comfortable giving it as high a praise as I can and telling you guys that you must download this as soon as possible. It's free on their band camp page, just like their original release. So there is no excuse if your into black or doom