If you listen to heavy music with an eastern/oriental flavor, you must surely be familiar with Myrath in name if nothing else. Formed in 2001, this Tunisian band is known for powerful vocals and a strong oriental influence in their music and lyrics.
I don’t recall how I came across Myrath personally, but “Believer” has been on my “current favorites” playlist pretty much since it came out. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, with only one song really ever having been on my radar, but I liked that song enough to get excited about the next album.
On my first listen-through, I put the album on while doing some chores. It was a good sign that, as I was listening, I kept coming to the computer to check what this or that song was because it had caught my attention for some reason. The first round’s stand-outs were: “You’ve Lost Yourself” for its powerful emotional chorus and really good energy – it wasn’t so speedy that it lost its message; “Dance” caught my eye with its very (appropriately) danceable melodies, even if the chorus is a little on the weak side; “Monster in My Closet” was rather rock’n’roll mixed in with all that eastern folk influence; “Lili Twil” was perhaps the biggest stand-out with its epic rock bells and absolutely awesome power – it’s like Manowar-level epic but without the ridiculousness; “Stardust” is the notably slowest song on the album, teasing itself to be a ballad but actually amping up the dynamics in the end.
After the first impressions were over, I really started to get into it. First off, am I the only one who thinks that Zaher Zorgati has a bit of a Jorn Lande thing going on in his voice? The quality heavy metal singing style mixed with the oriental influence is as good as it gets in this band and Zorgati might just be one of the most interesting vocalists in the metal scene these days.
I like how understandable the vocals are as well. As much as I love a growler, it’s so easy to learn these songs and start singing along with them. I also have a suspicion that Shehili will be worth listening to properly – as in, reading the lyrics, as I was again lamenting the fact that promos don’t include them.
And the music itself… there’s really a lot on there. It’s got the heavy metal – you know, guitars and bass and drums, but then the oriental influence is ever-present to varying degrees. And of course there’s all the pianos and orchestrations. I love an album that packs a punch without getting overwhelming, and this is one of them. None of the songs clock at over 5 minutes in length, which keeps the overall pace of the album upbeat and ends on a positive note with the title track. Even after many listens, the songs that stand out are different each time, and I suspect it’ll take some time to absorb the album completely. I look forward to each and every further listen from here on out.
I’ve seen this band classified as an oriental progressive metal band, and while I see why it might be considered prog because of its plethora of diverse influences, these songs tend to just feel purely like oriental heavy metal to me (and I mean that as a compliment). Shehili is complex without feeling wanky or overwhelming as many albums that aim this high tend to be. As such, I could see fans of prog and those who are skeptical of prog both being able to enjoy this album. If I have one complaint it’s that the vocals could’ve just been cranked up another notch – bring in even more of those gorgeous eastern vocal stylings like in “Believer”! It wasn’t bad, but I just wanted more of it.
On the whole, I really enjoyed it, and while I only had time to give it a few listens, I want to give it a minimum score of 9, but admit that score might change once I’ve let the songs sink in a bit longer.
Rating: 9/10, 4.5 stars
1. Asl (intro)
2. Born to Survive
3. You’ve Lost Yourself
5. Wicked Dice
6. Monster in My Closet
7. Lili Twil
8. No Holding Back
11. Darkness Arise