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The Sand Approves - 90%

GuntherTheUndying, September 26th, 2011

So, Tunisia is probably not the first place you think of when the overflowing planet of progressive metal lights up your hippocampus, but Myrath has been kicking obstacles and geographical biases square in the sack since 2006, and they've released a few records that gathered critical acclaim and even a sturdy fan base since coming to life. The band's unique postulate continues under its patriotic banner throughout "Tales of the Sands," a ten-song platter featuring an in-depth dive into Arabic progressive metal. Myrath structures an interesting plate of progressive metal that holds technical and mechanical elements one could compare to Symphony X at helm while blending an elegant spice of Middle Eastern instruments and melodies into the mythical ability of each member; it's not only well-composed, but ethereal and majestic as well.

"Tales of the Sands" imposes a stern balance between fundamental progressive metal rooted deeply in algebraic rhythms and a degree of technicality which shines with substantial similarities to Dream Theater and especially Symphony X (their main influence, and it shows) while incorporating a number of Arabic instruments and melodies at each turn of the sand's tide. The band weaves through a number of standard prog-inspired riffs that have hints of classic, old-school metal and little dabs of progressive rock in the vein of Rush, but keyboards and active percussion are incredibly prominent in their ideology as well; while not original or unusual, the chops are tight, efficient, and well-calculated considering Myrath's texture. One quality that sticks is the unpredictable change of tempos that this band undergoes. Each song moves at its own pace, with some demonstrating a mid-paced, chorus-based frontier, yet others bend and weave through an electric journey of hyper projections which flash Arabic melodies and touches at head-banging velocities.

But you know, the formula they use works wonderfully, as there’s never a dull track that refuses the Arabic zest or musical interiority. Zaher Zorgatti's vocals are aggressive, dramatic, compelling and divine, like Russell Allen if the Symphony X singer fell in love with Arabic influences and made his primary group change gears entirely. Zorgatti is a rare breed, however; he can hit godly notes, and his stability as a vocalist when applying high chimes could shatter the sound barrier. Surprisingly, there's a bonus track that some versions lack entitled "Apostrophe for a Legend." There aren't many differences stylistically speaking, but the overall instrumentally reigns supreme, and Zorgatti's finest performance also presents itself. I'm just wondering why this is an outtake!

The only item missing is an authentic, crunching epic that reaches beyond the ten-minute mark, only because Myrath has proven that they are a supplemental asset to the world of progressive metal, through both their instrumental precision and the striking nature of this album's prime compositions; they could forge a gigantic cut with sheer magnificence. Regardless of my little complaint, "Tales of the Sands" is a superb, top-notch display of Arabic themes gracefully jolting Myrath's otherworldly view of progressive metal with an aerial sense of craftsmanship and phenomenal prose. Few releases of this niche are both daring and creative, but Myrath has successfully drawn their line in the sand and forged a monstrous collection of high-caliber music, which is quite the daring feat, because now we know Tunisia means business, and it might become the world's capital of progressive metal if Myrath can continue this pristine manufacturing. Don't pass up on this.

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