posted on 5/2010 By:
From the distant shores of Tunisia comes the country's first major metal act, Myrath. Desert Call, the band's sophomore release, is thickly layered with various tribal instruments, which enrich the album with distinct Tunisian flavor and add to its density. Tunisia is best known musically for malouf, a genre comprised of violins, drums, sitars and flutes. Although middle eastern influences make Myrath's overall sound similar to that of Orphaned Land's, its song structure is quite different. Well-placed local instruments combine with progressively constructed songs to make Desert Call an enjoyable listen.
The album's opener blasts off into a groove similar to that of Opeth's Ghost Reveries, but with Arabic drums and keyboards immediately prevalent. Guitarist and founding member Malek Ben Arbia's overall composition is sound and is a sign of his recent graduation from the Music Academy International in France. Solos such as the one in "Forever and a Day" give off somewhat of an Adagio feel, which is fitting given that Kevin Codfert (Adagio) produced Myrath's first full-length, Hope. Perhaps the most striking aspect of Desert Call is that the album maintains a continuously heavy sound using nothing but clean vocals. The vocal melodies of both Zaher Zorgatti and Elyes Bouchoucha are beautifully carried by the rest of the instruments like the sweeping sands in the winds of a desert storm. Myrath also does an excellent job at mixing cultural elements into their songs, while still maintaining a fair degree of accessibility throughout the entire album. Many distinct instruments are used simultaneously without making it exhausting to listen to, such as in Ayreon's The Human Equation, which varies so greatly that piecing all of the instruments together into something cohesive can become a headache. In the album's main epic "Silent Cries," Desert Call begins to sound slightly monotonous, but it's instantly saved by a wonderful solo, which marks a distinct turning point in the album.
Much of the energy in the first half of Desert Call is transferred from faster-paced tempos to much longer guitar solos, melodic sing-a-longs, and a slower pacing. The album eventually picks up speed, but loses the substantive groove which dominates Desert Call's first four songs. The remaining songs are more similar to the progressive power metal style best demonstrated by Symphony X, whom Ben Arbia lists as his biggest influence. In "Iconic Destiny" and "No Turning Back," Myrath's originality unfortunately begins to fade altogether. Although the cultural uniqueness does not disappear entirely from their songs, the Myrath of the first six songs is a bit different than that of the final four. The decreased sense of originality is somewhat disappointing, but is only to be expected given that Myrath is a relatively young band comprised of metal pioneers, who will undoubtedly gain more confidence with the recording of each future album.
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