(2011) Myrath – Tales of the Sands: Anniversary Special

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At the beginning of the previous decade, Tunisian metal band MYRATH was highly appreciated on the progressive metal scene because of two excellent albums, “Desert Call” (2010) and “Tales of the Sands” (2011). Nowadays, every metalhead knows the band thanks to breakthrough album “Legacy” (2016) and the follow-up “Shehili” (2019). Even if the style has become more accessible over the last two albums, it is “Tales of the Sands” that showcased MYRATH’s potential for combining fascinating oriental melodies with heaviness and aggression. Years later, “Tales of the Sands,” which was released on September 27th, 2011, is still considered to be one of the best albums to grace the (progressive) metal scene.

 Although “Tales of the Sands” is not a classic album in the sense of yielding many singles and having wild success, it is still an important record because it established MYARTH as a serious player that could potentially have lasting influences on the metal scene (especially in their home country of Tunisia). It also displayed the beauty of Arabian melodies and how these Middle Eastern influences can be incorporated into metal music without feeling out of place. And while it lacks the grand orchestral flourishes of “Legacy” and “Shehili,” “Tales of the Sands” still impresses listeners with its straightforward metal approach and Arabic lyrics sprinkled here and there for maximum effect. With that being said, MYRATH was (and is) not the only band to have such gorgeous folky melodies entwined in their music. Nonetheless, it is probably the only one that has such an authentic feel because the band members actually grew up in this culture, and powerhouse vocalist Zaher Zorgati can do those Arabic chants like none other. Israel’s ORPHANED LAND is a close second in this respect.

In between Zaher Zorgati’s commanding vocals, Malek Ben Arbia’s majestic guitar work, and Anis Jouini’s pounding bass lines, the album is a beautiful blend of oriental progressive metal. However, Elyes Bouchoucha’s masterful arrangements and keyboards soften some of the rougher parts of the music, while Kevin Codfert’s crisp production value makes the album feel vibrant and incredibly nuanced. Songs like “Wide Shut,” “Merciless Times,” “Sour Sigh,” “Tales of the Sands,” and “Beyond the Stars” are still staples in their live setlist, for good reason. If the first few listed showcase their affinity for powerful melodies and relentless heaviness, the latter two present MYRATH’s own twist as they boast Arabic lyrics and a wonderful, enchanting atmosphere.

That doesn’t mean that the rest of the songs can be discarded in any way. Opening track “Under Siege” sets the tone with ominous vocalizations courtesy of Clémentine Delauney (VISIONS OF ATLANTIS) and thunderous drums, while “Braving the Seas” leans more towards traditional heavy metal. After “Merciless Times” and “Tales of the Sands” transport the listeners into one of Scheherazade’s tales, “Sour Sigh,” “Dawn Within,” and “Requiem for a Goodbye” wake them up with energetic guitars and candid lyrics about wars and survival. The bonus track, “Apostrophe for a Legend,” is worth mentioning as it is an ode to the late Ronnie James Dio and his everlasting legacy – the reason why the track has a certain heavy metal/AOR vibe to it and features a very versatile vocal delivery from Zaher Zorgati.

To sum it up, “Tales of the Sands” is a splendid collection of Arabic themes with a sharp progressive metal edge. The album’s main merit is that it showcased not just MYRATH’s unique identity but also Zaher Zorgati’s vocal potential and the band members’ wonderful craftsmanship and incredible technical skill. One may even argue that “Tales of the Sands” is the cornerstone of oriental metal. Boasting a balanced mixture of rich sounds, excellent songwriting, and awesome execution, it is fair to say that this is not your ordinary power metal album with gimmicky folk tunes but an album of the highest caliber in every regard coming from an upper-tier metal act.  

Written by Andrea Crow

Tracklist

1. Under Siege
2. Braving The Seas
3. Merciless Times
4. Tales of the Sands
5. Sour Sigh
6. Dawn Within
7. Wide Shut
8. Requiem for a Goodbye
9. Beyond the Stars
10. Time to Grow

Line-up

Malek Ben Arbia – guitar
Zaher Zorgati – lead vocals
Elyes Bouchoucha – keyboards
Anis Jouini – bass
Piwee Desfray– drums

Label

XIII Bis Records

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