|Genre||Progressive Metal (Eastern Folk)|
|Release Date||3 May 2019|
Venture, weary traveler, to the musical oasis of Myrath. Let its winds blow over you and move you. Let its dynamic and life-giving compositions induce in you feelings of hope and joy. Let every note fill you with wonderful amazement.
Ok, enough of that fantastical bullshit.
Let me first start by saying that this album kicks more ass than the Sahara on a bad day. This should really come as no surprise, though, because Myrath’s albums routinely contain nothing but quality, emotion, and a tasty Arabic spice. Huge melodies continuously take the stage and are supported by a dangerously tight rhythm section. The strings and orchestrations carry epic and mysterious melodies and combine seamlessly with the coarser metal elements, which makes each song ring with a rich brilliance. Plus, to add to the richness, the mixing is done flawlessly and allows each of the many parts to be appreciated.
There’s not a huge amount of variety in the album for a band that labels itself as prog but, under the banner of power or folk metal, there’s definitely enough. Fortunately, no track in Shehili sounds too much like another and the entire record is very exciting to listen to, so variety is a nonissue anyway. The overall tone of the album is hopeful, positive, and mystical. There are a couple tracks that carry a darker shadow with them, such as ‘Wicked Dice’ and ‘Monster in my Closet’, but other than some more intense riffage and aggressive delivery, they’re not dark songs. Despite any differences, there is one constant in every single song (unless, of course, you’re soulless), and that is the incessant drive it gives you to get up and dance.
Now, all this means almost nothing without a great group to deliver it. Luckily, and obviously, this is a truly gifted set of musicians, so there’s not the least bit of concern in that department. Malek Ben Arbia‘s guitar skills, from his Dream Theatery riffs in ‘Darkness Arise’ to his ripping solo in ‘Dance’, are those of a master. Frontman Zaher Zorgati has a ludicrous amount of vocal proficiency, especially with his soaring ululation, and can deliver a powerful belt whenever he damn well pleases. Additionally, as mentioned above, the keyboards (courtesy of Elyes Bouchoucha) cover everything from driving melodies to fat chords to complete the outfit with an overflowing sound.
When all is said and done, Myrath achieves exactly what it sets out to do with Shehili, which is, in Zaher’s words, “. . .to induce happiness and joy, to pay tribute to those who refuse to fall or to stop hoping, even in a world filled with hatred and uncertainty.” And, they do so with wonderfully detailed songs and a vibrant execution. The rhythm section is on the ball all the time, the vocals are awe-inspiring, and every other perfectly-mixed piece adds a unique and necessary flavour to make Shehili an exceptional work of music.
(Bonus points for the snake explosion and super triangular keyboard of fucking destruction)
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