Myrath - Shehili

Myrath Shehili cover
Myrath the undisputed princes of the desert lands and all things eastern when it comes to metal, return once again with “Shehili”, the mad wind, filling their sails. Dismissed by a few as kebab metal (?!?), but embraced by way more as the harbingers of change in the rather stagnant modern metal scene, Myrath offer their unique mix of metal that sounds like an eclectic mix of Conception, Kamelot and Symphony X, with a more than generous dose of eastern musical elements, making the result quite unique, but familiar enough at the same time.
I remember that around January of last year I was discussing this album with their keyboard player Elyes and he mentioned that it would feel like a more intricate “Legacy”, maybe a bit more polished in places, even a bit radio friendly here or there, but not substantially different…
But let’s check out the album in its entirety….
“Asl” is an intro, with lyrics in Arabic that unfortunately are not translated on the booklet as on some previous editions, but overall acts as a tension builder for the true opener “Born to Survive”, which begins with some pretty wild vocal improvs and continues with a massively heavy riff that feels like a thousand boulders landing at once with quite a thumb. This song about perseverance is typical Myrath fare, but really comes together when the chorus comes around.
“You’ve Lost Yourself” begins with some tuberlek percussion and quickly escalates with massive drums and riff, like its predecessor and grooves wildly like a twisted eastern cousin of Kamelot (in their 10’s output) with a short but heavy solo, allowing the song to mix up things a bit. It’s all about betrayal and losing faith in others.
“Dance” is the equivalent of “Believer”. The lead of single, heavy on the string front and everything else really, with a very elaborate and beautiful solo, but always remaining as radio friendly, as a rock song could be. It’s an interesting tune about a Syrian dancer who’s threatened into stopping dancing as it’s considered “scandalous” and “improper” by zealots, but chooses to continue dancing even among the ruins and the graves. Its message is one of hope, even through struggle and that is just great.
“Wicked Dice” is more dramatic, and rhythmical not a million miles away from “Endure the Silence”, but not too similar either, just think that it creates a similar mode, even if it’s way heavier and groovier than that song.
Talking about groove, “Monster in My Closet” begins with a huge sweeping one… and this is probably the album where Myrath has totally conquered and mastered how to mix super bass heavy parts without marring the mix, not that they ever had bad production, far from it, but this is them at their most polished, discernible and unconditionally heavy! Ohh, how I wish “Tales...” had this production; lyrically I think it must be about vampyrism? If not, it’s about deep and overbearing desires that have a similar effect, but I think there’s an allusion to it being blood-lust.
“Lili Twil” is a daring experiment, as the band covers this popular Younès Mégri megri song, about feeling homesick (it roughly translates to “My Night is Long”), while adding an extra verse in English that tries to lessen that sentiment. It’s as melodic, but way heavier than the original and it’s definitely interesting. Fun fact, it was sampled by German disco kings Boney M on “Children of Paradise”.
I found “No Holding Back” a little odd, when it released on its own as a single/video clip. It’s got this rather impressive sweep of orchestration that’s very cinematic (someone keep Luca Turilli at a safe distance of barely functioning projectors please – inside joke) and is a lovely song overall, but it makes a lot more sense in the flow of the album, than it does on its own, as it’s grandiose style is somewhat toned down.
“Stardust” initially sounds timid and melodic, but as it doubles down on its chorus; it goes into almost Broadway-like territory, a very dramatic and impressive chorus that recalls some of the best efforts by some of the biggest prog bands in existence.
“Mersal” begins with some rather impressive orchestration and is a quite remarkable duet between Lotfi Bouchnak (a highly regarded classic tenor, probably the most celebrated in the Arab/Middle Eastern and North African territories) and obviously Myrath’s own Zaher Zorgati. Think “Nobody Lives”… but proggier and that beautiful clarinet solo, it features might be a wager, but the band really wins by its inclusion.
“Darkness Arise” could have been the most, should one say, straightforward – if such a thing exists in Myrath’s universe – metal song of the album, until the band decides to throw in the kitchen sink an organ and whatever else seemed like a good idea at the time. They still not manage to screw the song up, but it becomes a little bit unnecessarily complicated… but not to the point that it becomes a deal breaker…
Last but not least, “Shehili” is another song about feeling homesick, where a traveler pleads that the wind will guide him towards home, without him losing his way. It’s really lyrical and it especially shines during the chorus…
With “Shehili”, Myrath manages to pretty much equal “Legacy”, which is the album that broke them to a much larger audience, than their previous three ever did. This is the album where they have really managed to perfect their sound and graduate their style to its highest form to this point. It’s nearly damn perfect! My only valid concern is that this might be difficult to best, without aping the style and becoming a little imprisoned by what they have created, very much like Kamelot. But until the next album comes around, brothers and sisters lets headband and (belly) dance (not at the same time, hopefully) without a care in the world if someone’s looking!