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A progressive metal outfit from Tunisia, Myrath honor their regional heritage by incorporating Arabic and Middle Eastern instrumentation into a heady mix of power metal and cinematic prog rock. They are the first band from Tunisia ever to be signed to a label outside the country. Before releasing their internationally acclaimed debut Hope, they spent five years developing a lineup and sound that led them through hard rock, blues, and even a stint as a Symphony X cover band. 2010's Desert Call offered a plethora of sounds brought forth by regional folk instruments. It gave metal fans their first real taste of the band's developing sonic footprint, appended by strings and orchestrations that carried epically intricate melodies combined with coarser, more propulsive metal tenets. They cemented their approach with 2011's Tales of the Sands. In addition to winning fans, the recording endeared the band to international tour promoters and media outlets. After touring for years, the band issued Legacy and went right back on the road; they released only singles over the next couple of years. In 2019, the studio album Shehili put them on the world's metal charts. Based in the coastal city of Ezzahra, Myrath was originally called X-Tazy, founded in 2001 by 13-year-old guitarist Malek Ben Arbia as a blues and hard rock outfit. Using their progressive muscle, they began writing originals and making festival appearances. In 2005, the USB flash drive-issued demo Double Face was circulated outside Tunisia by the metal press and won acceptance by European critics for their sonic and textural approaches. Two years later, after becoming the first Tunisian to sign a European label deal (with France's Bremmis Music), Myrath released their official debut album, Hope, as a quartet comprising Ben Arbia, drummer Saif Louhibi, keyboardist/vocalist Elyes Bouchoucha, and bassist Anis Jouini. Produced by Adagio keyboardist Kévin Codfert, the work found its way out of Tunisia and into the ears of the international metal press, who found their complex musical aesthetic refreshing and exotic due to the band's inclusion of Arabic and North African folk instrumentation. Myrath played across Europe as an opening act on package tours and headlined their own club shows. They released their sophomore effort, Desert Call, in 2010 for the French XIII Bis Records. It introduced new frontman Zaher Zorgati. With his ability to glide seamlessly between acrobatic power metal wails and prayerful Islamic chants -- often within the course of a single vocal line -- he filled in the missing piece in the band's sonic architecture. Their polished, progressive, and infectiously melodic style was compared favorably to both Dream Theater and Symphony X. While they supported the set with a brief tour, Myrath went right back into the studio. Working once more with Codfert, their occidental/progressive metal fusion was expanded by the mixing skills of Frederik Nordstrom and the mastering of Jens Bogren or 2011's Tales of the Sands with new drummer Morgan Berthet. Reviews were not only favorable, they were effusive. Myrath further blurred the line between hooky, melodic prog metal, power metal, some thrash, and a sometimes near-classical embrace of Arabic music with a string trio and the guest backing and duet vocals of Visions of Atlantis frontwoman Clémentine Delauney. The reception across Europe Central and East Asia, and into North America and Brazil was great. They literally spent years on the road, opening tours for Dream Theater, H.I.M., W.A.S.P., and Tarja Turunen across Dubai, India, Europe, and North Africa. The band also made their first live appearance on U.S. soil at ProgPower USA, in 2013, and headlined ProgPower Europe in Netherlands. Myrath secured a much-coveted slot on Symphony X's Underworld tour in early 2016, and wrote and rehearsed new material on the road. Signing to Verycords in Europe, the band entered the studio with Codfert later that year and recorded Legacy. They had solicited lyrics from Tunisian poets and songwriters, and their producer -- who also arranged and recorded the set -- also hired a string section, a folk trio, and a backing choir, all mixed expertly by Bogren. Despite the expansive instrumentation and ambitious production, Legacy proved to their most accessible and popular album to date. Myrath began their own global headlining tour in addition to playing with others on festival dates. They played virtually every major metal and prog rock festival over the next three years; their only output was the 2018 compilation Merciless Times and a couple of singles. In 2019, the band issued their fifth album, Shehili, to showcase their shiny new international deal with earMUSIC. During their absence, fans speculated on internet forums about how far Myrath could possibly take their original sound, built as it was from centuries-apart musical traditions. With Codfert helming the entire session as producer, arranger, engineer, recordist, and mixer, the music on Shehili was more ambitious than ever before. They hired more than a dozen guests including chamber strings, choirs, and both Western and Middle Eastern woodwinds. But Shehili proved the band's most hooky and accessible outing, registering on digital metal charts on virtually every continent. Given the years of touring, Myrath independently released a live video from a concert in Sweden, and later an impeccably recorded Live in Carthage CD/DVD package. A year after that, Live in Carthage was issued as a standalone audio outing.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo
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