Gildan's Guide to Good Music: Myrath - Desert Call

Gildan's Guide to Good Music

The world of music is a vast ocean of crap - join me on a voyage to the tiny isolated islands of excellence.

As the tagline not so subtly suggests, it's really easy to find terrible music - you have but to turn on your radio, and lo, bad music abounds. The good stuff though, well that's rarely quite so easy to find, and while some popular music actually deserves the accolades it receives[1], most excellent music languishes in comparative obscurity. And that's where I come in!

If it's thought provoking, epic, eccentric, or exceptional (or possibly all of the above), I take it upon myself to write about it in the hope that at least one of the comparative handful of people who actually read my rambling and rampantly egotistical definitely quite humble reviews will find it useful[2] - or if not useful, at least momentarily entertaining; I take what I can get really.

Today I'm finally going to talk about a band I mentioned in passing back in my very first review, who have created one of this year's best albums that you've never heard of - I aim to correct that oversight.



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Myrath

Desert Call

Musical Genre: Oriental Metal, Symphonic Progressive Power Metal
Running Time: 72 minutes
# of Tracks: 11[3]
Particularly noteworthy songs: Madness, Silent Cries, Shockwave

Quick - name a Metal band from Tunisia! Okay, any band from Tunisia, that should make things easier, right? No? Of course everyone reading this with a decent grasp on deductive reasoning can now do just that, but the point of this little exercise was to illustrate that, assuming you aren't from Tunisia or say... me, you haven't heard of this band for a very good reason:

They're from Tunisia.

Tunisia is not, musically speaking, a place the world at large traditionally thinks about much (or at all). If the in no way conclusively verified by me claims I saw one fellow make during the course of 'researching'[4] this article are in fact something other than 'wildly unsubstantiated', then they're actually the first band from Tunisia to ever land themselves an international record contract.

So what is Myrath? They're basically Symphony X, if Symphony X were from Tunisia instead of New Jersey[5]. That was my assessment after listening to their first studio album Hope, which (along with Desert Call) was produced by Kevin Codfert, French progressive metal band Adagio's keyboardist and the reason that anyone outside of Tunisia has heard about Myrath; running into him at a rock festival in Tunisia was their "big break" into the only near-complete obscurity that prog-metal bands enjoy world-wide as a general rule[6]. As it turns out, (Wikipedia would have us believe that) Symphony X is their favorite band and they got their start playing covers of, among other things, Symphony X material, so my initial reaction was accurate in more ways than I originally thought.

For those of you completely unfamiliar with Symphony X or progressive power metal in general (who've ignored my obvious suggestion that they familiarize themselves via the link I helpfully provided, which points to a review of a Symphony X album from an unusual perspective), bands in this genre are basically operating in the "anything goes" arena of the weird and wonderful world of Prog, only in a more directed sense than pure form prog-metal - expect technical proficiency, multi-layered compositions, extended (and awesome) solos, key changes/tempo shifts/what have you, but with an emphasis on the core riff-based and (as a general rule) fairly fast-paced song structure. Rather than the sudden bizarre (but interesting) derailment of existing themes where a song completely changes gears for seemingly no reason other than "because we can" that one comes to expect from Progressive bands, this particular strain of Prog operates within the bounds of a more conventionally structured theme, offering an intricately nuanced performance of ultimately more approachable music.

What sets Myrath apart from other bands in their sub-genre, and the reason I like them so darn much, is their Oriental Metal approach to the medium - they incorporate Middle Eastern folk music, instruments, and vocal techniques into songs that would otherwise be relatively straightforward[7] numbers you could easily imagine bands from Europe or New Jersey performing, and the result is, if you share my interest in Middle Eastern folk music, equal parts bloody fascinating and flat-out awesome.

I call a lot of things awesome though, so it's worth pointing out that I would happily label this as '2010's best album that you've never heard of' in a heartbeat if I hadn't already proclaimed Orphaned Land's The Never Ending Way Of ORWarriOR as that back in my very first Guide to Good Music article - a pronouncement I still stand behind by the way - so Desert Call will have to settle for being one of the best albums that nobody seems to know exists. But don't take my word for it, give the tracks I've embedded below a listen:



If you liked what you heard, you may also enjoy their first studio album Hope as well - they've changed vocalists and brought the folk elements of their sound further to the forefront since then, but Hope was my initial introduction to the band and the album I'd been idly planning on featuring ever since I first mentioned them; I probably would have done so if I hadn't picked up a copy of Desert Call about a month ago and discovered just how bloody awesome it was (I may still do that eventually, I'm whimsical and capricious).

And with that, another entry in the guide to music that I think empirically know to be awesome and therefore "good" is concluded - join me and my mildly insane collection of alter egos next time for a fascinating journey into the high-stakes world of underground beetle racing! Or possibly another article about good music, that one's probably more likely really.

Other entries in Gildan's Guide to Good Music

Orphaned Land - The Never Ending Way Of ORwarriOR
Guilt Machine - On This Perfect Day
Ride The Sky - New Protection
Karmakanic - Who's The Boss In The Factory?
The Romanovs - ...And The Moon Was Hungry...
Penumbra - Seclusion
Within Temptation - The Heart Of Everything
Octavia Sperati - Grace Submerged
Virgin Black - Requiem - Mezzo Forte
Allen/Lande - The Battle
Devin Townsend Project - Addicted
Todesbonden - Sleep Now, Quiet Forest
Beyond Twilight - Section X
Katatonia - Night Is The New Day
After Forever - After Forever
The 69 Eyes - Back In Blood
Red Circuit - Homeland
Hurt - Vol. 1
Ayreon - The Human Equation
Nocturnal Rites - The 8th Sin
Witchbreed - Heretic Rapture
Arjen A. Lucassen's Star One - Victims Of The Modern Age
Agua de Annique - Pure Air
Joe Bonamassa - The Ballad of John Henry
Taal - Skymind

Want to be notified whenever I post a new Guide to Good Music article? Well now you can join the Guide to Good Music notification service group, and receive a notification whenever I post a new Guide to Good Music article! Huzzah.

[1] In which case it is certainly good music, but you don't really need me to tell you about it, now do you?
[2] Whether that's always the case is debatable, as these articles of mine generally don't receive a great deal of comments or views - but that's okay, since I write mainly to amuse myself. Feedback, while nice, is merely an optional extra.
[3] I have the North American version of this album, which comes with an 8-minute bonus track - the world-wide release has 10 tracks.
[4] Otherwise known as "finding a few details that resemble facts and running with them". And then I go get ice cream (whee!).
[5] It actually might surprise you how many excellent Prog bands hail from New Jersey. Seriously, if you play progressive metal and you're from the US you probably come from New Jersey.
[6] Considering you probably haven't heard of Adagio either, I think I've made my point quite neatly.
[7] For the sub-genre anyways, there isn't really anything particularly straightforward about Myrath's material when contrasted with more conventional genres.

nice work, man. Didnt know you did reviews. Unfortunately the costs on imports makes accessing this music in my are rather unlikely, and their relative obscurity makes less legal means of obtaining their music more difficult as well.... i probably wont be getting this stuff. Its good though.

As for the review...im tired. but it seems like you spent a more time talking about how great the music is than you did talking about the actual music itself. Maybe thats your style, i dont know. anyway, good work.

On another note, if you succeed in spreading the love for this band, will you still like them?
or are you one of those "they were good before they got famous/sold out" indie guys? (like my sister, basically)

Kimdeal:
nice work, man. Didnt know you did reviews.

Thanks!

Unfortunately the costs on imports makes accessing this music in my are rather unlikely, and their relative obscurity makes less legal means of obtaining their music more difficult as well.... i probably wont be getting this stuff. Its good though.

Yeah, shipping things to Australia is generally not the most affordable thing to do, though living here in the states doesn't tend to help much either when the album you're looking for was never released outside of Europe - I routinely see prices upwards of $40 for a single album when it's a European import.

Acquiring their material in a legal and affordable form might be easier than you think though, provided digital distribution is a channel you're willing to pursue - it's the reason I can afford to buy as much music as I do. Albums that were never released in physical format here that would otherwise cost me a bloody arm and a leg to import via Amazon will invariably be priced under $10 in mp3 format[1] (providing the material is available digitally, sometimes it isn't, boo); Desert Call for instance is listed at $8.99 from Amazon. I'm not sure how regional restrictions work on that or other websites exactly, but if the option is available it's certainly a cheaper and entirely legal means of acquisition.

As for the review...im tired. but it seems like you spent a more time talking about how great the music is than you did talking about the actual music itself. Maybe thats your style, i dont know. anyway, good work.

It is - "review" isn't really the best word for what I do given I call these ramblings of mine a "Guide to Good Music" - I've essentially spelled out what I think of anything I mention before you even start reading the body of the article (I think that it is good). The purpose is really more about education and generating interest rather than critical analysis (though the level of detail I go into varies from album to album depending on whimsy), as everyone already knows that I like everything I talk about or I wouldn't be talking about it at all, heh.

On another note, if you succeed in spreading the love for this band, will you still like them?
or are you one of those "they were good before they got famous/sold out" indie guys? (like my sister, basically)

Would I still like a band if they became a mainstream success? I put a line in that spoiler box containing facts about me that touches on that issue, but allow me to reiterate: Absol-fragging-lutely!

I like obscure music because that obscure music happens to be music I enjoy, not because it is obscure; obscurity itself has nothing to do with my personal enjoyment for any given artist/band/project, and I find the hipster mentality of only liking music if nobody else has heard of it and using your taste in music as ammunition in an elaborate pissing contest to be, quite frankly, rather stupid. I consequently find the stereotypical "indie" crowd to be annoying and baffling (though I enjoy a fair bit of indie artists, if not their fans).

Granted, I freely admit that I'm a snob, but the smug satisfaction I derive from my snobbery has less to do with what I do listen to than it does what all the material that I won't listen to, because it is crap. Which the majority of mainstream music tends to be - some of it is excellent though, and I don't view good bands in a dim light simply because everyone and their cousin has heard of them.

Obscurity has absolutely everything to do with whether or not I'll write an article about a band/album of course, as I'm writing for the purpose of changing that status ever so slightly; I would be overjoyed if all the bands I've written about went on to achieve enormous commercial success! Obviously that's not really going to happen, not least because I've penned articles examining albums from bands that don't strictly exist anymore, but if just one person finds a band they enjoy through my writing then I consider that a job well done.

Good bands aren't some precious resource to be hoarded away in secret lest exposure to the masses devalue it somehow - music is meant to be heard after all, and if said music is really good then it logically follows that more people listening to it is better than less. Achieving that end in some small way is therefore my self-appointed crusade.

[1] And even albums that are available locally in physical format will still cost less to purchase in mp3 format.

Gildan Bladeborn:

Acquiring their material in a legal and affordable form might be easier than you think though, provided digital distribution is a channel you're willing to pursue

yeah, at the moment i have a terrible internet plan. I've been told that many people in other countries haven't even heard the term "limited bandwidth", but i got a terrible case of it. I also dont have a job right now, so i'll probably add this one to The List and leave it for a while.

It is - "review" isn't really the best word for what I do given I call these ramblings of mine a "Guide to Good Music" - I've essentially spelled out what I think of anything I mention before you even start reading the body of the article (I think that it is good). The purpose is really more about education and generating interest rather than critical analysis (though the level of detail I go into varies from album to album depending on whimsy), as everyone already knows that I like everything I talk about or I wouldn't be talking about it at all, heh.

Fair enough. like i think i may have said, im not sure what your structure is, and what your trying to do.

stuff about indie-principle *snip*

yeah, i kinda think the same way. but i still get a cold shiver up my spine when i hear a song i like on the radio.

I heard about a study that, if i remember it correctly, is kinda relevent (cant be bothered finding a reference, but if you ask nicely, i should be able to track it down).

Basically, what it said is that people who have yet to form an opinion of an issue, will see the majority opinion as a favourable option.
On the other hand, people who HAVE formed an opinion, will see the majority opinion siding with the opposition as an argument in favour of their own, minority views. It becomes a source of pride for them, like they know something that all the other idiots are two blind-fucking-stupid to see.
I certainly feel that way about music, and even though i do my little bit to spread the love, I wonder how id feel if i was succesful. Losing that source of pride, that "knowing" feeling. I'm probably one of those counter culture loving pricks, though.

on another note, i notice you say "bloody" a lot. are you a migrant, or is that something which people say in america?
I was under the impression that it was pretty much just people in the commonwealth, but it may have bled over (HUR! HUR! HUR!)

Kimdeal:

on another note, i notice you say "bloody" a lot. are you a migrant, or is that something which people say in america?
I was under the impression that it was pretty much just people in the commonwealth, but it may have bled over (HUR! HUR! HUR!)

Ah, so it's finally happened. To answer: I'm not a immigrant, and "bloody" is not a commonly used expletive in the states either - I've just adopted it into my speech (and writing) patterns for some reason that I'm sure made sense to me at the time. These days it's an unconscious reflex rather than an affectation - I don't even really register that I've done it until I go back and re-read what I've just written. I've always sort of wondered if people find it odd that a fellow from the USA says bloody a lot, but this is the first time anyone has ever asked me about it.

Sort of makes me wonder if everyone else just assumes I'm an expatriate from my writing.

Most people probably just dont spend as much time thinking about speech patterns of others.

Wow, I'm really impressed with the obvious amount of effort and care you've put into this guide! I'm currently listening to the music, which is definitely obscure, but enjoyable. Gimme five more minutes, and I'll listen to the next song.

I looked at your previous list of recommended albums, and I was delighted to see Within Temptation!

Between the snobbery, and abundance of evidence and information you've organized (not to mention the humor) I do not hesitate to give all music you've suggested a thorough listen. I also look forward to more! :)

zombiesinc:
Wow, I'm really impressed with the obvious amount of effort and care you've put into this guide! I'm currently listening to the music, which is definitely obscure, but enjoyable. Gimme five more minutes, and I'll listen to the next song.

I looked at your previous list of recommended albums, and I was delighted to see Within Temptation!

Between the snobbery, and abundance of evidence and information you've organized (not to mention the humor) I do not hesitate to give all music you've suggested a thorough listen. I also look forward to more! :)

This entire response is the visual equivalent of music to my ears - happy to be of service!

I need to stop being too busy to remember to check for fresh guides or I might miss out on stuff like this.

I love Symphony X, ergo, I love this band.

It's rather uncanny how similar they sound, the song composition and instruments all sound exactly like something from Symphony X. The only thing they can't do completely is Russell Allen's godly vocals, but even then they have a great vocalist as is.

As usual I can't criticize the article itself as it is superbly written, keep the good stuff coming.

Scizophrenic Llama:
It's rather uncanny how similar they sound, the song composition and instruments all sound exactly like something from Symphony X. The only thing they can't do completely is Russell Allen's godly vocals, but even then they have a great vocalist as is.

The vocalist they had on their previous album Hope actually reminded me fairly strongly of Allen, specifically his gruffer delivery on Paradise Lost.

As usual I can't criticize the article itself as it is superbly written, keep the good stuff coming.

Will do! I've actually been thinking of writing about Ayreon's stellar The Human Equation next - right now I'm in the "formulating good turns of phrase while doing completely unrelated daily tasks" stage of the composition process.

Gildan Bladeborn:
Will do! I've actually been thinking of writing about Ayreon's stellar The Human Equation next - right now I'm in the "formulating good turns of phrase while doing completely unrelated daily tasks" stage of the composition process.

A great album, looking forward to that one. I'd imagine it would be good to mention that the new Star One album comes out on the 25th of this month as well.

All the music you review is really good. I really enjoy this stuff. Do you have a thingy that tells people when you release a new guide?

Good stuff, i think this bands "oriental" flair adds to their appeal. Because, in terms of both image and sound, it makes them stand out from the usual Western power/prog metal bands.

Icarion:
All the music you review is really good. I really enjoy this stuff. Do you have a thingy that tells people when you release a new guide?

A "thingie"? What do you mean by that exactly, a blog, RSS feed, something else, etc?

Well whatever it is you meant, I don't have one - I pretty much just post a new review and then hope interested parties see it; I also occasionally dangle links to them in front of potentially interested audiences in the hopes that they'll click through and then possibly leave a comment.

While there's no system in place to notify people when I create a new entry to my guide, if you or anyone else would like to receive such a notification I'd be happy to send you a PM whenever I post a new review - amounts to the same thing really.

Nickolai77:
Good stuff, i think this bands "oriental" flair adds to their appeal. Because, in terms of both image and sound, it makes them stand out from the usual Western power/prog metal bands.

My thinking exactly.

Gildan Bladeborn:

Icarion:
All the music you review is really good. I really enjoy this stuff. Do you have a thingy that tells people when you release a new guide?

A "thingie"? What do you mean by that exactly, a blog, RSS feed, something else, etc?

Well whatever it is you meant, I don't have one - I pretty much just post a new review and then hope interested parties see it; I also occasionally dangle links to them in front of potentially interested audiences in the hopes that they'll click through and then possibly leave a comment.

While there's no system in place to notify people when I create a new entry to my guide, if you or anyone else would like to receive such a notification I'd be happy to send you a PM whenever I post a new review - amounts to the same thing really.

Nickolai77:
Good stuff, i think this bands "oriental" flair adds to their appeal. Because, in terms of both image and sound, it makes them stand out from the usual Western power/prog metal bands.

My thinking exactly.

Yeah a PM would be nice if you wouldnt mind too much.

Gildan Bladeborn:
While there's no system in place to notify people when I create a new entry to my guide, if you or anyone else would like to receive such a notification I'd be happy to send you a PM whenever I post a new review - amounts to the same thing really.

What I think you should do, is make a user group. Make a new news post whenever you post a new one, that way, people will know that a new review is out.

It works well for me anyway. :)

Marter:

Gildan Bladeborn:
While there's no system in place to notify people when I create a new entry to my guide, if you or anyone else would like to receive such a notification I'd be happy to send you a PM whenever I post a new review - amounts to the same thing really.

What I think you should do, is make a user group. Make a new news post whenever you post a new one, that way, people will know that a new review is out.

It works well for me anyway. :)

That's actually a really good idea. And thus is born The Guide to Good Music notification service! I have to scarper off right now but I'll make sure to attach a link to my extant work so's interested parties who stumble upon it can easily find it. Thanks a bunch for the suggestion, I don't know why I didn't think of that, heh.

Oooo a User Group, very modern.

Not too great a fan of the music but... well you know my tastes well enough that I don't need to tell you that any more.

Stranger of Sorts:
Not too great a fan of the music but... well you know my tastes well enough that I don't need to tell you that any more.

True enough! I'll admit I am somewhat curious though just where Myrath slots into your personal hierarchy of "music you're not really a fan of and yet do not actively loathe with every fiber of your being" relative to where you've mentally filed away Symphony X, now that you've heard examples of both bands.

Gildan Bladeborn:

Stranger of Sorts:
Not too great a fan of the music but... well you know my tastes well enough that I don't need to tell you that any more.

True enough! I'll admit I am somewhat curious though just where Myrath slots into your personal hierarchy of "music you're not really a fan of and yet do not actively loathe with every fiber of your being" relative to where you've mentally filed away Symphony X, now that you've heard examples of both bands.

They're somewhere between Symphony X and Fear Factory in my mind. Closer to the former though.

Stranger of Sorts:

Gildan Bladeborn:

I am somewhat curious though just where Myrath slots into your personal hierarchy of "music you're not really a fan of and yet do not actively loathe with every fiber of your being" relative to where you've mentally filed away Symphony X, now that you've heard examples of both bands.

They're somewhere between Symphony X and Fear Factory in my mind. Closer to the former though.

Well that's good to know - now you just need to tell me where Ayreon fits into that hierarchy (or I'll have to keep nagging you until you do, ha ha!).

 

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