Oriental-infused progressive metal band Myrath are set to release their brand new album Shehili on 3rd May, via EarMusic. Ahead of the release of the album, we spoke to Zaher from the band about the album, their influences and how they create their expansive, progressive sound.
"Believer" is the first of a three part story from Myrath. Check out the video here:
So, you're getting ready to release your new album Shehilli, what can fans expect from it and how close is the end result to what you originally set out to achieve? Zaher: "First of all, thanks very much for this interview. It took us almost one year to compose Shehili as we wanted to offer something fresh, something nobody did before. We experimented a lot in the past with our previous albums but I think it's the first time I am 100% happy with the result. Believe me, we composed a lot of songs, we also deleted a lot of tracks which were not perfect to our ears. The main goal of the album was to succeed in blending lot of influences like rock, metal, fusion, Andalusian, Berber, Djent, prog, alternative. So we ended with a new music genre named Blazing Desert Metal. Our fans will still recognise Myrath's music of course, but we added lot of new flavors to the music."
Your sound is described as progressive oriental metal, what is it about that region that inspires you musically? Zaher: "Myrath is doing "Blazing Desert Metal" we do a mix of many things, and it's definitely beyond our Tunisian influences. We are of course Tunisian, so Andalusian and Berber music are in our blood but our influences are the music we listen to, which can be Berber, Extreme Metal and even Salsa!"
The video for your last single "Dance" is delivered almost like a story, is there a theme running through the new album that would see this carried on through future releases? Zaher: ""Dance" is the second episode of our last trilogy ("Believer" – "Dance" – "No Holding Back"). For a long time now we wanted to propose something new in term of image and there is something which is definitively missing in metal music videos : stories. We love stories, we love to create emotions with stories through our music, through our lyrics and also our video clips."
"Talking about the "Dance" video, it's a tribute to a Syrian dancer who was threatened with death by ISIS. He tattooed "Dance or Die" on his neck. It's such a touching story. If you listen to the lyrics you can find a duality between the depth of the meaning and the happiness we putted into the music. "Dance with me dance" means "Fight with me fight", fight against all the injustices in the world."
Check out Myrath's video for "Dance" here:
Given that you've been around for over 18 years, how do you feel your sound has changed and, when you started, did you have a vision for what the band should sound like? Zaher: "18 years is almost nothing. Imagine, we started the band we were 13 years old. We had a lot of time to experiment lot of things. We even started as a cover band. Regarding our sound, of course it changed. The more you play live, the more you understand what people like, so unconsciously there is a strong impact on our music. We never had a clear vision for what the band should sound like. The first rule is to think “out of the box”, starting composing a song without any guide, just experimenting and see if it's good or not. When it's good we keep it, when it's not we delete it, as simple as that."
You've toured with bands like Dream Theater and Symphony X bands who are both at the top of the genre, what do you learn from working alongside bands of that level? Zaher: "We learned a lot. Especially all the tricks around music business and how to be professional on stage. You know, when you come from Tunisia, where there is no platform for metal music (and music in general), you don't know anything about how the music industry works and how to be professional on stage. So we learned everything by touring a lot with those bands."
You've had a number of line-up changes throughout the years, what criteria do you have for musicians within Myrath? Zaher: "A musician within Myrath must understand that Myrath is working like a family (before talking about music). It's so difficult to achieve targets coming from a country like Tunisia that we must be sure that every member is fully dedicated to the band. That's the most important thing. The Myrath family is extended to all the people working with us. Also, musicians must be of course able to play some technical parts and good at stage performance."
Myrath's new album Shehili is out on May 3 through EarMUSIC
The recording of the album is described as organic, how challenging is that to do given how expansive and complex your sound is? Zaher: "First of all, the key is to record with real instruments. Regarding the violins, we worked with the national Tunisian orchestra. Every instrument as percs, darbokas, clarinettes, violins etc. are real. That's the minimum to make it organic, we used just few samples for choirs. Also, we had the chance to record real drums in a real big drum room (Chameleon Studio – Hamburg) so it was not necessary to use any drum samples.
You worked with three different producers on the album, what was the thought process behind that? Zaher: "Kevin Codfert, our producer within the beginning is the one who compose with us and put everything together to have a ready to mix product. Kevin worked with Eike Freese and Jens Bogren (2 famous producers) to be sure that each song is unique in term of sound. 3 producers, 1 vision. It has been non-stop working, Kevin recording guitars in France, sending tracks to Eike, Eike to send tracks to Tunisia to record the violins etc. Thanks internet!"
Similarly, you recorded the album is four different locations, again what was the reasoning behind that? Zaher: "Each instrument need a different environment to be record. Also, each location cost a different price so, for example, renting Chameleon studio for something other than Drums makes no sense. Today, thanks to good sound cards and numeric environments, you can record guitars and bass without a lot of gear. Later you can rent a bigger studio for the reamping (to add this organic sound of a real amp). Regarding the violins, we needed a violinist from Tunisia (who can handle quarter tones and all the Berber influences), so we needed to fly back to Tunisia to record that.
The album is out in May, you've got a few dates lined up, what are your plans for the rest of 2019? Zaher: "We are actually working on several tours to promote Shehili and are very exciting to meet all our fans around the globe."
Thanks for your time, anything else you want to say to finish off? Zaher: "We are very excited about our fans and new fans reactions regarding Shehili. Promotion of the album is huge, thanks to EarMusic and Verycords, and we are sure this album will make the difference within the metal market. Thanks very much and stay Blazing Desert Metal!"
Check out the video for "No Holding Back", the final part of the trilogy: