Myrath – Live in Carthage (Album Review)

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There are ways to put on a live concert recording.  And then there are WAYS to put on a live concert recording.

Myrath has done the latter.

“Live in Carthage” was at least a couple of years in the planning, starting when the band played at the ancient Roman Amphitheater in its home country of Tunisia.  The acoustics were great, the near-hometown crowd was out of its mind and the vibe was incredible.  This was the place. 2019 was the time.

And the band went all out for the recorded show. Background screens flashed various pictures and videos. A couple of belly dancers did their stuff across the stage (all this is on the DVD of the show).  The crowd responded, shouting along and waving hands back and forth – just what Myrath wanted, and just what they deserved.

For they put on a remarkable show. Most of the set-list came from the two most recent studio albums, “Legacy” (2016) and “Shehili” (2019). Those happen to be their most accessible recordings, less desert metal and more symphonic or arena rock. But the Middle Eastern flourishes that set this group apart are still front and center, mostly due to the orchestral keyboard work of Elyes Bouchoucha and vocal gymnastics of Zaher Zorgati.  Their work on songs – singles, really – like “Dance” and “Believer” just kill.

But then, this is a killer band. Bassist Anis Jouini and drummer Morgan Berthet provide a real punch to the rhythms without losing the swirling, whirling nature of the Tunisian sound. And then there’s guitarist Malek Ben Arbia, the only original member when what was then X-Tazy got together in 2001 – and he was just 13. He’s grown into a powerhouse, an artist who can shred and blast with the best of them but also blend into the sandstorm wall of sound that is Myrath. His musical sensibilities have helped craft the band in so many ways.

Still, while this is a Middle Eastern band with a sound to match, the music is something pretty much anybody from anywhere can get into – it is very anthemic, punch your fist in the air stuff.  And lyrics (in English) to songs like “Storm of Lies” and “Endure the Silence” have universal appeal.  “Born to Survive” says:

“…I stumbled on the way
You’ve rattled all my faith
Now I am whole again
I turn the page today…”

“Live In Carthage” CD/DVD Artwork

There’s one other element that takes “Live at Carthage” from being just another concert album.  The lead track… is not live. Or in Carthage. It is a remake of their song “Believer” featuring Deep Purple keyboardist Don Airey. Hey, if the man happens to be just down the hall in another studio and seems familiar with your music, you might as well ask him to join in, right?  “Believer” is one of the best known Myrath songs, but it takes on a different character with Airey’s organ front and center.  The guitars are pushed back in the mix, and while regular keyboardist Bouchoucha is still there, providing a backdrop of exotic orchestral textures, this is Airey’s turn to shine. Imagine Purple going Middle Eastern and you’ve got the basic idea. It really is an excellent twist.

So, no, I’m not going to hit every track and evaluate it.  The 17 cuts are all high quality in writing, performance and production.  If you haven’t experienced Myrath – pronounced MEE-rath – before, this is a great place to start, even if it’s not a true career sampler. “Live in Carthage” shows a mature band at the height of its powers, using its signature sound in familiar surroundings to drive the live audience to new heights, then to feed off of that with a resulting outstanding performance. Just what a live recording should be about. The planning paid off.

Released By: EarMusic
Release Date: April 17th, 2020
Genre: Desert Metal / Symphonic

Musicians:

  • Malek Ben Arbia / Guitar 
  • Elyes Bouchoucha / Keyboards, backing vocals
  • Anis Jouini /Bass guitar
  • Zaher Zorgati /Lead vocals
  • Morgan Berthet / Drums

“Live In Carthage” track-listing

  1. Believer (Feat. Don Airey)*
  2. Asl
  3. Born To Survive
  4. Storm Of Lies
  5. Dance
  6. Wide Shut
  7. Merciless Times
  8. Get Your Freedom Back
  9. Endure The Silence
  10. Nobody’s Lives
  11. Duat
  12. The Unburnt
  13. Sour Sigh
  14. Tales Of The Sands
  15. Madness **
  16. Believer
  17. No Holding Back
  18. Drum Solo **
  19. Beyond The Stars
  20. Outro **BONUS:

Making-Of**
 
*Only on CD
**Only on DVD

8.7 Excellent

“Live in Carthage” is a wonderful introduction to a mature band at the height of its powers. Myrath has a unique sound, melding metal and symphonic and Middle Eastern in a powerful whole that is compelling and engaging. This is anthemic music that crosses international borders to have a universal appeal

  • Songwriting 8.8
  • Musicianship 8.8
  • Originality 9
  • Production 8.2
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