Myrath - Karma

Artist: Myrath

Album Title: Karma

Label: earMUSIC

Date of Release: 8 March 2024

Somewhat unbelievably, this is the very first time I have ventured a review of a Myrath album. I’ve been aware of the Tunisian metal band for a number of years as friends and acquaintances have sung their praises since they released their debut, ‘Hope’ in 2007. But, for some reason, I never really checked them out too closely. And when I did have a listen, my cursory toe-dip into their music didn’t resonate strongly enough to persuade me to delve in further. I have no real idea why, because normally I fawn all over melodic progressive metal; it’s one of my absolute favourites. But, whatever the reason, that’s the situation in which I find myself.

When it came to this new album, ‘Karma’, things didn’t start off too well, either. Firstly, the release date kept changing, and apparently the album was leaked early. This is never a good thing, because rumours tend to start – is the album rubbish? Is it ever going to be released? Then, when I politely enquired of the record label whether I could access an advance promo for review, I was met with stoney silence. Not a dickie bird. Nothing. Not even a ‘thanks, but no thanks’ rebuff. So, it means that I had to wait for the much-delayed release to finally take a first proper listen to this ‘Karma’, the sixth album of Myrath’s career.

With the delay to this review fully explained, I can now get on with the important task of discussing Myrath the band, and the music that they deliver on this brand-new offering.

Once again, though, first impressions were mixed, and certainly not at the effusive end of the scale that I’d seen from comments all over social media. As always, I steered clear of as many reviews as possible whilst I got to grips with the eleven songs that feature on ‘Karma’. I think my first comment was ‘is it possible to both love and hate an album at the same time?’, or words to that effect at least. Without any doubt whatsoever, the music hit me right out of the gates as an immediate shot of melodic ear candy, with soaring choruses, giant hooks, and an energy that could not be faulted in any way. But, by the same token, I couldn’t help but think that the songs veered too close to melodic syrup, with a lack of progressive intent and heaviness. Everything felt slick and polished, but the music lacked bite, and anything approaching complexity; not a problem for a melodic hard rock band, but a definite issue for a progressive metal band.

That was then, though, and this is now. I shelved ‘Karma’ for a day or two, whilst focusing on other albums for review. When I returned perhaps 48 hours later, the impact was different and where cynicism and lack of interest once prevailed, now stood respect, enjoyment, and in my hand, a slice of humble pie.

The ‘progressive’ tag, as I have since realised, has been on a steady decline over recent albums. It hasn’t disappeared entirely, but it has certainly become less of a focal point for Myrath. This knowledge helped me, as did the sheer power and infectiousness of the music that I have found cannot be escaped. Without even realising it, the first few spins had sowed the seeds and when I returned to the album, it was the sprinkling of water that then allowed those seeds to fully germinate.

Myrath - Karma

It’s worth noting that, as it turns out, there is not a weak song anywhere on ‘Karma’, with each offering something that long-term devotees and newbies like me alike will enjoy. However, I wanted to pick out a few favourites upon which to focus. And the favourites begin with the opener, ‘To The Stars’, because it’s an up-tempo, feel-good track with an increasingly powerful chorus. But more than that, you get those authentic Eastern melodies that even I know all about with Myrath. Plus the synth orchestration courtesy of Kévin Codfert is rich and bold without getting in the way of the more metallic elements of the song, which include guitar and keyboard solos, pounding rhythms, and the incredibly smooth, yet slightly gritty vocals of Zaher Zorgati, joined later by layered choral vocals that bring a little of that stadium sing-along magic. What I wasn’t expecting was the castanet and bass outro, but it’s a nice touch to end a rousing start to the record, and highlights just how good and integral a member of the band bassist Anis Jouini truly is.

Even better is the immediate follow-up, ‘Into The Light’, which kicks off with a bombastic orchestrated section that’s pure anthemic power. I love the riffs that are delivered by Malek Ben Arbia, but the whole band comes together to create a song that is just…massive. Addictive, powerful, memorable, it has everything, and I often play it back-to-back when the mood takes me. There’s even space for a pause in the power, to allow the synths and some tinkling piano notes to take centre stage. In the immediate aftermath, we get some fantastic drum fills courtesy of Morgan Berthet before we’re carried on the crest of a wave to the songs conclusion, complete with the ubiquitous key change for added effect.

‘Let It Go’ is pure melodic hard rock-meets-AOR territory, but with Myrath’s sprinkling of magic, including some wonderful throbbing bass lines, cheeky guitar embellishments, and hooks that cannot fail to get wedged into your brain whether you’d want them to or not. The first verse to ‘Words Are Failing’ could have been something from the latest teen pop heartthrob, but such is Zorgati’s vocal performance and the bruising guitar/bass sounds in the chorus, it all just works, especially with those authentic melodies interwoven into the composition, almost effortlessly.

The chorus of ‘Wheel Of Time’ is utterly brilliant, but it is more so thanks to the way that it juxtaposes a funkier, more ‘proggy’ verse or two, complete with cool riffs, slap bass, and interesting rhythms. Possibly my favourite track on the album is ‘The Empire’, though, because of the atmospheric drama from the outset, the more overt progressive feel to the track, but mostly because of the absolutely killer chorus. It’s expansive, grandiose, and melodic, whilst also featuring measured double-pedal drumming to reinforce its overall power.

The album also ends on a really strong note thanks to ‘Carry On’. There’s no hint of Myrath resting on their laurels or running out of steam, as it features some of the heaviest, most bruising material on ‘Karma’ both from the guitars and the drums. But it doesn’t ever sacrifice the melodic trappings that are so important to the Myrath sound; indeed, the lurching, lumbering aspect of it only serves to enhance the melodies and the irresistible chorus, crowned by Zaher Zorgati’s final imperious vocal performance on the album.

Having been a little cynical and dismissive of it to begin with, I am so very glad that I have seen the light and have finally been pulled under the Myrath spell. ‘Karma’ is an incredibly consistent and strong record from a group of assured, confident musicians that have a clear focus on what they want to create musically. And, on the strength of ‘Karma’, it’s heavy metal with heart, with a strong sense of enjoyment and memorability, and with an even stronger desire to remain authentic and true to their heritage. We’re lucky to have a band like this in our lives, so I’m going to plunder their back catalogue immediately, to see what I’ve largely missed up until now.  

The Score of Much Metal: 93%



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