Myrath is a tunisian metal band, but they prefer to be defined as “blazing desert metal”, and that description fits perfectly with their unique, passionate, fusion sound. Today, 3rd of May, their fifth album, Shehili, is released. We had to chance to listen to it and review it (here), being anticipated by Dance and No Holding Back singles, both having a cinematic videoclip.
We reached Zaher Zorgati, Myrath’s talented singer and leader, for a chat about Shehili and about its personality as a singer and musician.
Hi Zaher! how are you?
I’m fine, you also pronounced my name correctly!
So, how do you feel about Shehili release? are you excited?
I’m, and also a little bit anxious, because I can’t foresee people and fans reactions, but I’m confident too, so I have a lot of contradtictive feelings.
I had the chance to list to Shehili and in my opinion it is a wonderful album, a true bomb, ’cause it has some truly catchy melodies melodies, but it’s also quite complex so I think that it will be a success.
I hope this too!
So, can you say that Shehili is your most mature album, a sort of point 0 album? And then, following to it, a whole new carreer for Myrath is upcoming?
So far, we’ve released five albums. And, as I say to my band, this is not our fifth album, this is our first one. This is not a sprint, this is a true marathon! Because it’s the beginning of the real career of Myrath, since we’ve signed for earMUSIC, a big major in Europe and in the world. A major dealing with Hollywood Vampires, Alice Cooper, Deep Purple…and us, Myrath. So, now we have this chance, after fifteen years of hard work and sacrifice. This label, that will work with and for us, helping Myrath to grow bigger and bigger. Because they’re really confident toward us, they trust as, first as people and then as musicians.
So, you don’t regret to have signed with a major. Some people do.
Definitely not. We had this huge opportunity and we don’t want to waste it. We could have signed for some big metal label, but we didn’t. This wasnt’ a question of money, it has never been. It’s a questione of being comfortable. They know what is the best for Myrath, since they followed us since two years, and they truly believe in us. I’m confident that there will be more albums to come with them.
So, let’s talk about the first single, Dance. Where did the idea of the magical lands come from? Is it a reference to Tales of Arabian Nights (a card table game)?
Yes, actually the initial inspiration came from it! But, the trilogy which is composed by the whole of the tree videoclups, is a metaphor of the issues of our world, the continuous fight between light and dark, good and evil. Also, we wanted to be very theatrical, mystic, cinematic: we wanted to translate what is happening in this world through our imagination.
I’ve read in another interview that Dance is about a belly dancer who was taken captive by ISIS. Why did you choose such a powerful story?
Because her story is a resistance story. Because she’s a symbol of fight against the evil, a symbol of freedom: we wanted to convey this in a very personal way, which is defined by the belly dancer, but that person could be anyone. When we say “Dance with me, dance”, we’re talking to everyone. Instead of say “fight with me, fight”, we chose to bid people to dance against the evil, for the freedom, against this stream of wickedness spreading throughout the world and so on. Dance for yours and other people’s joy.
So Shehili is a very positive album, conveying powerful messages. Isn’t it?
Yes, there are some very personal songs which are expressing the inner world of everyone of us, but in a very positive way. We don’t want to complain about anything, and even if there are some sad stories, at the end, there will be always hope.
You mentioned that there are some very personal song in Shehili, so I would like to ask you about A Monster in The Closet. Whose is the monster?
It’s about a personal issue. Everyone has a monster hunting for you, it’s a battle between yourself and something that it’s totally different for you. And, again, it can suit to everything. It may symbolize your battle with some sort of stress, or against drug addiction, or against your past.
And where is the hope?
Because in the end you can always defeat that monster.
So, a technical question about Shehili sound. The song that most impressed me is Darkness Arise, since its instrumental part is absolutely awesome! Elements from typical seventies classic prog, hammond organ, and so on. Why did you decide to include such elements into a “blazing desert metal” album?
Because we don’t want to forget our influences, the bands we grew up with, all the metal and rock we used to listen. All of this sounds contributed to what we sound like right now. We recorded the keyboard solo like a truly seventies one! Our keyboardist Elyes is a huge Deep Purple fan.
Do you identify your band as prog? Because in my opinion, “prog” should be a definition for a kind of music that intends to push art forward. Do you agree with this or you prefer to stay as blazing desert metal band?
I prefer the latter definition,because we are the only one playing this way, and so we unique with this kind of mixture. There are other bands, like Orphaned Land, or Melekesh, we share some elements but each of us have some important differences and everyone has its own research field. Myrath writes music in a very special way, and no one can be compared to us. That’s why I prefer to be defined as a band who began blazing desert metal sound.
And so that’s why you decided to include the flamenco like sound in Shehili song: you didn’t want to be enclosed in just one simple definition.
Exactly. This is our philosophy. We include all kind of inspirations! I listen to every music genre. To classical, to flamenco, to french and italian pop…
Yes! I’m a Laura Pausini fan. I loved her and Zucchero when I was young. Metal, traditional middle-eastern music, and so on. I think that listening to all kind of music without any prejudices makes your brain develops toward a right direction. I think that’s very important to be open to other cultures, other kind of music: we all are like this, and that’s what makes our sound so special and unique.
I would like to ask you something about the two (now three) videoclips. I guess they’re connected, but how is the complete story? And who is sultan Omar?
He’s the true oppressor. He’s the Evil. As I explained to you before, it’s a metaphor of our worlds, but in an imagnary way. We wanted to show that epic battle in a cinematic way. Sultan Omar is what we call now, in this world, its evil side. It can be ISIS, another country, a dictator, an oppressor, and so on.
Which one did you enjoy most to film? Dance or No Holding Back?
For me, No Holding Back.
Oh, those huge drums and keyboards, on the huge ship brigde.
It was so funny!
I would like to ask you something more personal, more about Zaher Zorgati as a singer and not as a Myrath component. You were chosen by Arjen Lucassen aka Ayreon for his The Source album. Why do you think he chose you?
You have to ask him (laughs). I don’t know! He called me, he said he liked my tone and my voice, and he proposed me to work together. We had some issues to record the songs, and I just recorded a small portion. But, also, we talked about to give me a whole role in his next album. Probably I’ll be a main character!
Oh, I guess it would be interesting to work together with all the musicians and singers Arjen uses to summon. It should be awesome for an artist.
Myrath, I have to admit, are pretty unknown in Italy, since here metal scene is not much followed. So, can you tell me what is the Myrath project for you and did it begin?
It began in 2003, we changed our name with the arrival of Kevin Codfert, Adagio keyboard player. We played in roman amphiteater of Cartage as Robert Plant opening band. Kevin decided to work with us, and since then we’ve released five album, and he’s still with us. We played over one hunder concert in our career. We played with many bands, like HIM, Nightwish, Dream Theater, Wasp, Symphony X, Epica, Anathema.
All the big ones. Now you are among them.
Not yet! We really want to reach their level, but we’re definitely not there, right now. We’re confident about Shehili, but we always fear people reaction, because you know, most of metal fans are not very open about new sounds. For example, if you are a Dream Theater fan, you will probably like mostly similar bands.
I hope that metalheads’ll be more openminded to accept our brand new genre.
So, you intend to stay modest. You really didn’t become superb in your career and in your successes, that’s awesome.
I will tell you something very important. Never forget where you come from. We come from a dirty garage in a very tiny village in Tunisia. We used to play heavy metal music there. We are not born as a live band, since we played and have reharsals in that dirty garage! The most important thing is that you must sit on the ground and always stay humble. I think this is why we are here now, we have always been ourselves and modest. We are just a bunch of people who likes music, and we never thought about money or about fame.
One last question. I want to ask you about a prophecy. You said that you hope that the metalheads and the metal scene overall will be more open about new experimentations. Do you think that there will ever be again a prog rock and metal boom like there had been in the seventies and eighties?
I really hope so. Because there is a lot of very commercial shitty music now, and unfortunately the problem is not the music itself, but the people who listen to it. They have been so brainwashed with shitty music that they don’t have any taste anymore. That’s why is very difficult, because you have to change people tastes and minds! I hope so much that there will be a boom, but I’m not confident about it. If you change the whole generation of young people, there will be the boom. For now, Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift will stay as the mainstream music.
And, tell me, when will the tour start?
After Sweden rock festival in June and Wacken in August, we’ll play in Tokyo in September, we’ll start in november Shehili Tour in whole Europe and we’ll also have a support band.
Will you come to Italy?
Certo (in italian). I hope we’ll have more than one gig.
So Zaher, you have been very very kind! Good luck for your brand new album! Thank you.
Thank you too!