Every now and then I have to pull away from the music world, sometimes it all just becomes so boring and generic, and thus there would be long absences from music for myself, as I loose faith in music as a whole, though admitting; its not often. Then comes a band that bridges cultural divides and revitalizes a love for music in my heart all over again. Orphaned Land is one of those bands that have done just that with their latest offering entitled, “All is One”. That mixes metal with Jewdism and Arabic/Muslim musical influences. “All Is One” is a revitalizing take on musical expression. Not only are their musical arrangements covered in uniqueness , but are also infectious and emotional compositions, yet not so ‘different’ that it would alienate itself from the more generic metal purveyor. I see they like to call their sound, ‘Oriental Metal’. Which is fitting considering the middle eastern musical influence.
From the start the middle eastern influences come through strong, and its this unique blend of influence infused with metal that immediately found myself drawn to its catchy melodies. This album should be filed under ‘Epic’ , as it swoops down and takes you along on an adventure of strong melodies and infectious grooves. A great album takes you on an adventure, and draws you into its story. A good album gets your foot tapping or head bopping, or if you like me moshing round the coffee table without thought and it engages with the listener. Orphaned Land more than succeeds with this.
“Orphaned Land doesn’t base their music on myths that other bands sing about; they focus on situations in the real world that are happening right here, right now. You’d be hard pressed to find any other musicians in Israel that have influenced so many people in outside the country’s borders, and in the eye of opposing religious views Orphaned Land are, in many ways, considered enemies. There’s no escaping the fact, however, that the band’s music has broken down those barriers and unified a community. It wasn’t a new age band or a jazz band that brought people together; it was a Middle Eastern heavy metal band called Orphaned Land.
This has been acknowledged by the fans, who did the unthinkable and started an online petition in 2012 to nominate Orphaned Land for the coveted Nobel Prize. Many metal fans felt strongly about the band’s commitment to inviting the Arab world to listen to their music in spite of resistance and outright bans from Arab League countries. Thousands of people from all over the world have since signed the petition.
“I could never imagine in my wildest imagination that one day an Israeli band would be followed by thousands of Muslims from all over the world,” says frontman Kobi Farhi, noting that Orphaned Land are the proud recipients of four Peace Awards issued by their Turkish brethren. “If we do a show in Istanbul, Turkey – which is the only Muslim country where we’re allowed to play – people come all the way from Iran, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan just to see us. These are enemies that are fighting each other coming to see us as one group of people. I’d say that historically the Jews and Arabs are brothers because we are all descendants of Abraham, but the conflict and the differences are so big that we’ve forgotten that. Discovering the fact that our music is the instrument to remind people that we are all one is shocking to me. I never imagined that blood enemies would open their eyes because of it. That’s why the title of the album is All Is One.”” – from Orphaned Land biography on Facebook.
“Orphaned Land’s lyrics are politically charged most of the time according to Farhi, but not from the point of taking sides. The band is committed to reflecting the political situation in their corner of the world, but they never claim to be for or against any one point of view. All Is One continues their tradition of working and writing as a collective, and if fans go back and explore Orphaned Land’s lyrics from the ’90s (Sahara – 1994, El Norra Alina – 1996) they’ll encounter the same themes and concepts as presented today.” – from Orphaned Land biography on Facebook.
Like I said the middle eastern influence is strong from the get go, and in fact its that influence that adds the quality to the package and adds a vibrant take on what can be done with metal, and how genre’s that are not generally strung together can work well under the right hands. Now I am not too familiar with Orphaned Land, so yes, its an all new experience for me, and like a kid in a candy store, my eyes are stary eyed at the goodies available on the shelf, so yes maybe I am a little over excited about this release, and that could mean I could be overly bias to the overall quality pf therelease, but nevertheless, this is a solid album…FACT! Orphaned Land have apparently been known for their ability to infuse their heavy metal sound with what could be best described as middle-eastern folk. They truly succeed in blending that influence with their death, progressive and doom influences with what seems with seamless ease. To further accompany the big sound they have some keyboard sounds thrown into the mix, and it only makes the sound that much bigger and even more impressive. But never do these influences out punch one another, never do they overbear on each other, and work well in symbiosis, maintaining an organic and fluid symphonic ambiance.
They also manage to stay clear of being pigeon holed or generic by having a varied sound through out. What I most like about punk songs, is often the anthemic sound they have, songs that you can shout and dance along with. Here you will find an album of anthemic appeal, songs that will stick in your head long after the album has finished playing. Songs like “The Simple Man” and “All Is One” are great anthemic heavy melodic tracks, whilst songs like “Brother” and “Let The Truce Be Known touch on being like ballads.
There is no doubt just by looking at the cover that this album covers some biblical themes, but not overly so on listening and if you are one whom does not overly religious tones in your music, then you will like this, it does not come across as in your face. The vocals are strong and there are some great vocal harmonizing throughout, and the instrumentation and vocalization compliment well on this release with some of the songs either in Hebrew or Arabic, like on “Shama’im” and “Ya Benaye”. But this should not be seen as a negative for those whom prefer listening to an album in one specific language, the songs are good, and even just on a musical score, they hold themselves well. But I can see that might be a negative for some people, who prefer an album in one specific language, or with those who prefer the more generic metal sound.
Conclusion. “Over 40 musicians were used to flesh out the sound of ‘All Is One’, including 25 choir singers and eight classical violin, viola and cello players from Turkey. Farhi, for his part, considers All Is One “the greatest album we’ve made to date.” – Farhi. The album is a refreshing piece of musical experience that blends various styles of melodic grooviness and melody. Who would think metal, an middle eastern musical influences could blend so well to make an album so unique and musically accomplished. Certainly one of the more unique and musically superb releases to come out this year. So if you are adventurous, and looking for something that does not hinge on the generic, then try this.
Written by Donovan de Necker
1. All Is One
2. The Simple Man
4. Let the Truce Be Known
5. Through Fire and Water
9. Ya Benaye
10. Our Own Messiah
Kobi Farhi – Vocals and growls
Yossi Sassi – Guitars, backing vocals & Middle Eastern strings
Chen Balbus – guitars
Uri Zelcha – Bass
Matan Shmuely – Drums
“The Beloved’s Cry” (Demo, 1993)
“El Norra Alila” (1996)
“Mabool – The Story of the Three Sons of Seven” (2004)
Sentenced / Orphaned Land (Split, 2005)
“Ararat” (EP, 2005)
“The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR” (2010)
‘Estarabim’ (Single, 2010)
“The Road to OR-Shalem” (Live, 2011)
“The Road to OR-Shalem” (Video, 2011)
“All Is One” (2013)
‘Brother’ (Single, 2013)
Record Label: Century Media Records, June 2013
Interview with ‘Orphaned Land’ [Matti Svatizky] [Oct. 2011]
Video below ‘Brother’
Video below ‘All Is One’