When the German theatre director, Walter Wayers, approached upon the subject of the biblical story of Abraham in the land of Kna’an, he started to play it out in his head a musical journey in collaboration with Middle eastern folk and metal bands, Orphaned Land and Amaseffer. This paved way for a collaborative effort between the two bands and resulted in an amalgamation of a folky classical sound that transcends many barriers and brings in life to the myth. The album was released on the 26th of August 2016 under the label of Century Media Records.
Orphaned Land is an Israeli Oriental metal pioneer, that have Arabic, Jewish and West Asian Influences, as they use Progressive, doom, death metal and Middle eastern folk music elements in their sound. After going through several line-up changes, the band currently comprises of two of its founding members Kobi Farhi on Vocals and Uri Zelcha on bass. Their music promotes peace and unity within the three main Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Each of their albums have some concept related to two extremes: a meeting of East and West, past and present, light and darkness, and God and Satan.
Amaseffer is an Israeli Progressive metal formed in the year 2004 by the drummer and percussionist Erez Yohanan, and guitarist Yuval Kramer. A year later, a second guitarist Hanan Avramovich joined and completed the line-up. This is also when the band got its name “Amaseffer” – from Hebrew “Am Ha’Sefer” – People of the (holy) book. Amaseffer was formed with the idea of a historical trilogy in mind – to tell the old testament’s story of the Exodus, from the Hebrew slavery period in ancient Egypt, through the years in the desert, and up to the entrance of the twelve tribes of Israel to the promised land of Canaan.
The concept themed album opens up with “The Holy Land of Kna’an” having a French narrative coupled with a middle eastern hymn sets out the soundscape for the entire album to follow. “The Angel of the Lord” picks up pace and has some heavy guitar chugs with an offbeat guitar riff during the verse, the chorus takes on a beautiful melody, balancing the vocals between baritones and countertenor.
“A dove without her wings – Hagar”, “The loneliness of Itzhak” and “Naked -Sarah and Abraham” take on an acoustic start and the melody on the vocals hits high and eerie notes, making the songs pretty atmospheric. With “The burning Garden – Sarah and Hangar” we foray into the doom metal intro which is led by the melodic narrative on female vocals (something similar on “The Vision” are mystic middle eastern hymns). This song picks up a beautiful acoustic arpeggio and the vocals segments have been written really well which leads the direction of the song.
“A tree without no Fruit – Sarah” has a beautiful middle eastern ukulele and guitar riff. The songs keep on getting better as we progress through the album. “There Is No God for Ishma’el” has a pretty demonic intro and along with “Naked -Abraham” punches in with a brilliant guitar riffs and are two of the heaviest and fast-paced songs on the album.
“Akeda” starts off with orchestrated composition captivating us with a beautiful guitar solo at the intro, and the vocals take a similar approach throughout the song, keeping a theme of its melody omnipresent. The song shifts and with added narratives and experimental guitar riffs make it a very hypnotic song. Some tremendous guitar work can be heard at the end as solo catches up.
Although “Fruits from Different Trees – Ishma’el and Itzhak” has an acoustic beginning, the song surprises us picking up a heavy-laden guitar riff by completely taking a 360 shift in its direction. The song writing on this album is commendable and of the highest calibre. You find plenty of middle eastern influences in all the songs.
We close this wonderful concept album with “Prisoners of Past” where a choir like song arrangement brings in all the vocals on one platform; the Mezzo-sopranos, the contraltos and the tenor.
Production – The songs on album are produced well. The album has a diverse song arrangement and at no point the songs lose melody. The songs are vocal driven, and the complementing guitar work adds much flavour to a very rich concept album, the two bands weave magic together.
Conclusion – If you are looking out for a melodic sound and beautiful vocals, you’ve hit the jackpot with this one. Go for it!
Written by: Ankit Sood
Band Members (Orphaned Land):
Kobi Farhi – lead vocals
Uri Zelcha – bass guitars
Matan Shmuely – drums, percussion
Chen Balbus – guitars, piano, Bouzouki, Saz, Oud, xylophone, backing vocals
Idan Amsalem – guitars, bouzouki
Band Members (Amaseffer):
Hanan Avramovich – guitars
Yuval Kramer – guitars
Erez Yohanan – drums, percussion, narrating
Mats Léven – lead vocals
1. The Holy Land of Kna’an
2. The Angel of the Lord
3. Naked – Sarah and Abraham
4. The Burning Garden – Sarah and Hagar
5. Naked – Abraham
6. A Tree Without No Fruit – Sarah
7. There Is No God for Ishma’el
8. The Vision
9. A Dove Without Her Wings – Hagar
10. The Loneliness of Itzhak
12. Fruits from Different Trees – Ishma’el and Itzhak
13. Prisoners of the Past
“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) [review]
‘Brother’ (Single, 2013)
“Sukkot in Berlin” (EP, 2015)
Amaseffer / Orphaned Land – “Kna’an” (split, 2016)
Record Label: Century Media, Aug. 2016