Three years since the release of their Steven Wilson produced “The Never Ending Way of Or Warrior” album and Israeli Orphaned Land have created another collection of songs that are serving to introduce music from the Middle East to a wider audience.
In 2012 an online petition was created to help promote a nomination for the band for the Nobel Prize to recognise the work they have done in breaking down musical and cultural barriers throughout the world. Vocalist Kobi Farhi has noted in the past that Orphaned Land have attracted audiences from communities that have often being in conflict but have been brought together in their love of the music,
“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.”
“The Never Ending Way of the Or Warrior” has been criticised contemporaneously for being excessively lengthy and overexcited in its production, and bearing in mind the 6 year gap since the preceding release, more of what had previously been heard. Close followers of the bands output may then be aware of a maturity in their latest release that highlights their ability to develop stylistically.
Lyrically Orphaned Land concern themselves heavily with political issues, but never appear to take sides and act as commentators rather than agitators. The music itself is lavishly augmented by a 25 piece choir and violin, viola and cello players from Turkey. The production is sharp and vibrant allowing each piece the space to showcase the vast array of components.
The opening track “All is One” opens with breathtaking choral arrangements and powerful chord progressions peppered with Middle Eastern influences that bring a whole new meaning to the “World Music” genre. ‘The Simple Man’ opens with a traditional Israeli flavour before releasing a cornucopia of styles and characteristics which, rather than fragment and distract from the piece, coagulate into a joyous, enriching whole. This melting pot of sound is used to equally good effect on more meditative pieces such as ‘Brother’ and more abrasive pieces such as ‘Fail’. ‘Ya Benaye’ seems to utilise their characteristic conglomeration of cultures with spectacular results, and shows that it is possible to successfully produce melodic black metal and death metal which is fully integrated with local culture as opposed to using that culture as a novelty extension. Fusing all these components into the majestic ‘Our Own Messiah’ shows how Orphaned Land can successfully incorporate progressive techniques into their song writing whilst maintaining personal integrity. Possibly, it may be argued, a band that could genuinely be referred to as political and cultural ambassadors.