In troubled times such as these, it is a pure joy to see a band being a voice of reason and compassion amid all the harsh words and other projectiles thrown around in the Israel/Palestine conflict. But then Orphaned Land are no ordinary band. Displaying active involvement in uniting Middle Eastern communities (they’ve been the subject of two consecutive petitions to get them nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize), the Israeli band have been instrumental in several ways in promoting a peaceful resolution to the conflict, as well as playing concerts in unusual locations such as synagogues. It’s about time they’re due a visit to Bloodstock.
Their blend of folk-infused metal is also impossible to deny as infectious and pregnant with emotion. Opener ‘All Is One’ sets the right tone, where the sound mix is wonderfully balanced between the grooving metal riffs and the orchestral/folk instrument lashings, and the band are clearly in a joyous mood. Kobi Farhi is practically dancing around the stage, exuding a hippie-like aura that brings Bloodstock closer to its Woodstock namesake than the festival has been for a while.
Next, one of the most emotionally powerful moments of the festival occurs in the form of ‘Brother’, a touching tribute of forgiveness made all the stronger by an anecdote provided by Kobi, in which he details an exchange between a Palestinian musician and him, where “the only thing we need to fight about is who’s going to pay for the fucking beer”. Pure metal friendship. Farhi’s clean vocals are pristine, filled with emotion regardless of which language he is singing in, as ‘Sapari’ proves with its catchy Hebrew-language chorus.
Deeper into the set, ‘Ocean Land’ and ‘The Kiss Of Babylon’ unveil a darker side to his voice: the band’s origins lie in doom-death territory, and Kobi still harkens back to this era with his deep growls, in as good nick now as they were a decade ago when the latter song was released. While Kobi exhibits himself as an all-rounder frontman, the instrumentalists are busy grinning and playing the groovy riffs, engaging with the crowd and each other with a sense of joy to be onstage.
Each track unfolds and evolves naturally despite (or perhaps because of) the diverse setlist, and after one final hurrah, the band leave to rapturous applause, and we can hardly wait for their acoustic set later that day.
Photos by Sabrina Ramdoyal