Archive for July, 2013

Orphaned Land – All Is One

Posted in Folk Metal, Prog with tags , , , , , , on July 1, 2013 by Badass and Grim

Orphaned-Land-All-is-One

My first encounter with Israeli act Orphaned Land was the truly epic “Never-Ending Way of ORwarriOR”. I was completely hooked by the 78min mix of death, prog and traditional Middle-Eastern music, and have nothing but respect for their aim of using their music to build bridges in their incredibly fraught region of the world. They continue this trajectory on recent release “All Is One”, although shedding the remaining vestiges of their death metal influences, using clean vocals to further increase the clarity of their message. I’d normally get a little wary around this level of politics in metal (Barny Gumble in the back of my head is shouting “Preachy!!! at Green Day”, but in this case the message of “hey guys, we’ve been at this for a few thousand years, do you recon’ we could stop slaughtering each over now” is such an obviously unobjectionable question that I’m 100% behind them.

Planting the flag firmly for the cause of tolerance and peace the album cover is a bold mission statement with the Crucifix, Crescent and Star of David intertwined and radiating, “All Is One”, for myself highlighting the inherent stupidity of three religions which for the most part venerate the same figures and with so much textual overlap fighting each other with such bitterness for so long.

So onto the music. The songs are definitely a lot snappier than the previous release, and the total album length has come down some, but this has only served to distil the quality of these musicians and songwriters. There is a great mix of progressive riffing and the use of folk influences. The latter are definitely stronger than ever, but they don’t overwhelm the fact that this is still a metal act. Songs like “Ya Benaye” do for middle-eastern traditional music what Tyr achieve for scandanavian folk, creating a refreshing mix of new and ancient. The strings in this album are also excellent, performing flawless glissandos throughout, a technique which is incredibly difficult to accomplish on the violin without sounding like a bag full of cats being thrown down the stairs.

Particular favourites include “Brothers”, which focusses on the legendary patriarchs of Arabs and Jews, Ishmael and Isaac respectively. In the biblical tale, Abraham has Ishmael by his second wife / servant Hagar, and when his wife Sarah gives birth to Isaac, she makes Abraham cast Ishmael out into the desert. The track is from the perspective of Isaac asking his brother’s forgiveness and reconciliation “Forsaken like a nomad, deserted in the flood, forgive me brother…from this tiny cornerstone we can build a realm of light”, which has obvious overtones in light of modern events. “Let The Truce Be Known” is also a moving track, and is the story of two boys who grow up together, end up fighting in separate armies, meet during a ceasefire only to kill each other the following night.

Metal is a genre which is often escapist and fantastic, so its incredibly satisfying to listen to a band with something relevant to express in their art, and which is so thoughtfully and beautifully articulated as in this album.

Deej

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