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Orphaned Land - All Is One Award winner

Orphaned Land
All Is One
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein / Angela "The Hunter" / Tuoksu Holopainen at 06 June 2013, 2:12 PM

STEINMETAL (8/10)

Light will always shine through the depth of darkness, but will there be an actual armistice between two sides scoured and consumed with hate and abhorrence? As an Israeli, a member of the Middle Eastern lands, this has been a troubling question for many years. It has been hard to notice that there is that constant fear, loss, uncertainty of one’s safety, and a solution seemed like a distant prayer dying under a veil of disbelief and torment. With an attempt to raise hopes, spread the will for an endless peace, coexistence, fight for a brighter and unified future for both peoples, Jews and Muslims, which have been living in anxiety and perpetual long overbearing trauma, the Israeli Progressive Metal band, ORPHANED LAND, returns with “All Is One”, via Century Media. While still remaining devoted to an inventive form of Metal music, ORPHANED LAND surged kneed deep into what could be recognized as local Folk music, in comparison to spread of salvos displayed on their earlier ventures caressed under an extreme Metal shroud. In overall, “All Is One” teaches that there is always something to gain by trying harder, make amends, and befriend the hateful see that there are others ways to find resolution. Likewise, ORPHANED LAND’s new gamble asserts what seems to be a distorted path farther ahead from the starting point, which will be watched upon with closely heedful eyes and ears.

I can’t really explain why and how, as a mere traditional Metal devotee that became diverse as the years went by; ORPHANED LAND affected my soul right from the very first time I held the booklet, listening to their debut “Sahara”. The sounds of garnished extreme Metal, as if there are no limits to progression, along with distant voices and chants from back home and the Middle East, seemed so appealing from nearly everything that came in close proximity regarding genre. Following their driving potency and influence following their next pictorial releases, I deemed ORPHANED LAND to be Israel’s paramount force in the local Metal music scene and one of the best in the world. As for the virtues and antics of “All Is One”, especially after such imminence to perfection as “The Never Ending Way Of OrWarriOR”, it felt different. Undoubtedly, this album can be regarded as a fairly new plotted course musically. ORPHANED LAND, in a measure, stirred away from extreme Metal right into the belly of Middle Eastern music that took hold over their Metallic edge. For better or worse, it is a matter of taste, yet I have to admit that I it sensed like a slight waver, a change that didn’t hoist the same incredible sensation of early albums. I am no fan of Middle Eastern music, never have been, thus reckoning “Shama'im” (Hebrew word for Sky) as somewhat of a falter, yet I have always believed that Metal music, as a major particle within a fusion of genres and musical styles, can only nurture a phenomena. “All Is One”, track after track, had me expecting for more, wishing solve the enigma of the conflict, letting me taste everything of the band’s arsenal, gulp the complexities, Arabian scales, flow of riffs and enhanced melodies along with highlighted orchestrated instruments. Yes, it felt like ORPHAND LAND, yet as I stated earlier, different.

“All Is One”, such an atmospheric track willing to relinquish past animosities, a unified cry for change. I really enjoyed the arrangements, rhythm guitars, tremendous lead guitar solo, assumingly by the gifted Yossi Sassi, not a traditional type song, but still paved the road to a catchy track with well written lyrics, truly inspiring. “Through Fire and Water”, a chant, a storytelling moment followed by an engulfing music full of grace and character, Arabian driven mainly, sung partially in Hebrew and Arabic, this is what ORPHANED LAND have always wanted, forgiveness will vanquish blood and war. “Brother”, as sort of a history listen in a different point of view, not the conflict of a nation, but the conflict of two individuals from two different sides, in time to be brothers once again, two historical figures in a crossroads. Musically, an acoustic song embraced by an orchestral build, nearly powerful than anything heavier. On the other hand, my peak interest led me to “Fail”, a piece of the past, reminded me of the earlier ORPHANED LAND efforts. I wouldn’t exactly portray it as extreme, though there is the crowning quality of the delivered growls of Kobi Farhi on display that I longed for, but the enticing density of the rhythms, melodic and prodigious riffery and the distinctive clean vocalic showcase, fulfilled my lust for something angrier. The machine called hate, like a vacuum sucking us into its reality, never willing to let go; only we can set ourselves free off the burdens of imminent death. I believe that I perceived it right, or at least something closer. In a few last words, I had a feeling that this new journey through the visions of ORPHANED LAND will reflect an assorted musical spirit, slowly changing. “All Is One” is an impressive release, not as the previous ones that came before it, but an exertion of grandeur no less.

ANGELA “THE HUNTER” (8/10)

ORPHANED LAND’s upcoming release, “All Is One”, is a great blend of symphonic metal and Middle Eastern music giving it an uplifting and worldly sound. The strings and keys add depth and melody while the guitars and bass add a Metal edge and keep the power flowing through each song. Kobi Farhi keeps the Metal goodness flowing with passionate and tempered vocals that sway and move with each lyric breathed into life. The diversity and creativity in this album is quite astounding. From moments of driving riffs to tranquil streams of sublime strings, the album is very well rounded. Some truly stand out songs are “Brother”, “Through Fire And Water”, and “Our Own Messiah”. I am truly impressed with their follow up release.

However, what I am not impressed with, is the band’s Facebook description slamming other bands that write about other aspects in life: ”Something beyond melodic Death Metal, Black Metal and Folk Metal, 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”. Really? No one doubts the influence the band has had in Metal, nor can many bands truly speak to the struggles ORPHANED LAND has endured, and come out the other side stronger. But this is silly, and does nothing to further the band’s cause. And to say that “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“. It just doesn’t make any sense. I have yet to read (and please correct me if I am wrong) anywhere that Jazz or New Age bands have received any credit in regards to uniting Metal fans in the Middle East. Again, just more division in ranks where unity is vital to our survival.

The album is great, well recorded, intelligent, and very creative. Fans will truly appreciate the release, as I did. I respectfully disagree with their approach on Facebook, and if the band truly feels this way, it will hinder my decision to purchase any more of their albums in the future. For a rating, I would say 8 out of 10. Until next time, stay well, and live free!

TUOKSU HOLOPAINEN (10/10)

Well, this time, the band is an all-time favorite of mine, and even though I try to be as unbiased as possible, I still find myself awe-inspired before the startling grandeur of the masters and pioneers of Oriental Metal every time. "All Is One" is certainly nothing like "Mabool", an album which I consider one of the greatest of all-time, yet it still inspires a standing ovation for being such a masterpiece. It is obviously a concept album, but this time it's more focused on the noble message behind their soul-captivating music that kept bringing together people from all backgrounds.

As always expected from ORPHANED LAND, the material ranges from soft, almost non-Metal ballads, to heavier, progressive and vigorous songs. Kobi Farhi growls are less evident on this album. Instead, he delivered his most touching and heartfelt performance ever with his angelic voice. More choirs are present in this album too, yet Shlomit Levi's outstanding voice is missing. The album opens up with the title-track "All Is One", which captures the essence of the whole thing, both musically and lyrically. The best feat of this song, I shall say, is Farhi's voice complemented by the thrilling choirs. "Simple Man" has a catchy chorus and an enchanting oriental relish. I guess all of you have already listened to "Brother", a touching ballad telling the story of Isaac and Ishmael as told in the Torah. It's followed by the already-everyone's-favorite "Let The Truce Be Known", my personal favorite as well.  No words would describe the powerful emotion in this song or the splendor of Farhi’s voice that is perfection of every single detail. Female vocals and Arabic lyrics are introduced in "Through Fire and Water". As an Arab, I find it very pleasing. This too is one of top favorites for now. The most Metal part starts with "Fail" (which is actually a win) and Farhi can be heard growling at last, bringing back the awesomeness of "The Never Ending Way of Or-warrior". "Freedom" is also another guitar-driven track. It's a very mellow, catchy and intriguing instrumental piece, especially towards the last part of it. The next two tracks aren't original ORPHANED LAND tracks. "Shama'im" was originally performed by the band members' idol Yehuda Poliker, while "Ya Benaye", a Yemenite song, is a cover of Arahom Amram. I find both tracks excellent, and I admit they are my most-played songs for now. They're just so fun! The former song is very beautiful and kind of romantic while the latter is sung fully in Arabic, something I find quite funny yet amazing for me, again, being an Arabic-speaking person. Farhi kind of seems struggling with the Yemeni though and the guys did an amazing job in metalizing the two tracks. I personally would have never cared about them if I heard them in the original artists' versions. When it comes to "Our Own Messiah" you're already feeling that the whole thing is coming to an end especially that the mood of the song gives you that impression. Yet still, the longest track is still ahead. "Children" is quite melancholic but excellent as it has balance between the oriental parts and the Metal parts.

Although it's quite too early to decide about that, I've already picked "All Is One" as my #1 album for this year.

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. All Is One
2. The Simple Man
3. Brother
4. Let the Truce Be Known
5. Through Fire and Water
6. Fail
7. Freedom
8. Shama'im
9. Ya Benaye
10. Our Own Messiah
11. Children
Lineup:
Kobi Farhi - Vocals
Yossi Sassi - Guitars, Backing Vocals & Middle Eastern Strings
Chen Balbus - Guitars
Uri Zelcha - Bass
Matan Shmuely - Drums
Record Label: Century Media
     


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