Orphaned Land – All Is One
Written by Evan Barnes
There is, perhaps, no band as politically important to a given area of the world as Israeli progressive metallers Orphaned Land. Recently nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Orphaned Land seeks to unite the people of the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faiths in an otherwise highly volatile Middle East through the universal language of music. Combining progressive metal with Arabic folk music, Orphaned Land isn’t just the message of peace they proclaim; they write some damn good music to back the message up.
Immediately noticeable on their latest release All Is One is a departure from the death/doom of their past output on ORWarriOR and Mabool to a softer, more accessible progressive metal sound. The album starts on a bombasic note, with choral vocals ushering the title track in and then back out. There is a catchy Arabic folk feel throughout, as per usual with Orphaned land, which is then continued on the next track “Simple Man”. This brings us to the ballad, the incredible “Brother”.
This is by far my favorite track on the album. It begins by telling the story of Ishmael from Isaac’s perspective. The story is then related to modern-day events and the fighting in the Middle-East. The lyrics ask for forgiveness, saying “Brother hear my plea tonight. I grow tired from these endless years of fight.” Obviously, this song is aimed at the relationship between adherents to Judaism and Islam, but as a Christian who recently closely befriended a Muslim girl at school, “Brother” really does move me.
From here, the album settles in quite nicely. The classic doomy elements kick in, and vocalist Kobi Farhi puts forth a fantastic performance with his smooth vocals and occasional growls. The message running through each of the songs is one of unity and the transcendence of violence, which is typical for an Orphaned Land album. The folky elements never wane, and are helped by an impressive cast of 31 guest musicians consisting of choir vocalists, a female singer, and percussion and string instruments. The overall musical quality on this album never really takes a dip. The listener will get no reprieve from excellent music, but a possible issue arises in that, throughout the eleven tracks the album boasts, some can get to feel repetitive. Given how unique Orphaned Land is among their progressive metal peers, this doesn’t bother me quite as much as it would coming from some other bands.
Would I say this album is as good as Mabool or even ORWarriOR? No, probably not. But this is an excellent album in its own right. The musicianship is tight and catchy, the vocals are strong, and the message is powerful. The song lengths are short for a progressive band, bringing to mind the latest Myrath album as a comparison. Musically, it sounds more like Myrath and Amaseffer than older Orphaned Land, mainly because of the ditching of the extreme elements. Fans of those bands are likely to love this, while fans of Orphaned Land’s extreme days will have a little bit tougher time getting into this. But if you like progressive metal and Oriental or Arabic folk music, you cannot miss this album.
4.0 // 5