Despite being active since 1991, the pioneers of “oriental metal,” Orphaned Land have released only five studio albums to date, with 2013s All Is One being the most recent. Despite a relatively small amount of releases, each album has been received fantastically with very little negative responses. In so many bands, the reason for huge gaps can be anything from breaks, arguments, extensive touring to even plain laziness. Not Orphaned Land though. The six years that the band spent on the concept album Mabool were spent trying to make the amazingly constructed release exist and it paid off. Another six years followed between Mabool and the next concept album, The Never Ending Way Of The ORWarriOR in 2010. It is now three comparatively short years later and All Is One has just landed.
From the first press of play, All Is One displays Orphaned Land’s strong Eastern and symphonic metal influences. Orphaned Land are so much more than just a metal band though. There are deep messages contained in the lyrics and even in the album art. The All Is One message on the cover is clear, the Star Of David is interlaced with the Christian Crucifix and Islamic Crescent, the band want to spread a message that no matter what race or religion we all fall under, we are all still one. This message of peace reached new highs when an online petition was created arguing for Orphaned Land to be presented with a Nobel Peace Prize for spreading peace and unity across the Middle East. As the petition itself says….
“Orphaned Land has been able to achieve this through their music (which fuses traditional Middle Eastern sounds and instruments with Western Heavy metal), vision of coexistence, collaborations with Arab and Muslim artists, and a vigorous and active community of fans.”
Despite this peaceful message, being Israeli has hindered the band being able to play for these legions of Arab fans because of Government and political issues.
This enemies creating peace idea is represented over the album, with one of the most striking for Western cultures probably being Let The Truce Be Known that tells the famous story of the World War Two Christmas truce (if you don’t know this story, click here). The theme is present in practically every song though, with tracks taking different sides points of view that are ultimately quite similar.
Moving away from lyrical themes to focus on the music itself, long time listeners of Orphaned Land will be quick to notice that the death metal style music has been pulled back to an almost non-existent level. While the death metal leanings have faded, the symphonic influences have rocketed forward. Despite the traditionally “evil” and “dark” sounding vibe that surrounds death metal, Orphaned Land have managed to produce one of their darkest albums without using it much. With reportedly over forty musicians performing on this release, it’s no wonder they were able to create these feelings of deep darkness.
Once again Orphaned Land have created more than just an album and have delivered something that will affect the listener on every level, from primal music moods through to tracks that will make us stop and think about the world as it is. Definitely one of the strongest releases of 2013.