Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs

Rating: 4.5/5
Distributor/label: Century Media Records
Distributor/label URL: http://www.centurymedia.com
Released: 2018
Buy Album [URL]: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Unsung-Prophets-Dead-Messiahs-Orphaned/dp/B0779NWG2D/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1515186840&sr=1-1&keywords=orphaned+land+unsung+prophets+and+dead+messiahs
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/pg/OrphanedLandOfficial/about/?ref=page_internal

Band line-up:

Kobi Farhi – Vocals
Chen Balbus – Guitars
Idan Amsalem – Guitars
Uri Zelcha – Bass
Matan Shmuely – Drums

Tracklisting:

1: The Cave
2: We Do Not Resist
3: In Propaganda
4: All Knowing Eye
5: Yedidi
6: Chains Fall to Gravity
7: Like Orpheus
8: Poets of Prophetic Messianism
9: Left Behind
10: My Brother’s Keeper
11: Take My Hand
12: Only The Dead Have Seen The End Of War
13: The Manifest – Epilogue

Review:

The ‘oriental metal’ band Orphaned Land formed in Israel in 1991, and they have spent the last 27 years using their music to spread positive and peaceful messages. (That’s different, isn’t it?) Throughout all of their soon to be six albums, the group have been uniting fans across the Middle East and much further, no matter what their beliefs or nationalities are. In fact, these guys won three major international peace awards as well as the magazine Metal Hammer’s ‘Global Metal’ award. Their upcoming effort, ‘Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs’ is fuelled by contempt for the current state of humanity. It is also inspired by the writings of Plato and the thwarted hopes of historic, peaceful revolutionaries. Helping the band with their concept and making guest appearances are Steve Hackett (ex -Genesis), Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian) and Tomas Lindberg (At The Gates/The Lurking Fear).

Orphaned Land aren’t just a metal band with Arabic influences, they are a band who write genuinely good and authentic music of the region; it’s just metalised. Their ‘Yedidi’ could well be a traditional piece of Middle Eastern music, were it not for the heavy drums, distorted guitars and the Westernised vocal delivery. The vocals throughout the album are rather typical of rock, in fact, but the way the two cultures meet each other musically, is very interesting. Despite the often sombre tone of Eastern music, the music here is surprisingly easy on the ears and is more majestic than harsh. This is partly because the music is so expertly put together, with the skill of trained orchestrators, but also because the musicians are masters at creating exactly what they have in their heads – their fanatic message of peace, not darkness. Their simultaneously heavy music is quite the paradox, but it works.

Whilst the music has a serious ideology, it remains fun and exciting to listen to. It’s if the band are saying ‘we must fight to ensure the survival of mankind and we must never give up, but part of not giving up is to enjoy oneself at the same time.’ Equally intriguing as the band’s meeting of cultures and their unique mission, are the varied elements of symphonic metal, traditional metal riffing, occasional death metal vocals and prog complexities. A lot is going on. However, the band aren’t super prog; they’re not ones who like to change time signature after every bar, but instead they prog with taste and with more subtle though equally effective development. All songs develop in natural, exciting and intelligent ways, just as a classic short story would. However, while this music is almost flawless, it does seem to lack memorable riffs and melodies. They are a million miles away from bad, but there are arguably no ‘Smoke on the Water’ hooks, here, and the vocals mostly suffer the same fate as the guitars. However, ‘Yedidi’ which is pure class from start to finish, is an exeption. If only there was more of that super catchy, yet inventive stuff.

In conclusion, the music here has a rare distinctive nature, without it being at all weird or excessive. The musicianship is also highly competent and stylish, yet not overindulgent and annoying. The same can’t always be said for bands such as Dream Theater who have some pretty notey guitar and keyboard solos, out there. In that respect, Orphaned Land are arguably more mature than them in many ways. However, the two bands are very different, so it is a little strange comparing the two; OL are more atmospheric than crazy. Even though clearly different to DT, I’m sure this is a band fans of them will like, and indeed I’m sure all prog fans in general will love this. Will it lead to world peace? I doubt it, but look on the bright side; if it did, the band members may end up being assassinated. As they point out, many of the people who try to change the world for the better, end up being murdered. Look on the bright side, eh?

Review by Simon Wiedemann

 

Share
Copyright © The Independent Voice 2018