[24th June 2013]
[Century Media Records]
01. All Is One
02. The Simple Man
04. Let The Truce Be Known
05. Through Fire And Water
09. Ya Benaye
10 Our Own Messiah
Orphaned Land is a five piece progressive symphonic metal band hailing from Israel. They are characterized by ambitious arrangements and melodies that are greatly influenced by their homeland. Additionally, their lyrical content tends to deal with the religious culture of their homeland, the stories therein, and promoting unity and peace between all Abrahamic religions. As tired as religious lyrical content can be, Orphaned Land have a way of making it into something meaningful and extremely intelligent. Their last album, The Neverending Way of the ORwarriOR, was a concept dealingwith a battle of light and darkness. Now, Orphaned Land are set to release the follow-up, titled All Is One, on June 24th.
The most immediately noticeable thing about All Is One is that it is extremely ambitious in terms of instrumentation and vocal arrangement. Orphaned Land aim high and hit it resulting in the album sounding utterly gorgeous. It is very well produced, allowing all the various instruments used (and there are many) to come through clearly when it is their turn to shine. Additionally, the many layers of vocals, be they a single clean or growled voice or a choir, are balanced extremely well and add so much emotion to the overall music. The guitar, bass, and drums are all mixed perfectly, so as not to overpower nor be drowned, by anything else going on.
Lyrically, the album deals with the ideas of unity between all Abrahamic religions, something reflected in the cover art of the album, wherein the symbols of those faiths are combined into one. It is quite an inspiring message, and is told in a fascinating way. Orphaned Land are master story tellers, conveying their message with relative ease. Some of the lyrics are in Arabic and Hebrew, which does make it a bit more complicated to understand for some, but the crux of the content is still presented well.
On the playing side of things, each member of the band excels individually, but they are also extremely tight as a group. Their sound perfectly meshes without any one thing seeming out of place. Even the more unusual instruments are played well and actually add something to the music rather than simply being there to sound exotic, a problem which can plague some bands. The parts are written specifically for those by someone who really knows how to play that specific instrument, whether it be the oud, the bouzouki, or the chumbush.
The vocal arrangement on the album truly impressive though, perhaps some of the best heard in many years. It carries great gravity, whether it be the quieter “Brother” or the grandiose “Our Own Messiah”. The album’s finale, “Children” is perhaps the most ambitious of all, being the longest song at just over seven minutes, and containing the most orchestral and vocal arrangements, using some astonishingly pretty and angelic sounding choirs in its final minutes as the album draws to a solemn yet graceful close.
All Is One is a fantastic album, chock full of excellent ideas and all tied together with a magnificent narrative told in a captivating fashion. Orphaned Land have always been consistent in their lengthy career, but this one might just be the crowning jewel in the catalogue. It is ambitious, with wonderful instrumentation and arrangement, the composition is top notch, and the songs are all very emotive and memorable. It is impossible to pick the best songs, since each song from the release has something to offer, and the album is worth listening as a whole anyways. This is a progressive metal gem, one that should stay in collections for many years to come.