Commemorating thirty years of Orphaned Land, the band have released the live album, A Heaven You May Create. The show was recorded with a symphonic orchestra at Heichal HaTarbut in Tel Aviv, Israel, back in 2021.
Orphaned Land – A Heaven You May Create (Century Media)
Release Date: Out Now
Words: Adrian Stonley
Orphaned Land may not be the first rock band to record with an orchestra and certainly won’t be the last. But adding the differentiating textures of the orchestra to their full-blown Metal sound does add a symphonic element, both rock and classical, to the final product.
This results in a live album that stands out from other similarly recorded albums. Perhaps this is due to the quality of the material that Orphaned Land have produced, and the orchestra have to work with.
Maybe this is because Orphaned Land have built traditional Eastern, Hebrew and Arabic themes into their material, so the music lends itself to the orchestration.
Whatever presumption we apply, the bottom line is that this is a live album that works really well and more than showcases the musical abilities of Orphaned Land as a band.
Being recorded during the Pandemic, this live album pays testament to their determination and resilience during what were particularly challenging times, despite the limitations imposed socially at that time.
In many ways, this album could be one of the most important releases this year. For those who do not know the history of the band, if the media had their way, then they would be an outfit that should not exist due to their different cultural and religious environments.
With the band members having backgrounds from Israeli Jewish, Christian and Arab communities, then, on paper, this is a band that should not even be a consideration.
Yet they have been writing music now for thirty years and driving home their own personal message of peace, unity and understanding to the troubled Middle East.
At this time, in particular, the message in their songs is one that should not be ignored or glossed over. They continue to try to share their message and spread harmony with their musical integrity and output.
This album, very much a best of but in a live environment, showcases their unwavering commitment to not only their music but also to the fanbase, who from all sides of the divides have staunchly remained with them throughout long and difficult times.
As a live album, this shows us another side of Orphaned Land.
The concert, like so many of their shows, is quite electric, with the atmosphere generated showing through in the songs performed.
As the frontman from the beginning, Kobi Fahri still drives the band and, surrounded by consummate musicians, produces a show that those listening to can only wish they had been able to attend.
The songs recorded here provide us with a run-through of their back catalogue and showcase their unique amalgamation of musical genres in the creation of the tunes played. Bringing their own cultural traditions as well as wider Eastern and African influences into their music, they have created a smorgasbord of quite sumptuous and wonderful musical eclecticness.
The sound is clearly their standard Metal form, yet with technical and traditional instrumental bursts throughout, often leaning into Progressive areas as they deliver these well-known and popular pieces.
Though the set covers their entire career, it is clear that two albums, Mabool – The Story of the Three Sons of Seven and Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs, predominate here, with nine of the thirteen songs coming from these two albums.
The album itself opens with orchestral strings adding a gentle tone to proceedings before the band open up with bone-crunching guitars and driving drums of the bombastic Mabool before it segued into the guitar-fest of The Storm Still Rages, which allowed the band to open up and set the level for that which was to come.
The tunes here have all been enhanced by the orchestra, and that in itself has lifted them from the standard album environment. Certainly, the choral arrangements in Orpheus and All Knowing Eye add drama to the pieces and produce a widened musical texture to the songs.
The woodwind introduction to Sapari is haunting, and this is enhanced through the soaring guest female vocal from Noa Gruman from Scardust, which lifts the piece, giving it a more sumptuous Symphonic Metal feel.
Orphaned Lands music is, in its own right, complex, powerful and emotional, and this live environment is the perfect scenario for songs such as Birth Of The Three, which in itself is a powerhouse of a song and takes this piece to a higher level.
Much as the music here is important, so is the lyrical element, and Orphaned Land are a band who not only wear their hearts on their sleeves but are unafraid of writing strong, thoughtful and at times questioning lyrics aimed at the heart of Middle Eastern conflict and the drivers to these issues.
This is an approach that has caused them some difficulties in the past but needs to be seen in the wider context as they aim to make sense of the divisions and conflicts arising in their homeland and look to remonstrate and build harmony in a divided world.
Vocalist and frontman Kobi Fahri has been quoted as saying that his main mission is “to bring people and hearts together, from all countries and sectors of the bleeding Middle East”, and certainly, the message is here for those who wish to listen.
The musical sweep demonstrated throughout this album is such that a detailed analysis of each individual piece could be merited. However, it is for all listeners to make their minds up regarding their own interpretation of the music and its individual merits.
However, there are key factors that can be considered. The Cave begins with a strong vocal courtesy of Noa Gruman before musically and lyrically developing a very traditional Eastern feel to the song structure. The vocals, which switch from clean to Death Metal guttural, also add different textures to the tune.
This is a piece that works particularly well in the orchestral environment, with the musical ambience and choral parts embedded perfectly within the heavy riffage that develops throughout the piece.
Propaganda has an appealing folk dance element oriented within its structure before the band slow procedures up and roll into All Knowing Eye, a more balladic-styled tune with gentle acoustic guitar and choral chorus behind it.
Birth Of The Three returns the band to their anthemic best as it gets to the core of political and social issues and responsibilities integrated with belief structures.
Like Propaganda, Ocean Land is another piece dripping in traditional musical themes, which are enhanced by orchestration. The audience joined in singing along, providing clear evidence of the quality of the show in its live environment and the obvious enjoyment being generated on the night.
Because of the multi-cultural nature of the band, it is unsurprising that the lyrical language varies from Hebrew to English. Yet the musicality is also inspired strongly by Arabic musical culture. This conglomeration of styles from an Israeli band can in itself be seen as, using biblical terminology that the band are familiar with, forbidden fruit. It is this which entices fans from across different cultural areas.
Yet, it is irrelevant what language the band sing in, whether switching from Hebrew to English or incorporating Yemenite chants. The message contained is one of vibrancy and unity.
Two massive fan favourites close the set with All Is One containing a symphonic choral beginning, intertwined with the more traditional swirling folk feel before soaring into Norra El Norra with its Maidenesque chant audience singalong.
This is quite simply an astounding representation of this band at their peak, standing against the odds to make their point and simply letting the music do the talking.
Orphaned Land – A Heaven You May Create: Tracklist
• Mabool [Mabool – The Story of the Three Sons of Seven]
• The Storm Still Rages Inside [Mabool – The Story of the Three Sons of Seven]
• Like Orpheus [Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs]
• Sapari [The Never Ending Way of Orwarrior]
• The Cave [Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs]
• In Propaganda [Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs]
• All Knowing Eye [Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs]
• Brother [All Is One]
• Birth Of The Three [Mabool – The Story of the Three Sons of Seven]
• Ocean Land [Mabool – The Story of the Three Sons of Seven]
• All Is One [All Is One]
• In Thy Never Ending Way [The Never Ending Way of Orwarrior]
• Norra El Norra [Mabool – The Story of the Three Sons of Seven]
Orphaned Land Are:
• Kobi Farhi – vocals
• Uri Zelcha – bass
• Idan Amsalem – guitars
• Chen Balbus – guitars, piano, backing vocals, bouzouki, saz, oud
For more details, visit https://orphanedland.lnk.to/AHeavenYouMayCreate-Live.