Review: Orphaned Land – ‘All Is One’

Certainly, Orphaned Land are now Israel’s biggest heavy metal band. When the five-piece released last album ‘The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR’ in 2010, it seemed like the band were entering an even bigger phase of their careers. If anything, the quintet’s fifth studio album gives us a sense that their popularity could inflate even more in the coming years. Orphaned Land maintain their important message of peace in ‘All Is One’ and convey it with a charismatic multicultural mash-up of beautiful folk instrumentation, concise melodic metal and a grandiose orchestral backing.

Orphaned-Land-All-is-One                                             

The Israeli band have made an album that moves away from the previous emphasis on progressive twists and unpredictable grooves that we heard on ‘The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR’. ‘All Is One’ is accessible, catchier, more structurally conventional and – quite significantly – with hardly any growling vocals. That’s not to say that ‘All Is One’ is a straight-forward piece of boring pop metal songs; to say that would be way off the mark. Yossi Sassi still has his chance to show off his virtuoso talents on acoustic, electric guitar and bouzouki, but it’s not forced down your throat and complex choir arrangements are intricately weaved into the album too. It seems Orphaned Land have taught themselves the vital skill of precision; they’ve honed their best talents by knowing when not to include something, as much as knowing when to include it.

Recorded in three different countries (Sweden, Turkey and Israel), the band have made the best use out of producer Jens Bogren, (who also did a very fine job on new Rotting Christ album, ‘Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy’) providing a huge orchestral backdrop to a set of cleverly thought-out metal songs. Lead singer Kobi Farhi comes up with some of his best harmonisations on the record. Hearing the strength of his tragic lyrics yearning for peace, the frontman creates an increasingly emotional atmosphere that peaks in ‘Let the Truce be Known’. Immediate follow-up ‘Through Fire and Water’ is a beautiful standout track performed in Hebrew and with the addition of vocals from Israeli Arab singer Mira Awad. The only mediocre track on ‘All Is One’ is ‘Freedom’ – a guitar-based instrumental track that veers this way and that, but to no real conclusion. ‘Ya Banaye’ is one of the heavier tracks on the record, with a fortress of riffs and powerful ritual chants.

Overall, ‘All Is One’ is a more well-rounded album from Orphaned Land that still doesn’t compromise any of their talents; it’s a definite career highlight that could mark the beginning of much bigger things.

9/10

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