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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Orphaned Land - The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR

Israeli Metalheads Take A Trip Into Steven Wilson's World.

Orphaned Land is a progressive/oriental metal band from, you guessed it, Israel. Their new record, "The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR," has been in the making for just about 6 years. This is after the groundbreaking success of their previous album "Mabool" was released. So for this record they lured in produced extraordinaire, Steven Wilson.
This record explores more areas then on the previous record did in terms of conceptualized worlds and soundscapes. From the concept of a journey of life inside this ORwarriOR person in a coma, trying to be awakened by his friends and family. Where the music explores territories entered on "Mabool," but explored more in depth. From progressive rock, oriental folk music, tribal chants, and to an extent, even black and doom metal.
From the very folk influenced opener, Sapari, this album begins to unfold with influences that twist around each other. Even the second track, From Broken Vessels, combines styles in a very fluid manner, combining death metal, folk music, and prog together in a very melodic way. This moves into Bereft In The Abyss, an acoustic interlude track that sounds very epic unto itself with Kobi Farhi's melodic and woeful vocals over the acoustic passage.
This album contains those melodic parts that will get stuck inside your head, the heavy parts to get your head banging, and the mellow parts to get you back to ground-level before your paralyzed from the neck down. This album is the accumulation of styles and visions that hold it head-and-shoulders above many other releases in the past decade. An easy assumption would be that this album is just the next "Mabool" album, while it contains the elements found in that record, it is far beyond it's double. This record could be compared to Opeth's "Blackwater Park" or Evergrey's "Recreation Day" records in that these are all records that made the band and where everything just clicked.
As already stated, Steven Wilson, of Porcupine Tree fame, is the producer on this fine album. Giving it the warmness of any record he produces and those soft and delicate features of a SW production. This production is as fabulous as ever, allowing every instrument to be heard clearly in every song, and with so much going on, this was also in part to the mix that he provided as well, it gives you the opportunity to hear the vision the band was working to achieve. Also adding those famous progressive keyboards he's so famous for having on his work, adding that small flavor of psychedelia to an already progressive band's unique sound.
This is another album that I can't give enough praise to for being so different and reflective at the same time. Showing a sonic journey that hasn't been captured in perfection in a long time, while also showing you different sides to a single individual, or band. This record is firing on all cylinders and doesn't stop for an instant. Every song shows a different aspect to the Orphaned Land sound.
From the use of Arabian and Turkish insturments like the santur, shofar, nay, or kawala flutes to the use of violins, pianos, and more traditional percussion makes this album sound different. As already expressed by the band themselves, their music is to bridge the gaps made by religion and bring people together. The use of different culturally musical instruments allows people from the US to Israel to Iraq to Australia to Germany to understand the music and be brought together in unison.
The 8:30 minute centerpiece of the album, Disciples of The Secret Oath II, is the song that will be brought into a progressive classic on day. Taking a song from "El Norra Alila," their second album, and expanding upon it for this album. Mixing styles of folk, death and black metal, progressive rock, classical music, and almost hardcore chanting for a section, this song is a definitive piece of music.
The final aspect to this record is the fluidness of every track that leads into the next. This is once again thanks to SW's production and mix, but seamlessly melds all of these tracks into a single culmination piece of music. Though almost 80 minutes in length, if feels little longer than half an hour thanks to the strength of the songs themselves and the way the songs sound.
Overall, this record stands alone as a category of music unique to itself. No other album has as definitive a sound as this record does. From the concept to the sound of different colliding styles to the mix and production of it, this record comes to life and breathes life into the listener. This is a record that everyone must hear.
Overall Score: 10 - Classic
Highlights: Every Song Is A Highlight

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