Welcome to Orphaned Land's fifth studio album 'All Is One' and get prepared to be stunned by this release. I have delved in and out of this bandís career over the last 19 years, being uplifted at times and nonplussed at others, but mostly giving them huge credit for persevering in what must be extremely difficult circumstances. If you don't know then Orphaned Land are from Israel and they play melodic death, black and progressive metal, which has seen them unable to play live in any Muslim country other than Turkey. Rather than fall by the wayside, they have continued to grow, not only expanding their fan base in the Middle East but in all corners of the globe.
It is three years since their last release, 'The Never Ending Way Of ORWarriOR', which I liked without loving. However, 'All Is One' absolutely trumps that album. In fact, it is easily the best album Orphaned Land have ever released and is absolutely certain to raise their profile even further. I have noticed in recent years that many bands in the genres mentioned above seem to be maturing and perhaps releasing still very heavy albums but which have upped the melody quota. Arch Enemy and Turisas immediately spring to mind and Orphaned Land appear to have done a similar thing.
'All Is One' is still instantly recognisable as an Orphaned Land album; no other band uses Arabian musical influences and political lyrics quite like them but, this time around, the harsh vocals of Kobi Farhi have all but vanished. The songs, which are still intricately played, are more structurally direct and the choruses and melodies contained within are just beautiful to behold. This is easily the most accessible they have sounded (even reminding me of an Arabic Jethro Tull in places). Of course, I suspect some diehard fans will bemoan the fact that most death metal aspects have been toned down but, for me, this is a wonderful album that has easily gone into my top ten releases of the year so far. Along with Farhi, Uri Zelha (bass), Yossi Sassi (guitars, bouzouki & cumbus), Chen Balbus (guitars, glockenspiel, keyboards & programming) and Matan Shmuely (drums), along with a 25 member choir and 8 classical violin, viola and cello players, have created eleven tracks and nearly fifty-five minutes of sublime music that have completely captured my imagination and inspiration. Lyrics, once again very politically hard hitting, but never taking a particular side, are emotional, beautifully written and full of common sense. And the mix, supplied by Jens Bogren (Kreator, Amon Amarth, Opeth, Devin Townsend Project, James LaBrie) is class personified. I cannot single out individual tracks because that would be a disservice to the album as a whole.
If you've heard of Orphaned Land before, or indeed listened to any of their material and haven't been sure because of the harsh vocals, then I urge you to seek out 'All Is One' and give them a second chance. Alternatively, if you have been a long time fan of the band then I urge you to embrace this more melodic direction because this really is an album that deserves to be heard by all of you.
ALL IS ONE
Review by Rick Tilley
24th June 2013
1) All is One
2) The Simple Man
4) Let the Truce Be Known
5) Through Fire and Water
9) Ya Benaye
10) Our Own Messiah
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...easily the best album Orphaned Land have ever released..."