Four and a half years have passed since the release of 'All is One', and Orphaned Land have returned with a new full-length studio album, 'Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs'. Founding members, vocalist Kobi Farhi and bassist Uri Zelcha, and their current Israeli musical brethren (drummer Matan Shmuely and guitarists Chen Balbus and Idan Amsalem) have delivered a work of exotic prog wonderment, compelling emotional beauty and creative ingenuity.
An album said to be "fuelled by righteous anger at the state of humanity in 2017", it's bitingly scathing in both narratives and some of the songs' more heavy and furious moments, as both didactic and polemic meet head-on, in cognitively provocative verse. Yet, it also has many moments of melancholic lamentation, and glimpses of optimism amidst the anguish and sorrow. So, emotional heterogeneity is the key here. Not only that, but all the emotional twists and turns in the compositions have depth, breadth and passion that Orphaned Land seem to have pulled off with consummate ease.
There are rare few bands who stand tall on their own creatively original terms. Orphaned Land remain incomparable in 2018. The proof is here on 'Unsung Prophets...'. Of course, they're not the only band to blend Western/Eastern influences through the medium of music... although they are the maestros. Exotic metal hegemonists, if you will (or 'Oriental Metal' by their own, self-proclaimed reckoning).
Mystical, majestic and musically magnificent, 'Unsung Prophets...' is near perfection. I'll even forgive them for the intro to the album's opening track, 'The Cave', which sounds ever so familiar. A quick trawl through my music memory palace revealed it's overwhelmingly reminiscent of a piece from Billy Corgan and Mike Garson's soundtrack to the 1999 Rupert Wainwright movie, 'Stigmata' (a recurring motif in the pair's score, but features prominently in 'Await/Reflect'). Oh well, coincidence, I'm sure.
Featuring some tasty guest spots from Steve Hackett, Blind Guardian's Hansi Kürsch and At The Gates' Tomas Lindberg, and a series of adroitly composed/arranged songs, 'Unsung Prophets...' is stylistically, emotionally and creatively compelling; an innovative and exotic metal offering of epic proportions.
UNSUNG PROPHETS & DEAD MESSIAHS
Review by Mark Holmes
26th January 2018
1) The Cave
2) We Do Not Resist
3) In Propaganda
4) All Knowing Eye; 5) Yedidi
6) Chains Fall to Gravity
7) Like Orpheus
8) Poets of Prophetic Messianism
9) Left Behind; 10) My Brother's Keeper
11) Take My Hand
12) Only the Dead Have Seen the End of War
13) The Manifest - Epilogue
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...a work of exotic prog wonderment, compelling emotional beauty and creative ingenuity."