Album number six sees the Israeli multi-faith metallic prophets of peace reunite with producer Jens Bogren as they continue to expand their sound and reach out into a brave new world.
As is now standard, Orphaned Land’s message is one of unity and peace in a troubled region of the world. This mantra has brought them many awards both for their creative musicianship and also their desire to unite rather than to divide the multi-religious factions in their homeland and the Middle East in general.
Everything the band do has their homeland’s cultural musical identity woven carefully into the fabric of their songs, celebrating the rich diversity of their native land. Just like Black Sabbath sounded like a band birthed in the industrial heartland of middle England so to Orphaned Land take their inspiration and sound directly from the very soil they tread. Perhaps not outstanding a trait in itself but it is rare these days how often one gets to say that about a band.
If Gary Numan’s recent eastern-flavoured Savage album was a desert filled peak into the dystopian future then this album offers a more hopeful and alternative view of what could potentially lie in store.
Like no other the band manage to reach both extremities in their sound with the same ease and confidence. At times sounding brutal and ferocious and anything but peaceful, listen to Kobi Farhi’s growling menace on “We Do Not Resist” for example.
There are a handful of tracks on this album that stand side by side with the best the band have done to date. Namely the opening track “The Cave” with it’s haunting introduction leading into swaying and rhythmic journey from the darkness into the light.
Another track that brings the best out in the band is the rolling sandy dunes of “In Propaganda” which evokes the full range of emotions in one three minute progressive slice of subtle complexity.
The longest, and arguably most impressive, track on the album is the nine minute intricate majesty of “Chains Fall To Gravity”. The opening is light enough but there is a brooding presence from the start that takes a while to reveal itself and when it does it is taken up a level into a maelstrom of foreboding and soul searching that eventually settles and reassures.
There are star guests a-plenty on this release as the likes of former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, who pays back the favour Fahri did for him on his own album The Night Siren, joins At The Gates frontman Tomas Lindberg and Hansi Kursch of Blind Guardian in adding their heavyweight musical nous into the mix.
“My Brother’s Keeper” employs spoken word verses which gives another dimension to the band’s approach, coupled with classical riffage and occasional raw fury, which proves they can be many things all at once.
Album closer “The Manifest – Epilogue” owes as much to Pink Floyd and Orchestral Metal as it does to their homeland. However, it neatly sums up what the band have been at pains to express in the previous twelve tracks.
There is a sincerity and meaning about the band’s music that is impossible to ignore and adds weight to their considerable technical skills. This is another chapter in the book of Orphaned Land that deserves to be read again and again and shows the band are growing in strength as they continue their journey to peace.
Donnie’s Rating: 9/10
Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs is released on the 26th January through Century Media Records.