Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Orphaned Land - "All Is One" [2013]

Artist: Orphaned Land
Title: All Is One
Genre: Folk/Progressive Metal
Country: Israel
Year: 2013

Track List:
  1. All Is One
  2. The Simple Man
  3. Brother
  4. Let The Truce Be Known
  5. Through Fire And Water
  6. Fail
  7. Freedom
  8. Shama’im
  9. Ya Benaye
  10. Our Own Messiah
  11. Children
Orphaned Land are arguably the best known metal band from Israel, the seminal band for the whole "oriental metal" subgenre, and also the band that introduced metal to the Arab world. Like most other people, I started listening to them from "MaboolThe Story of the Three Sons of Seven" (2004), but for those who are new to the band, I'd recommend to start from this album, as it's the most accessible out of all their discography.

Initially, in mid-90s, their music was rooted in death/doom metal, a genre which was popular at the time, but like many other such bands, they moved towards much "lighter" sound over the years. The lyrical themes have changed as well, from Middle Eastern mythology to pacifism (well, no arguing that the Middle East definitely needs some peace, especially these days). "All Is One" is ostensibly simplistic and less "progressive" than their other works (and that's why many diehard Orphaned Land fans disliked it), yet on a closer look, it's far from simplistic, and features a lot of oriental folk instruments that normally aren't found in metal. Some songs like "Shama’im" sound like radio-friendly rock rather than metal, but there's nothing to complain since this song is great (just like most songs composed by Yehuda Poliker). However, there also are heavier but no less catchy songs like "Fail" (maybe the best track on the whole album), and songs strongly influenced by Arabic folk music ("Ya Benaye"). Overall, all the songs are great, except maybe for the opening and the closing track being slightly weaker than the rest. It already was extensively reviewed all over the internet, so do I need to say more? Let's quote some reviews from
"Basically, what I feel like happened here is that Orphaned Land started taking their role as Jew-Arab peace envoys more seriously than their role as a metal band. Instead of abstract mythological lyrics, you get stuff like "It doesn't matter if you're Muslim or a Jew!" I'm glad a bunch of atheists can get religious idiots to quit killing each other and listen to the same band, and I wish them the best of luck with that"
"If you pay a little more attention, you will notice a myriad of instruments that you'll hardly ever find in metal: Oud, saz, chumbush, bouzouki, and even xylophone. These instruments play haunting, captivating melodies in what I would usually refer to as the "snake-charmer" style, an intense mixture of harmonic minor and Phrygian dominant scales which creates some of the most awe-inspiring tunes ever written. The music has a strong progressive influence; the title track itself is in 7/8 time signature, and many other such changes are displayed throughout the album (most notably in the instrumental "Freedom")... Some of the best melodies in all of metal are found on All Is One, especially in "The Simple Man," "Brother," "Let the Truce Be Known" and "שמיים (Shama'im)." Orphaned Land's All Is One is certainly not a conventional metal album, and I don't expect most people to regard it as highly as I do. Personally, I find that the melodies amount to perfection when combined with such unique lyrics. This may not be the sound that Orphaned Land is most respected for, but it sure is amazing anyway"

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