Orphaned Land has always reached for something meaningful with their music.
Not the usual violent, fantastical or necessarily political output of counterparts in the metal and prog musical worlds, their output has always struck this listener as something more human, usually based on breaking barriers between fans of music around the globe.
This album is no different with vocalist and band visionary Kobi Farhi taking the concept from the philosopher Plato’s text The Allegory of the Cave, a story that at its core spoke of government and religious control of the masses and turning people against each other for political and personal gain. Heavy stuff then.
‘The Cave’ opens the concept with Kobi making Plato’s story his own in brilliant prog metal fashion, throwing in some Middle Eastern flavour and guitars very reminiscent of Dream Theater in tone. Opening an album with an eight minute track can be a risk, but the course the song takes makes it pass by very fast and really sets the scene.
‘We Do Not Resist’ notches the intensity up with the vocals taking a far more gruff approach – very fitting as the song pushes our journey further into how the modern news media keeps us blind to the chaos and destruction on going in the Middle East. Like I said earlier, heavy stuff.
The more soothing tones and great use of strings and Middle Eastern instrumentation of ‘In Propaganda’ shows the depth of the band behind the vocalist. As the same feeling seeps into ‘All Knowing Eye’ that holds a beautiful melody as vocals croon over the top, the intense opening of the album feels washed away with something far more comforting. This calmness lingers through the middle of the album. Steve Hackett of Genesis unleashes a brilliant guitar solo on ‘Chains Fall To Gravity’ while ‘Yedidi’ is sung in Farhi’s native tongue. Hansi Kürsch is used to great effect, soaring above the music swirling below on ‘Like Orpheus’ that segues into ‘Poets of Prophetic Messianism’ that can only be described as beautiful and cinematic, with up front use of Middle Eastern instrumentation and a choir.
Orphaned Land push their prog metal predilections in all directions, testing the cinematic scope of their music. Towards the end of this epic album is where this story finds its dark heart. ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ discusses the loss of messiahs through the ages while ‘Only the Dead Have Seen the End of War’ sees the band return to their long lost death metal roots with a modern approach and the help of Tomas Lindberg’s distinctive dry roar, helping to book-end the album with the ferocity with which it starts, a point that is driven home with album closer ‘The Manifest – Epilogue’ that fades out with George Orwell’s Final Warning sample.
This album cannot be recommended enough for the twists and turns and instrumentation brilliance. As well, Orphaned Land continue to use their musical platform to show tolerance to all people, and teach us that as humans, we are destined to continue in our warlike ways if we continue fall victim to ignorance. Heavy stuff indeed, and not just musically so.
1. The Cave
2. We Do Not Resist
3. In Propaganda
4. All Knowing Eye
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