On February 2004, the Israeli “Oriental Metal” band, Orphaned Land, released their third album entitled “Mabool.” Orphaned Land started in 1991 and has grown enormously over the years with their eclectic music that combines religious and philosophic views and beliefs. They have built a strong dedicated following amongst the Muslim and Arabian people regardless of their political and cultural conflicts. The band merges together ancient and customary styles of folk and metal music, alongside religious concepts such as Judaism, Islam, and Christianity: all together combining to form a fascinating cultural feast for the ears.
I cannot simply classify this album as one genre because every song is completely different from the next. After listening to this album straight through the first time, I knew I just heard something truly special. The album refers to the biblical legend of Noah’s ark and the great flood that came. This album flows beautifully into one another and naturally from Arabic folk and female and male chanting and then progresses into heavy guitar riffs and growls ever so effortlessly.
The first song “Birth of the three (the unification)” alerted my attention when the beginning wasn’t normal head-banging guitar riffs but, instead, little kids chanting. It made me interested in what was going on and then the heavy stuff hit, when Yossi Sassi Sa’aron guitar melody comes into play. In spite of the clear and concise vocals by Kobi Farhi, the song is actually really aggressive and a great opening track to get to know the sound of the band.
It is followed by “Ocean Land (The Revelation),” which is probably one of the best songs in my opinion, being that I played it over and over again. The song begins with rapid pace sitar strumming leading into the opening death growls. The chorus to the song is beautifully done. The vocals and lyrics are neat and organized; I never had to question what they were singing or chanting about. It’s a perfect combination of heavy death metal, gorgeous choir vocals, and a musical solo from each band member showing off that this band has real talent.
One of the harsher and heavier songs offered is “The Kiss of Babylon (The Sins).” It progresses into a solo from a female vocalist that doesn’t lose the intenseness that the song provides. While this is one of the heavier tracks, it still contains some pretty-sounding vocal accompaniment, it serves as a major contrast to the fourth track, “A’salk.” That track features the female vocalist followed by traditional folk instruments and tribal drums during the song.
The album undergoes a major tansformation midway through with “Building the Ark.” The extreme and severe riffs and melodies heard in the first half of “Mabool” seem to come to a halt and then display the softer and imaginative side of the band musically. The whole entire album just does a great job at complimenting each song with all of the others. The best example of this is the way “Building the Ark” flows magnificently into “Norra El Norra (Entering the Ark),” representing both the literal and musical transitions.
Another example, is the intense 10th track “Mabool (The Flood),” which pours and runs smoothly like a river’s current into “The Storm Rages Inside.” These two songs were made for each other. Even though “Mabool (The Flood)” is so intense with harsh male vocals that could wake someone up from a deep slumber, the prior track, “The Calm Before the Flood,” is a beautiful instrumental piece that captures the true talent of the band as a whole.
“Rainbow (The Resurrection)” is an astonishing cease to “Mabool.” Its beauty captivates the entirety of the album with birds chirping and a nice peaceful acoustic guitar. Quite a change from the death growls of the other songs.
This album is a diverse piece of artwork in itself and every aspect of this collection of songs is distinctive to the band’s sound. The album is a religious and musical journey that doesn’t force the bands beliefs on anyone. “Mabool” is everything I expected and nothing I have heard before from a metal band. This is truly a one of a kind album.
[box] Click here to check out the Offical Orphaned Land video for the 2nd track from “Mabool,” “Ocean Land (The Revelation).” [/box]