Review Summary: Orphaned Land returns with a record that, while not as impressive as their past works, is enjoyable none the less and maintains their signature sound superbly.
In an age where originality is in danger of practically going extinct, there are fewer and fewer active bands that can truly claim to be pioneers. Most bands simply adopt a formula, tweak it to their liking, and then allow themselves to fall into a muck of other artists that sound the exact same. This isn't to say that their music is bad, it could easily be quite the opposite. However there's something to be said about a band that releases a sound that has never been heard before. Orphaned Land
is one of the rare few that have crafted a sound so unique it has become a genre unto itself. With their past masterpieces Malbool
and The Never Ending Way Of ORwarriOR
safely in tow, they have carved themselves a niche genre in the metal community know as oriental metal. Fusing middle-eastern folk music with their own blend of metal, they have crafted themselves a sound that is both instantly recognisable and undeniably their own.
All Is One
picks up right where The Never Ending Way Of ORwarriOR left off, maintaining and in some ways even enhancing Orphaned Land's signature sound. Melodies that combine Jewish and Arabic folk music are fused with crushing guitar riffs and thunderous drums. Violins and bouzouki's play in unison while a choir chants over their soaring sounds. Orphaned Land does a lot right here on All Is One.
Their song writing has never been stronger and instrumentally, they are as enjoyable to listen to as ever. Kobi Farhi's vocals are excellent. He pours his soul into each and every song, with Brother
being of particular note. Brother is a fantastic ballad that is as moving a piece of music as I've ever heard from this group, while Fail makes fantastic use of only death metal growls to be heard on the album. There's so much good to be found on Orphaned Land's new album that it's hard to find fault with any particular song. Yet when the final track comes to a close, All Is One
leaves the listener feeling a tad underwhelmed.
Orphaned Land's records have always been more than just a collection of songs. They have been cohesive works of art that tell stories of heroes and devils, gods and men. Mabool
is a concept album that provides a very different experience when listened to beginning to end. While these masterpieces have normally taken Orphaned Land ages to create (6 years per record, on average) All Is One
comes only three years after their last offering. The album drops the concept approach, and instead gives us a compilation of songs that sing about peace, freedom, and equality. Each song is finely crafted, but experiencing the album as a whole doesn't give the same sense of wonder or satisfaction as its predecessors. There are also problems with the albums flow. The cohesiveness of a concept album is not present on All Is One,
and the stark contrast between crushing metal riffs and soothing folk music isn't as prominent as it was on previous records. This is in part due to the lack of growls. While a record without growls is perfectly fine, the lack of play between heavy and mellow vocals makes Orphaned Land's latest offering considerably less dynamic than before.
Orphaned Land's newest record delivers a smorgasbord of finely crafted, folky metal tunes, but as a whole doesn't reach the same heights as their last two albums. Their signature sound is intact, however, and their song writing is more top notch than ever. If anything, enjoying this record makes me anticipate their coming works with great exuberance. A combination of the stellar musicianship found here with the incredible scale and pace of their previous records could easily be their crowning achievement, and if it takes seven years to complete, so be it! I'll be here waiting.