Review Summary: Mabool this is not – it doesn’t have to be.
Orphaned Land has had a tumultuous career, and a variable roller coaster of album qualities to go with it. At a most obvious level, fans will compare records past and present (as well as those not yet made) to their opus Mabool
. Fairly, it’s a strong starting point for new listeners, providing an instant ceiling for where Orphaned Land’s music should be but unfairly it creates a blinding experience in regards to the band’s new music. Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs
is excellent, not because of Orphaned Land’s past records but simply because it stands alone as a profound, modern day melodic experience dabbling in Orphaned Land’s signature folk soundscapes.
For those new to Orphaned Land, there’s always been a general consensus that they will “never release another Mabool
”. Various line-up changes have marred the band’s catalogue, shedding light on some problems found on previous records. Since the early nighties Orphaned Land have been fighting for recognition, restrained by their own take on Middle Eastern based melodic metal, while staying true to their own brand of accessible, quality melodic based metal and despite the unpreventable comparisons to the band’s (arguably) best album, Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs
is a welcome addition to modern day metal, and a worthy successor to Mabool
Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs
is a sixty-three minute foray into Israeli oriental melodic death metal, full of highlights built off Orphaned Land’s already definable soundscape. Opening the record is ‘The Cave’ where Kobi brings his usual clean vocal styles but also an improved growl (if used less frequent than most would prefer) that ties in with some expertly added choir passages providing true depth to Orphaned Land’s new music. All in all it’s not a too far away ask from the “traditional” Orphaned Land fans have come to recognise, only in 2018 the band is coming back full circle, even at the loss of a prominent guitarist in Yossi Saharon (this is the first record without Yossi).
As a whole, Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs
has a real depth, Kobi uses his harsh vocals sparingly highlighting a primal rage only where context suits. The rest of the band then echoes his aggression instrumentally, telling a tale of mistrust in the media shown in ‘We Do Not Resist’. The music contrasts from dark and foreboding, to accessible and enchanting leaning into the oriental, folk sections that have helped defined Orphaned Land’s sound over the course of the last two (plus) decades. Contrast between tracks can be found, teasing at the listeners’ ability to combine light and dark. Tracks like ‘In Propaganda’ showcase a rather cinematic, orchestral feel giving extra life to Orphaned Land’s folk-y soundscape. In places, Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs
becomes laden with nuances often found on a typical progressive rock album, while tying in with choir sections, bombarding instrumentals and excellently used native instruments and various guest appearances. Every component finds balance within the record’s tracks, often building on the very building blocks of what’s already there. For those worried about a downward spiral of quality on Orphaned Land’s 2018 effort, you’ll only find tid-bits of over-blown folk or slightly underdone melo-death.
Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs
is a balanced, well-thought record giving an unparalleled appreciation of culture, religion, socio-politics and historic mythic within their sonic recipe for writing music. The album remains catchy and accessible even with repeated listens, allowing for maximum enjoyment as a standalone record. Understandably, listeners may find discomfort in finding an album not marked “Mabool Pt. 2
” but, Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs
continues to move this promising band forward into successful modern day metal appealing to metal fans across a broad number of sub-genres. Orphaned Land has released a strong record for 2018 without forgetting how they got to where they are.