Orphaned Land – All is One

Like many in the west, my first exposure to Orphaned Land was Sam Dunn‘s documentary “Global Metal”, where he showed this band that, despite coming from Israel and playing heavy metal, presented a message of peace and unity in an otherwise war-torn region; Yet, for whatever reason, I had forgotten about them until I saw them again at the PPM 2013 and conducted what would become a very memorable interview with Kobi, the lead singer.

In All is One Orphaned Land have made some important changes (and, as a result, taken some big risks) to their style, departing from the progressive elements that were commonplace in their music as well as from most of the harsh vocals. Some people, perhaps understandably, have criticized this shift as selling out, turning mainstream or, quite simply, bending under label pressure. In my opinion, and accepting up front that my guesses as to the inner workings of the band and the label are as good as any, this isn’t accurate; if anything, it feels that All is One, regardless of the rhythm and tempo of the songs is, quite simply, a quintessential Orphaned Land record.

I was recently talking about black metal with Morgan Hakansson, the founder of Marduk; According to him, black metal is something that goes beyond the distorted (and usually awfully produced) guitars and the growling, being mostly about the content of the music (in that case, satanism, rebellion, dark arts, etc.). This principle is, mutatis mutandis, applicable to Orphaned Land, in the sense that this is a band that cannot be defined only by its sound, but also, and perhaps especially, by their content and their message; in this case a message of unity and hope and, at the same time, a message of anger and desperation.

While Arabic influences play a pivotal role in this record, as it is clear in songs like “All is One”, “Simple Man” and, especially, “Shama’im” and “Ya Benaye”, Orphaned Land still pay homage to their heavier side with Fail” (the only track in which Kobi gets to use his growling voice) and even plays with some symphonic elements by bringing a full chorus into the title track.

Still, the album’s strength is in its lyrical content. Be it Kobi‘s lamentation at the hatred between Jews and Muslims in “Brother” or the infant victims in “Children”, the anger spouted against politicians and false idols in “Simple Man” or the  message of “Who cares if you’re a Muslim or a Jew” in the very sorrowful “All is One”, Orphaned Land did not limit themselves to write music, but rather went and created (or perhaps continued) a manifesto.

While I don’t have the same hope that Kobi has as to how music can change the world 1)I tend to think that complying with Resolution 242 and the ICJ’s 2004 Advisory Opinion would work better All is One is perhaps a good step in that direction.

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References   [ + ]

1. I tend to think that complying with Resolution 242 and the ICJ’s 2004 Advisory Opinion would work better
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Considered by his mother as the brightest and prettiest boy, J's interest in metal started in his early teens, listening to bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica (coupled with an embarrassing period in which Marilyn Manson "totally represents me, man") eventually moving into the realm of power, black, and death metal. He is a practicing attorney, and a lecturer on commercial law. He is also a terrible guitar player and martial artist, and someone who enjoys coming up with excuses as to why he has to miss work after going to a concert. He also dabbles as a concert photographer, you can see his sub-par work on his instagram.