Album Reviews

Orphaned Land – The Never Ending Way Of ORwarriOR

  • Review by: Ananth Bevinahally
The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR is the end result of a tantalizing five year wait and it hasn’t let me down one bit. Given Orphaned Land’s unique songwriting style, which comprises of the use of ethnic percussion and string instruments such as the oud, bazouki, santoor and darbukas along with an equally exquisite lyrical and conceptual content, it comes as no surprise that the whole process of releasing the album took way longer than anticipated. At 78 minutes, this has to be one of the longest albums that I’ve heard and I could barely spot any redundancy or ‘fillers’, with the bonus of having Steven Wilson’s stamp of approval, which is quite something.In many ways, it is very different from their previous release, ‘Mabool’, musically and conceptually. At this point, a tiny disclaimer, I’m not into the whole religion thing personally though it’s an inevitable thing in other parts of the world and Orphaned Land isn’t a whiny ‘The Lord’ll Bless You’ band. They are more into the spiritual aspect of religion, more so into anything non-fundamentalist as they preach about peace, nothing else. Mabool was all about exposing the oneness of the Abrahamic religions in a subtle way. ORwarriOR, literally, is the ‘Warrior of Light’. It’s about the journey that the ORwarriOR [a metaphor for pretty much anything/anyone really] undertakes through various conflicts to bring out an Elysium of sorts. Lyrically, they’ve gone quite explicit with their message, as indicated in the song ‘Disciples Of The Sacred Oath II’. Musically, I see a wider spectrum of instruments used, with quite a bit of Arabic violins and wind instruments such as the nay. I also notice their music drifting into a more progressive style.

           This musical voyage begins with a beautiful rendition of ‘Sapari’, a traditional Yeminite Jew song featuring the angelic voice of Shlomit Levi [the female vocalist who features prominently on Mabool as well]. This is quite a straightforward song but shows what metal can do to a folk song. With heavy, progressive, epic and mellow parts in virtually each and every song, there is something on offer for any discerning listener. Even the smaller songs such as ‘Bereft In The Abyss’ stand out and to reiterate what I’d said earlier, there is not one bit of music that I find forced out just for the sake of filling up the CD.

          The Path [both the parts] is incredible with some heavy riffing, oriental melodies, appropriate drumming [which enhances the rest of the sound as against drowning it with unrequited double bass] and long epic guitar solos. Kobi’s vocals deserve a special mention as I’ve personally never heard any other vocalist pulling off amazing growls, perfectly melodious clears, ethereal ambient chants and a strong narrative voice. ‘Disciples… ‘ deserves a second mention. The very fact that a Koran chant is used by an Israeli band is praiseworthy and it doesn’t sound one bit out of place. The Arabic violin in the part preceding the chant is stunning to say the least.  My only complaint in the entire album is that a very small bit of ‘From Broken Vessels’ is a little drab, the only glitch to an otherwise perfect song. But that killer recurring melody more than makes up for it.

           Mabool most definitely had a rather Doom-esque feeling so it’s quite surprising the myriad of emotions that ORwarriOR is able to evoke. There are bits of elation and introspection seconds away from each other. This pattern is seen in all of the six big songs. I recommend this album to a connoisseur of virtually any subgenre as one can find at least a bit to interest them. People who like this must give ‘Arkan’, a French band a listen. It’s somewhat ironical that the first bit of ORwarriOR exposed to the public [as an intro on their website] is also the last bit of music on the album. This musical journey begins and ends ‘In Thy Never Ending Way’, hence the cycle continues, and trust me, it keeps you hooked.