ALBUM REVIEW: Orphaned Land – A Heaven You May Create


 

While entertainment of any description is clearly the very least important thing to be mentioned with regards to the Middle East at the moment, Israeli progressive folk metal act Orphaned Land couldn’t have landed on a more suitable time to deliver a further message of hope and unity.

Although bitterly relevant now, new live album A Heaven You May Create (Century Media Records) was actually recorded between lockdown periods during the Covid-19 pandemic, another and altogether different threat than the current crisis.

 

Playing to 2,500 people attending the Hall of Fame at the Heichal HaTarbut auditorium in Tel Aviv, the band originally intended the record to be a celebration of their 30th anniversary. And while the songs performed that evening were chosen with a more global danger in mind, the messages within the lyrics to each song are just as relevant – some even more so – to this latest terrible situation.

 

Comprising material from five of their six studio full length releases, the show kicks off with “Mabool,” the title track of their sophomore album lifted by the strings of the sixty piece orchestra, vocalist Kobi Farhi delivering a great opening performance with a combination of clean tones and gravel-throated snarls. The audience gets to participate on “The Storm Still Rages Inside,” the epic cut boasting some fine Iron Maiden style guitar work from Idan Amsalem and Chen Balbus.

 

“Like Orpheus” is sensational despite missing Blind Guardian singer Hansi Kürsch‘s vocal contribution. “Sapari” features a great performance from Scardust singer Noa Gruman, while “The Cave” and “In Propaganda” sound magnificent.

 

The pairing of “All Knowing Eye” and “Brother” quieten things down for a while, the latter hitting harder than ever before Kobi’s growled vocals return for “Birth of the Three” and a crushing version of “Ocean Land.”

 

“All Is One” sounds nothing short of incredible. “In Thy Never Ending Way” features another crowd sing-along and “Norra El Norra” concludes the show in the best possible way.

 

A fantastic performance bolstered by a great production, both the audience and the band really do sound like they’ve been kept apart for far too long. The orchestral contributions aren’t just there for flavouring but become an integral piece of certain songs, most notably on “In Thy Never Ending Way,” the original’s lonely piano outro forever changed into something more cinematic and expansive.

 

From the guitars and drums, the saz, oud and bouzouki, to Uri Zelcha‘s bass, every instrument is clear and pronounced, Kobi’s vocals always to the fore but never excessively dominant.

 

Perfectly capturing the band’s call for unity through music, A Heaven You May Create might have been meant for another time and purpose but the message still remains firmly the same.

 

Buy the album here:

https://orphaned-land.com/

 

9 / 10

GARY ALCOCK