“Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Not quite sure what to make of this epic. My opinion changes every time I hear it. I think it is better if you think of Orphaned Land not just as a metal band, but also as a progressive rock band with a ton of Middle Eastern and world music influence. For sure this is going to be too melodic for a wide swath of metalheads, with tons of authentic Middle Eastern instruments being used in addition to the usual weapons of rock. But if you happen to like music with an Arabic or oriental flavor as I do, it has a strong appeal.

This is quite a long album and in fact its length might work against it in the long run. It’s a lot to digest and the songs begin to run together a bit. The Middle Eastern influence is deeply embedded in all 13 songs, there is no escaping it. Sometimes it overwhelms the rock aspect, like on “Yedidi” and “Prophets of Prophetic Messianism”. But there are tracks that are pretty heavy, although none could be called thrash or death metal. Towards the end of the album, “Left Behind”, “My Brother’s Keeper” and “Only the Dead Have Seen The End of War” have a riffy, guitar-based approach. And the album tends to be better with the shorter, punchier tunes. The almost 10 minute “Chains Fall To Gravity” is just too soft and lightweight for me. And the lead male vocals are never more than average.

But there are points where the swirling mix of Middle Eastern folk, heavy metal and prog rock becomes an intoxicating stew. It’s music with some thought behind it and more than just sheer aggression. It teeters on the verge of collapsing under its own weight and becoming a grandiose musical epic. Where you will fall on that scale is up to your taste. One things for sure, this band is absolutely doing their own thing.