It’s been eight years since ORPHANED LAND had released their outstanding “El Norra Alila“ album, back then still via Holy Records. Despite many announcements and a long silence the only sign of life had been the re-release of the demo “The Beloved’s Cry” and a limited DigiPak of the debut “Sahara” with three bonus tracks. I have to admit that I had already feared the band dead, luckily wrongly as I would see in 2003.
They signed with Century Media and that alone was the first really big surprise already, because I had been more than convinced of the quality of ORPHANED LAND ever since “Sahara”, but as far as the commercial potential goes, I was not that sure, because all too often really original bands are left out more or less criminally. Well, with trembling hands I waited for the day that I would find “Mabool (The Story Of The Three Sons Of Seven)“ in my mailbox and then it finally was the case…
Who has never heard of ORPHANED LAND and also hasn’t read my reviews yet (shame on you!), her a bit about them: Formed in 1991 as RESURRECTION, they renamed to ORPHANED LAND in 1992 and released the already mentioned demo “The Beloved’s Cry” in 1993, which brought them a deal with French label Holy Records right away, which led into the release of “Sahara” 1994 and “El Norra Alila” 1996. 1997 it went really quiet around them, as I had already said, as the band members had to fight problems in their home country and the big fan following in Arabic countries was one of the factors that helped the band to stand it through.
That “Mabool-The Story Of The Three Sons Of Seven“ is not just a simple and normal album is already shown in the fact that besides instruments such as Saz, Bouzouki and Oud there were more than 30 guest musicians, among them a percussionist and a complete oriental choir. Even on India’s streets musicians have been recorded, so singer Kobi Farhi. Additionally they do not only do one language, no, no, English, Hebrew, Arabic, Yemenite and Latin, plus Gibberish, an artificial language that ORPHANED LAND members have conceived, this alone already shows the monumental proportions of this album.
And as they had already been at it to create something really original, the Israelis gave “MaboolMabool (The Story Of The Three Sons Of Seven)“ an highly interesting concept, equally complex and fascinating. For this I best quote the info: “It is starting with the birth of the three heroes, then describes their whole journey including all their adventures and finally ends with the flood which fills, covers and destroys the sinful Orphaned Land by a raging storm. The three heroes are the Snake, the Eagle and the Lion (check their sign, the triangle of the three which will be included in the artwork of the album) and they are described as the sons of Seven. They are the sons of the three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) and despite the war of beliefs running in today's reality the heroes to prevent more bloodshed. Sadly their mission fails and thus they have to face the flood”. Got something, eh?
OK, after this pretty extensive introduction, let’s move on towards the music and it is at least as breath taking and monumental as the surroundings and can hardly be measured with common, well, measures, as rhythmic and melodies sound so unusual to “Western” ears that they are hard to be put into a global context. Just as difficult or even impossible to pick out a single song as all twelve tracks are very different from each other, but at the same time are woven together on a different level and together with the lyrics tell a story as I honestly have never heard it before…
Already the opener “Birth Of The Three (The Unification)“ bears a majesty and size, with traditional instruments, extremely varied vocals (Death Metal growls, great clean vocals, female vocals, oriental choirs), unorthodox rhythmic and great melodies, gripping arrangement, a song as it could hardly be picked better to open up an album. And this truly unique atmosphere threads through all the songs, never repeating itself, but always amalgamating the traditional folklore of Israel and Arabia with Progressive Metal, yes even some Death and Black Metal in different shadings, without ever sounding forced or confusing, incredible!
The songs are energetic and relaxing, emotional and gripping, foreign, but not scaring, each for itself a little masterpiece that weaves the most different elements together in truly masterful fashion to create a unique sound experience that in this case you really have to have heard yourself to understand or believe. Therefore I won’t mention any other song as each of them alone stands far apart already and can more than just convince and could, no, should be used as a check out tip!
“Sahara“ had been a very good and interesting album, “El Norra Alila” was an outstanding piece that combined the cultures and all this now is almost perfected with “Mabool-The Story Of The Three Sons Of Seven“ one of the very few albums of our time that can definitely claim to be unique. Forget comparisons, because there are none, ORPHANED LAND in every way are a class for themselves, musically, lyrically, ideologically. My biggest respect goes out to the gentlemen Yossi Saharon (Sassi), Matti Svatizki, Kobi Farhi, Uri Zelcha, Eden Rabin and Avi Daimond!
To describe ORPHANED LAND with five words only is indeed easier than with many: Innovative, courageous, unique, monumental, ingenious! A very, very hot contender for the award “album of the year”! (Online March 5, 2004)