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Orphaned Land - The storm still rages (Matti Svatizky) - Online Jun. 2004

Hi there, Alex from "The Metal Observer" here, how are things in the ORPHANED LAND camp?


Hey Alex and all the readers, this is Matti, ORPHANED LAND's guitarist. Things in the camp are swell, couldn't be better actually. It is holiday here in Israel now, the Passover, not that it means much to me, but you just can't escape the holiday spirit here, and it's kind of neat, kind of relaxing you could say. :)


It's been eight years since the release of "El Norra Alila". During this time, I had already thought you guys had split up. What happened since the release of "El Norra Alila"?


You weren't the only person who thought that we have split up, many did. There where times that if you told me that ORPHANED LAND will get back to playing music together, it would have been very hard for me to believe you. When we took that break, we took it from everything, not only from OL. We took a break from an old lifestyle, that OL was one of its outcomes. It is true that we have left the Metal scene and wandered into other territories. We have also had some "internal" problems (I guess that they all have them), and they effected also, but the thing that effected the most was the fact that every member took a very different direction from the other. We were also very young during the "Sahara" and "El Norra Alila" times (17/18 years old), and needed more space to make decisions that would effect our future, I think that it is blessed that we did not rush into anything.


"Mabool" is based upon a pretty intricate and intriguing story. The basic story stems from The Bible, could you please tell us a bit more about it?


The concept story of the album is about 3 characters that together have a vision of a great flood which will be coming upon the earth in order to destroy it, to wash all mankind from it because of its sins, kind of like the famous biblical "Noah's ark" flood. These characters represent the 3 major monotheistic religions.


I guess that the songs are all continuous parts of the story, could you maybe give us a little bit on each song?


Each song on the album deals with another part of the concept story. The first song is a little bit of an exposition to the story. It speaks of the conditions and circumstances of the heavenly birth of the story's heroes. The 2nd song speaks of the vision of the flooded land that they see. The 3rd and 4th songs speak about the horrible and devastating sins of mankind. The 5th song deals with the anger of the creator, when he sees that man has corrupted the land. The 6th song speaks of a quest which was made by our heroes, in order to try and convince the inhabitants of planet earth to repent and "turn to the light", an unsuccessful quest. The 7th song is about the work that has been done while our heroes built the ark. The 8th song is about the prayer which was sung while our heroes entered the ark. The 9th is an instrumental song and it is the silence that fell upon the earth on the night before the flood. The 10th and 11th songs deal with the flood itself and the last song is about the silence that fell upon the earth after the flood was over.


You use English, Hebrew, Yemenite, Latin, Arabic and Gibberish vocals. How did you piece all the different languages together?


The album is mostly sung in English. After all, we do wish that people would understand what we are talking about and will be communicative with the lyrics. However, due to all the folkloric influences we have in our music, it seems "right" to integrate, next to English, some other languages, that go well with the music and also sound more exotic and unique. The use of these languages comes mostly from our musical influences. Many of the bands that play folklore music stay loyal to the original language of the style they are playing, even if it's not their mother tongue. It is nice to listen to more authentic stuff every now and then, not many in our genre do this, and we are glad that there is cooperation from our audience to it too.


Gibberish apparently is a language that ORPHANED LAND members have invented. What kind of a language is it and how did you go about it?


Gibberish is a well known term. It is not a language that we invented. (You can check any dictionary for this word). It means that you speak words that have no real meaning, and not many refer to Gibberish as a language at all. However, Kobi does sing words that he invented, but they have no meaning, they're "Gibberish". If he would be singing words that he invented and that had some meaning, it wouldn't be Gibberish anymore, and then it would be a language that we invented, and would have a different name. Gibberish refers only to words that are non-sense.


How did you approach the whole process, both conceptually and musically?


I think that we tried to get as professional as we could, on “Mabool”. Every little detail counted, we tried not to let anything slip between our fingers. We have rehearsed much and didn't go into studio until we felt everything was tight and well played. The work on “Mabool”, both conceptually and musically started way back, right after our previous album, "El Norra Alila", was released. This gave us much time to be selective about what comes into the album and what doesn't, and also much time to digest and comprehend what we are trying to do and to decide the best ways to do it.


How did you approach the recording process with the complexity and size of the compositions?


We worked step by step, never rushed things out. Everything had to sound like we had in mind, so we had to work hard on the pre-production stage and rehears a lot, so eventually when we got into studio there was less time to waste.


So how did the recordings themselves go? Any interesting stories you could share with us and our readers?


The recordings periods are always the best times which I like the most. It has been very exhausting, we sometimes didn't sleep for whole nights, or got a 1 hour sleep on some nights, but we didn't complain, because we knew that we are working on something that is very important for us and very worthwhile.

There have been many funny stories during the recordings, OL are all hilarious guys, but no 1 particular story comes into mind now, sorry. L


You even recorded musicians on the streets of India, how did that come to pass?


Kobi did that. He even recorded himself chanting in the Taj-Mahal, even though it is illegal there. You can hear these chanting in the end of the song "Oceanland". I guess that he just hanged around there with his DAT recorder, looking for some interesting and authentic stuff to record, and as I know him, I know that he had “Mabool” in mind all the time, even though it was almost impossible even to dream about recording an album then (the band not being together and all), but he did, he believed, and that is one of the main reasons we are together today. 


There are more than 30 guest musicians on the album, how did you get in touch with them all?


Some of them we know from previous work with them, like the percussionist and Shlomit (our female vocalist), some we were introduced to by 3rd parties, when we said we were looking for certain musicians, and the choir (15 participants) and the cello and the violin players, Eden, our keyboards player, introduced to us, since he worked with them before. Our current drummer, Avi Diamond, is also considered as a guest musician on the album btw.


Where do you draw your inspirations from to create your compositions?


Our inspirations come mostly from artists that we listen to. It could be artists from many genres; I don't think that you can name a genre that we don't draw inspirations from. 


How do you think you will be able to transfer the music of "Mabool" into a live setting?


We try to play most of the instruments ourselves on stage, and have the guest musicians perform with us, but when this is not possible we have a computer on stage, which plays the parts that are missing. We have tried it a couple of times and it worked fine, but of course that we always try to keep it as authentic as we can.


And how could we envision an ORPHANED LAND show?


I hope that you won't have to envision, and that you will get the chance to see us for yourself and get the right impression. We just get on stage and do our thing, nothing less and nothing more.


Is there a chance to see ORPHANED LAND live in Europe and/or America?


I think that there's a good chance for it to happen, yes. Right now we are working on some shows that will occur here in our region, and when we're done with them we will have time to start consider a tour, and all the things regarding it.


On the limited first edition of "Mabool" there is a second CD with five acoustic tracks. Were those recorded specifically for the bonus CD or how did they come to be?


Those tracks were recorded separately from the album, about 1,5 years before “Mabool”'s release. We had a live acoustic show in Tel Aviv on August 2002 and we recorded it, and it kind of sat and waited for us to release it. When our label asked us for some bonus tracks for a limited edition, we offered them these tracks, and they liked the idea very much. The tracks are mostly acoustic versions of songs from our previous albums, “Sahara” and “El Norra Alila”.


Did you get any negative response for “Mabool” so far?


I don't think that you can do something in this world without getting any negative response at all. It would be too euphoric if we didn't. But, I must say, that we got very little negative response, mostly from people who are not in the Metal scene. Most of the responses have been really good up so far.


If the music of ORPHANED LAND was an emotion, which one would it be?


I would say LOVE, because I think that love is an emotion that holds in itself all the other emotions, kind of like how I see our music.


Could you please give us a few words on how you had seen each album back then, when it actually came out and how you see them now?


I like to listen to our old albums every now and then, to see where we were then and where we are today. I still like the old stuff very much, even though I think that “Mabool” is our best work up so far. I still think highly of our old albums though, we did a good work on them too.


What had been the goals for ORPHANED LAND back when you had started out, which ones have you achieved by now and how have they changed?


The goals of a band change constantly. When we started out, our main goal was to get a deal with a good label, and after we achieved that, we had our next target in front of us. Right now our goal is to get to anyone which might like our music. We have worked hard on the album and I think that it wouldn't be fair if there are people out there who might like our music, but never got the chance to listen to it because they never came across it. We would also like to perform as much as we can in as many places as we can as well.


What had been the decisive factor for you to choose Heavy Metal as your weapon of choice, so to say?


Orphaned Land is a Metal band, it can't be anything else. We started out as 16 years old kids with nothing but PANTERA and SEPULTURA in our CD players, and formed the band as a Death Metal band. We don't want to change our genre; we like playing Metal the most. As musicians, we think that metal is a genre that you can express yourself in and have a lot of fun with. If we would like to play something else than Metal, we wouldn't call it ORPHANED LAND. ORPHANED LAND is Metal.  


Could you please characterize the members of ORPHANED LAND with a few words (including yourself (?


It is hard to characterize people with only a few words, I'll try to characterize how I see us all. I think that OL members are all extremely talented people who want nothing but the best for themselves, very warm and funny people who like life and try to get the most out of it.


You have a big fanbase in Arabic countries, how do they normally react to an Israeli band and the other way around, how do the Israelis react to the use of Arabic folklore in your music?


Our Arab fans don't really care that we are from Israel, I think. They like our music, it is close to their hearts and they know that we mean well and that we promote relationships between people from different cultures. They don't usually get the chance to react to Israeli bands, since not that many Israeli bands' CDs find their way into their countries. But I think that it's blessed that they like us, and we try to keep a close touch with them.

Arab touches in music is a very common thing in Israel, but mixing it with Metal is a very different thing. It is a thing that we claim to be the first to do. I think that people in Israel are quite surprised from the combination, but I think that whoever is open minded enough here likes it.


You are combining elements and ideologies from Christianity, Judaism and Islam, basically the three monotheistic religions. Have you experienced any problems with hardliners of either religion?


Yes, for the matter of fact we have. Some Muslim orthodox guy have published a book, in which he told Muslim believers to stay away from ORPHANED LAND, because we are Jewish people and we are using quotes from the Koran, which is a most forbidden thing to do. There is also a strong association of Metal and "devil music", even though we represent the opposite.

People here in Israel are quite open minded, so we don't get any of "don't quote the Koran in your lyrics" or things like that. I guess that there are some circles which will see some of the things we do as negative things, but we don't usually associate with these people or have anything to do with them.


Do you think that with your music you might be able to bridge the gaps between the different cultures?


I think that our music helps a little in bridging the gaps. Every step which is made in this area is one more step towards understanding. We do and will do as much as we can, but unfortunately, I don't think that it is enough.


The situation in Israel is something that surely also affects your lives. How do you personally deal with the difficulties of life in your country?


I try not to think of it much, politics have never interested me. Right now the situation is very complicated, we just try to watch out for ourselves and hope that the crisis will end ASAP.


Do you have any problems with being a Metal band in Israel, with the music, the visual side etc.?


I think that Israel is a very western and modern country, all in all. We do not get problems playing Metal and looking the way we do, Metal is old news here. However, because that the scene is very small and very detached physically from the scene in Europe, it is hard to play Metal because there is not much audience to perform to. But we manage to survive; music always wins in the end. 


Which album would you wish was yours?


No album really, I'm proud of what I have achieved so far and will try to make myself better in the future.


What would you do, if you weren't able to compose music?


Not being able to compose music is being brain-dead, I think. Anyone could compose music. If I couldn't compose music I'd probably be a vegetable. (A carrot most likely, or an onion).


What do you love to hate in the music industry?


I don't like it when people become aggressive and force their opinion on others, like what happens in radio stations, when labels force them to play certain things. That's twisted. 



If time travel was possible, which historical period would you like to visit and why? What would you miss the most from our time?


There are many times that I would like visit: ancient Egypt, the Mayas and the Incas, the Roman Empire, and even before that – to the time when Abraham lived in the desert. I would miss the most from our time – the electric guitar.


To finish the interview, my traditional last question, what is your favorite question about ORPHANED LAND that you have never been asked yet, but would finally like to answer?


Oh I get it – you ran out of questions so you are having me ask myself a question and answer it myself – this is an old trick buddy :). Now really, I think that everything that could have been asked about OL had already been asked before, there is no question that was not asked that I can think of. Maybe you think of a question that weren't asked, and imagine me answering it, and send me the receipt. :) The storm still rages my friend… Peace on heaven.


1993: The Beloved’s Cry (CD, Demo)

1994: Sahara (CD, Holy)

1996: El Norra Alila (CD, Holy)

1999: The Beloved’s Cry (CD, MDMA)

2003: The Calm Before The Flood (MCD, Self-production)

2004: Mabool (The Story Of The Three Sons Of Seven) (CD, Century Media)

Alexander Melzer

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