Sound: For those of you who don't know, Orphaned Land is an Oriental Progressive Death Metal band from Israel - And probably the best Metal band in Israel as well. I must admit, I was surprised when I didn't find any reviews or news about them in UG, so I decided to add one about their masterpiece - Mabool.
First, a little about the band: Orphaned Land are, as I said, Oriental - which means they combine middle-eastern folk music in their metal. In addition to that their music has a lot of Progressive elements, which takes Oriental Metal to higher levels.
The album I chose to review, Mabool, is, in my opinion, a masterpiece. It is a concept album about the biblical story of the flood, from the point of view of Noah's three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. It goes all the way from their birth, to the prophecy of the flood, to their quest to try and save the world, and eventually, building the ark and trying to survive the flood as the world drowns around them. // 10
Lyrics: 01. Birth Of The Three (The Unification): the first song in the album tells the story of the Three Sons Of Seven, who will be represented for the rest of the album as three animals: The snake, the eagle and the lion. The songs teaches you about the three, their un-normal birth and the beginning of the prophecy. The singing includes mostly Growls by lead singer Kobi Frahi, except for a part in the middle which is a jewish chant: "Yahalel yahalel ya" ("Praise praise god"). A great openning to the album (And my favorite song)
02. Ocean Land (The Revelation): the second song go deeper into the story, as the three hear, for the first time, the prophecy of the forthcoming flood. this song is more progressive and less oriental than most of the album, except for a short Arabic chant at the end of the songs.
03. The Kiss Of Babylon (The Sins): one of the most aggressive songs in the album, about the sins of Babylon and the rest of the world (Mostly worshipping false gods and questioning God's existence). As the three sons see this, they realise that something must change if they want to save the world from God's wrath. In this song, israely singer Shlomit Levi adds female vocals, making the second half of the song a great duet.
04. A'salk: this is an old short Yemen folk song. The singer here is Shlomit Levi. In this song, the three sons beg for God's mercy.
05. Halo Dies (The Wrath Of God): "Hell hath no fury as a God scorned". This song is God's answer to the Three's prayer for mercy. He tells them that unless all the world will repent, there will be no mercy: "All man shall fall as Abel fell to Cain, by fire, by storm, by hail and by rain". The music really emphasize god's wrath, and combines perfectly with Kobi Frahi's growls.
06. A Call To Awake (The Quest): this song closes the first half of the album - The half where there is still hope. In this song, the three sons travel around the world, trying to get people to repent, but no one believes them.
07. Building The Ark: opening the second half of the album is a Church-like song in greek. It describes the building of the ark as the Three and their family prepare for the forthcoming end of the world.
08. Nora El Nora (Entering The Ark): an Oriental Metal version to an old jewish chant. "Nora El Nora" means "Dreadful, dreadful god". It is the Three's final prayer before the forthcoming darkness.
09. The Calm Before The Flood: instrumental. This song is, just like the title says, the calm before the flood. It is a slow, calm acoustic song - But, in spite of it being calm, it gives the feeling that at any moment something bad is going to happen... And as it ends, you can hear the rain beginning.
10. Mabool (The Flood): this is the peak moment of the album. It begins with a thunder as you hear the rain grow stronger. The songs describes the flood and the opening of the gates of the sky. The lyrics combine many quotes from the bible (in hebrew). I think the lyrics and the music trully capture what the Three felt as they saw the world they knew sink before them.
11. The Storm Still Rages Inside: the rain finally stops, and the three watch the flooded world around them. "Where once were green pastures teeming with life, now were oceans deeper than any abyss". The song is mostly instrumental, and the music takes you back to Ocean Land (Song 2), and from those riffs it becomes something new. Most people I know believe this is Orphaned's best song.
12. Rainbow (The Resurrection): it begins with the sound of waves. This song is an acoustic Instrumental, and throughout it all there are sounds of birds in the background. Unlike "Calm before the flood", where you get an uneasy feeling of "something bad is gonna happen", this song is all about relief.
Overall, Kobi Frahi's singing is simply awesome. The music and the lyrics are compiled together perfectly, making many moments in the album absolutely thrilling. // 10
Overall Impression: Most of Orphaned Land's albums are more Oriental than Progressive. This one is different. It is a much greater musical acheivement, with songs that create just the right atmosphere, and lead perfectly into one another. I believe it is their best album so far.
This album is truly a masterpiece. Especially fun to listen to when it's raining outside. // 10