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Orphaned Land - Mabool - The Story of the Three Sons of Seven CD (album) cover


Orphaned Land


Experimental/Post Metal

4.08 | 324 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Mabool is a metal album like no other. Sure, you've heard it all said before, but Orphaned Land hail from Israel and how many progressive metal bands do you know from the Middle East? Mabool is the kind of metal album that contains such exotic musical influences that you've probably all heard before but never meticulously mixed quite like this folks, I assure you.

Orphaned Land has this unequaled/unrivaled ability to fuse middle eastern musical influences with progressive death metal elements. All the songs flow seamlessly into one another both musically and lyrically - this is a concept album - and if you speak English, Hebrew, Latin, Yemen and gibberish, you'll understand it all perfectly.

This is a disc that begs to be listened to in its entirety, for listening to a few select songs will simply not do the album justice. The concept is a re-telling of the Biblical story of the great flood. In addition to their own lyrics, the band uses texts taken from the book of Genesis, the Rabbi Shalom Shabazi poems and uses a text from the traditional "Halel" praising song. Think of it as a story and nothing more.

Instruments used on this recording in addition to traditional drums, bass, acoustic/electric/classical guitars are the piano, violin, cello and the synthesizer. Atmospheric orchestrations all make an occasional appearance and you will also find that the band makes extensive usage of middle eastern instruments such as the Saz, Bouzouki and Oud.

Add to this a variety of vocal styles that range from Kobi Farhi's soft spoken word and clean delivery which includes chanting and a foreboding death growl, while Shalomit Levi provides the beautiful female voice. You also get an oriental choir that is used sparingly and in my view, just at the right moments throughout the album.

Mabool opens with children apparently singing and playing, nothing could be more innocent. When the band kick it in, the listener is immediately introduced to the bands distinctive metal sound. Keyboards, orchestrations, in fact the full gamut of instruments and vocal styles is included and everything you want to know about the band and the music is laid out on the very first track: "Birth of Three (The Unification)."

The first time I listened to "Birth of the Three" - I was finding it somewhat difficult to get into. But, by the end of the song, everything seemed to fall into place. And everytime I listened to the album, the same feeling kept returning to me on that very first opening track. It just appeared to me like the first half of the song didn't quite "fit" properly, but like I said, everything seemed to fall into place in the second half of the song?

Anyway, many months later and I still feel the exact same way about it today! The only difference now is that the album has had time to sink in a little more and thus "my understanding" of it has somewhat evolved. The first half of the song is indicative that something is really wrong in the world and in the second half, goes on!

I think everybody who listens to the album will probably have their own interpretation of the songs. That pretty well stands for any music or album one listens too. Shall we resume with the music on the album...

The band continues with the heavy guitars approach on "Ocean Land (The Revelation)." The guitar solo is sweet, helps to remind the listener that the musicianship is top notch. "The Kiss of Babylon (The Sins)" includes more middle eastern elements. By now, the listener is fascinated and captivated by it all. The chanting, the progressive metal influences all interwoven together to create this wonderful opus. As the music fades away, Shalomit Levi's powerful voice starts to sing - a capella - the opening to "A'salk", simply beautiful. Acoustic guitar and other middle eastern exotic instruments are added to the track. Just a great musical moment. There is a very short spoken word segment just before the onset of "Halo Dies (The Wrath of God)." As the title suggests, this song is perhaps the heaviest on the album, which makes much use of Farhi's death growl.

"A Call to Awake (The Quest)" is reminiscent of Dream Theatre with its simple more straightforward progressive metal approach which comes complete with keyboard and guitar interplay and solos.

The album moves into a softer mode with "Building the Ark", acoustic middle eastern flavored track with piano and atmospheric orchestrations. "Norra El Norra (Entering the Ark)" begins like a folk track with strumming acoustic guitars but quickly moves into heavy territory. It bounces back and forth effortlessly with beautiful middle eastern harmonies. This one ends as an acoustic instrumental with a beautiful piano passage that segues into a two minute all acoustic guitar instrumental intro to "The Calm Before the Flood," which then gives way to an atmospheric instrumental complete with strings and wind blowing - then rain, thunder, violins, cellos - and just as the storm is building, so does the music.

Finally, "Mabool (The Flood)" has arrived, the climax of the story. My absolute FAV track on the album. Excellent guitar work throughout and the drums are varied and pounding and come complete with fast double bass drum passages. The first time I heard this track on my friends computer, it appeared to lack a little something, sounded a little subdued to me. When I listened to the track on my own stereo, well, what a world of difference a good sound system makes. :)

"The Storm Still Rages Inside" is a mid-paced slow moving track with a very lengthy guitar solo. Here, the guitarist uses an interesting scale with some bent notes that are purposely slipping out of tune, just as a raging storm would have naturally bent things out of harmony. The album comes to a close with streaming water and chirping birds, a classical acoustic guitar instrumental titled: "Rainbow (The Resurrection)."

It's amazing how the band can go from an acoustic passage to heavy guitars and back to middle eastern instruments and then back to heavy guitars again and make it all work flawlessly. Mabool is as close as one will ever get to an exotic progressive metal vibe. It's truly a beautiful piece of work from beginning to end.

Vanwarp | 5/5 |


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