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Orphaned Land - El Norra Alila CD (album) cover


Orphaned Land

Experimental/Post Metal

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5 stars The first album I heard from Orphaned Land was "Mabool" and I was stunned by how good they were at mixing israeli and oriental music with metal. Then I listened to "El Norra Alila" and I was again surprised to see that even in their early years they were distinguishing themselves so well from any other death/progressive bands incorporating music from their countries. "El Norra Alila" is of course more metal than "Mabool" but the atmosphere on the album was somehow more epic and mysterious. A must-have for any progressive metal fans who love artists including influences from where they come from. Orphaned Land is the Enslaved, the Sepultura of the middle-east. Certainly worth a 5 out of 5!
Report this review (#80387)
Posted Monday, June 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This was the first album I had ever heard by Orphaned Land, and it easily rivals Mabool. The mix is much more metal based, but the melodies are VERY creative. This album tends to put thelistener in a trance, with its doomy hypnotic sections reminiscent of middle eastern folk. At other times, incredbly powerful and melodic riffs come crashing from the left and right. This album was produced with the two guitars occupying ONLY the left or right channels (besides special leads or solos) making it a delight with headphones(and important you never play it back with only 1 speaker!). In a way, I prefer this album, as it seems more musically creative, while mabool is more conceptually creative. A bit more growling/death vox here too, but if youre not into it youll probably end up loving it after a couple listens. Easily one of the best prog metal releases out there, and one of my all time favourites.
Report this review (#103207)
Posted Friday, December 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars This second album proofed that the band have quite improved since ‘Sahara’. Production is no longer a problem here. This album obviously has better sound quality than their previous album. ‘El Norra Alila’ has more Arabic folk elements than their debut. You’ll hear more acoustic and folk parts here. The tracks are shorter though, and there’re some filler tracks too.

Into the songs:

‘Find Yourself Discover God‘opens the album with some nice flute work. Then the vocal comes followed by some heavy riffs and drumming in relatively fast tempo. Throughout the song, the tempo slower down and you’ll hear some nice clean acoustic part in the end.

‘Like Fire to Water‘has some percussion in the beginning, this song has a dark atmosphere, probably because of the growling and the guitar riffs. ‘The Truth Within’ continues the dark atmosphere with some haunting growling and vocals as well as the heavy riffs. ‘The Path Ahead’ still continuing the atmosphere from the previous two tracks. This song has some quite nice heavy guitar melody and some folk-metal blend in some parts. ‘A Neverending Way’ continues the previous track with some clean vocals and some folk tunes. The song goes heavier then, with some haunting vocals. These tracks (except ‘A Neverending Way’) sound a bit similar each other, and rather, feel like they’re just a single track.

‘Takasim‘is a short soft track. This song is just likely serves as an opening to the next track. ‘Thee by the Father I Pray’ starts with a choir-like vocal and has a guitar solo and some nice folk-metal melody near the end. ‘Flawless Believe’ starts with some bass lines and then followed by some heavy riffs and drum beats. This is an interesting track with some heavy guitar melody, some tempo-shifting and some folk tunes in a few parts. All of the sudden, the noises stops abruptly, and you’ll hear some percussion with some acoustic folk tunes in ‘Joy’. It goes for a few seconds and then ‘Whisper My Name When You Dream’ starts with some heavy riffs and growling. All these transitions are a quite weird in my opinion. This song has some nice part of male and female vocals combination in the middle with some keyboard works.

‘Shir Hama’Alot’ is a bit similar to ‘Takasim’, only this one is longer and has some vocals and acoustic guitar on it. ‘El Meod Na’Ala’ is a quite nice short track with both metal and folk atmosphere on it and a medium tempo. This song has a nice acoustic part too in the middle. Suddenly ‘Of Temptation Born’ starts with some heavy riffs and fast drumming, make an abrupt transition between the songs. ‘Shir Hashirim’ is a shot track that sounds like there’re a lot of people praying in a Mosque. ‘The Evil Urge’ starts nicely with some guitar acoustic. It then changes into a haunting track with some narrative-like heavy voice, some violin sounds and ambience-like guitar riffs at the end, quite a nice way to end the album.

Overall, this album is easily better than ‘Sahara’, there’re some quite good songs here, though some songs sound a bit similar with others, and there’re a few tracks that didn’t work quite well with the others. I still have a little problem with the clean vocals sometimes though. They still sound plain in some parts, but some of them worked well with the songs. This album already showed a good sign from the band, and I think they would do better next time. Three stars.

Report this review (#119669)
Posted Wednesday, April 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars I love the fact that these guys are from Isreal, and that they do not hide their love for God. I guess the fact I grew up in a home where the Bible was read a lot, and believed to be God's word, has something to do with my being so intrigued with these guys. I mean I have read so much about the Isrealites and about the land where they are from. Even the name of the band has such significance. They dedicate this record to "Our Father in Heaven." Apparently "El Norra Alila" refers to the name of a song sung by the Isrealites on the Day of Atonement. This is a record that promotes peace between the Jews and the Muslims, they even bring in a guest vocalist who sings a song in Arabic.

The first song "Find Yourself, Discover God" opens with flute as the vocalist speaks the words "Find Yourself".This is followed with a heavy sound of guitars grinding away as the keys come in.There are some blistering guitar solos and riffing after 4 minutes. Yes, there is also some growling too. "Like Fire To Water" opens with some tribal-like drumming as a grinding solo comes in with growls. Catchy riffs follow as well as a scorching guitar solo. I should mention that there is a lead guitarist and a rhythm guitarist. I refer to the rhythm guitar melodies as grinding because that is what it sounds like. "The Truth Within" is an amazing song. There is a beautiful guitar solo over the vocal melody. Nice.Nice ? It's freaking awesome ! Riffs and some pretty cool drumming follows.This song blends into the next song "The Path Ahead". There are lots of growls, ripping guitar solos, and pounding drums. "A Neverending Way" opens with violin and reserved vocals as synths come in. This is such a beautiful melody. The guitar comes in grinding followed by riffs.Hell ya !

"Takasim" is really a shofah solo. There is a first time for everything I guess. "Thee By The Father I Pray" features grinding guitar as drums pound. Scorching guitar follows as the song ends with a vocal melody. "Flawless Belief" is probably my favourite song on the album. Opening with scalding guitar and great bass as heavy drums come in.The guitar is so good in this song. "Joy" is all about the percussion. "Whisper My Name When You Dream" has more incredible guitar with more not so incredible growling. "Shir Hama'alot" features more shofah and ethnic instruments and the Arabic vocals. "El Meod Na'ala" is a wall of sound with a vocal melody. "Of Temptation Born" has this grinding guitar melody as the lead guitar plays over top. Oh my ! Growls continue. "The Evil Urge" sounds like a Middle Eastern folk song with strumming acoustic guitar and vocals.There is a haunting soundscape with a monologue. "Shir Hasrihim" has no instrumentation just haunting voices.The final song "Disciples Of The Sacred Oath" opens with grinding guitar and vocals as drums pound. It's cool how they can slow down or speed up the melody so quickly.The drumming is amazing. Check out the sound at 4:40. Incredible !

This is easily a 4 star record and compared with "Mabool..." it is heavier and more metal sounding. I love them both.Their next album is being produced by Steven Wilson, I can't wait !

Report this review (#121855)
Posted Saturday, May 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I really like this band. I like their combo of Jiddish/Arabic sound in a region of the world hellbent on confrontations between these two cultures. This is why I am so disappointed every time I am listening to their albums.

The sound is very good here. The use of downtuned guitars and death growls is good. They are very much in the Anathema/My Dying Bride mould. Their use of Jiddish/Arabic music is excellent and they are tapping into a goldmine more and more bands are starting to use. Orphaned Land was the pioneer here and I applaud them for that.

My main gripe is the lack of good songs on this album. It therefore sounds more like a Gaza Strip/Liverpool soundcollage. There are several Jiddish/Arabic songs here in addition from Anathema/My Dying Bride inspired songs. The overall quality is good, though. But there is no really good songs here and that makes me really frustrated because I love Orphaned Land more than I love their music. It is a good three stars album where my heart want to give this album five stars.

3 stars

Report this review (#249262)
Posted Monday, November 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars On their second album, Orphaned Land show that they have developed the skills to accomplish their vision of eastern death metal. They display a clever mix of death metal and middle-eastern folk, growls and clean vocals, which at the time both were a rare addition to the music world. In a world where there are more folk metal bands than bible copies nowadays, it's easy to overlook this album. However, that would be a shame. Orphaned Land has always been a band with a vision, trying to push the boundaries of their music as well as their upbringing. The music itself must have been very innovative at the time (1996). Their blend of western extreme music with eastern traditional music was not only unique, in times of conflict it's also a political statement that we are all united. Normally I don't care for spiritual lyrics, but Orphaned land has found a concept that transcends a lot of boundaries.

History shows that as songwriters, Orphaned Land will keep on growing. The music is good and innovative, but the songwriting itself isn't as breathtaking as it is on their next record Mabool. The production isn't very good, but it adds to their charm of being a metal pioneer. My only real beef with the production is that the distorted guitars are too loud in the mix. The musicianship is good without being outstanding.

Orphaned Land has created a good record, an essential addition for people interested in the short history of heavy metal in the middle-east. However, it is completely overshadowed by their following album, Mabool, like the Hobbit is by the Lord of the Rings.


Report this review (#308973)
Posted Tuesday, November 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars They might very well have found God, but they had not quite found themselves yet at this point

El Norra Alila was Orphaned Land's second full length album, released in 1996. After this there would be an eight year gap before their next album Mabool. While the latter can be seen as the band's breakthrough and self-realization, El Norra Alila already had most of the ingredients that make Orphaned Land into a unique band. Their interesting blend of extreme Metal and oriental or Middle-Eastern traditional music was in full flight already at this point and the musical talents of the band are hard to deny. The end result was certainly very promising, but while very eclectic and experimental, I don't find as much Prog in this album as on the following two albums (or maybe I should say that this is highly progressive but not Prog, insofar as that makes sense). Having discovered the two more recent albums first, I cannot help thinking that the long period between the present album and Mabool did the band good and helped them to evolve.

There is, like on later albums, an impressive plethora of exotic instruments, some of which I had never heard or even heard of before. Also like on later albums, there is a nice mixture of clean and growling male vocals as well as female vocals. All this creates a totally unique sound. But while I find the present album highly enjoyable and intriguing, it is not quite as memorable and effective overall as what came after. Standout tracks include A Never Ending Way and The Evil Urge, both featured on the acoustic live bonus disc of the Mabool album.

A promising album showing the way to future developments. Recommended!

Report this review (#453866)
Posted Monday, May 30, 2011 | Review Permalink

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