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


Orphaned Land

Experimental/Post Metal

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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.

Report this review (#51923)
Posted Saturday, October 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Incredible and magnificient progressive death folk metal album. I get a copy after reading some reviews here and I was impressed with this terrible (in a good sense) mix of rock and middle-east folk music. The tunes are beautiful; the acoustic, chorus and female voices parts are awsome, musicians play as well as any band you could imagine and the concept and lyrics are very atractive. Listening this music first band that came to my band was Opeth, but they play, if that is possible, in a more complex mood. I'm agree with the previous reviews. It's an instant cult classic prog rock opus. They aren't a new neo-classical band with a guitar hero playing solos til the infinity and they aren't a new DT or Ayreon clone. There are a lot of bands around the globe trying to play metal with folk approach and Orphaned Land are IMO the best of all of them.
Report this review (#66555)
Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
The Crow
5 stars Sometimes, when you think you've heard everything in music, appears something that surprises you and make you keeping the passion for music... Orphaned Land is my last discovering, and "Mabool" is one of the best prog-metal albums I've heard... And of course, the most original of all them. This is pure passion made music...

Is difficult to explain everything Orphaned Land has to offer, because these guys are really variated, and their music has a lot of details to explore... Basically, they make progressive metal. But they come from Israel, and the western influences are very very prominent. Here we can hear a lot of Arabic and Israel's music mixed with metal, but there's a lot of death metal, black metal and some hard rock influences, medieval tunes, some classical music... They sing in 6 different languages too. The final mixture is totally coherent and cohesive. But I think is better to explain making a track to track:

1. Birth of The Three (The Unification): the album opens with the sound of kids playing and singing, very pleasant and mysterious... And then, the strong and melodic electric guitars appears. This is very surprising, because from the first moment you can hear the strong folkloric influences of the band, even in the stronger parts... The initial Kobi Fahri's growls lead to a very melodic and clean chorus. After that, appears the acoustic and Israelite instruments mixed with the heavy section. Incredible! The last three minutes are superb, with a lot of rhythm changes, real prog-metal mixed with western music, with the first example of the incredible Yossi Sassi's abilities to playing guitar. Awesome!

2. Ocean Land (The Revelation): maybe the most commercial song of the album. Great acoustic opening. The electric guitars are awesome, and the Avi Daimond's drums are really good in the first riffs. The verses are growls but very melodic, both acoustic and electric. The chorus is very catchy and Kobi Fahri demonstrates that he is a great singer here. Matti Savtitzki plays a fine solo too. How good are both guitarist of this band! The end of this song was secretly recorded inside the Taj Mahal by Kobi.

3. The Kiss of Babylon (The Sins): very strong and groovy guitars riffs opens this songs, with some great electric guitars... Then, comes a good section with clean vocals, interrupted by a catchy oriental acoustic part. After the second chorus, comes the best section of the song. Great duets between Kobi Fahri and Shlomit Levi with strong guitars. These choirs are really catchy and the end of the song, with Shlomit singing alone will surely make your skin bristle.

4. A'Salk starts united with the previous song, but then comes a totally folkloric instrumental development, with more voices from Shlomit Levi again. This is a great transition towards the next song...

5. Halo Dies (the wrath of God): my favourite track of the album. This song has everything that a prog metal fan can imagine. Just perfect from the first second to the last one. The guitar solo from Svatitzki is just incredible! One of the most passionate solos I've heard... Really, if you are a true prog fan, you can't die without hearing this song.

6. A Call to Awake (The Quest): this song is very curious. The first section is totally on the 80's ways, with very melodic guitars and a slow chorus with oriental guitars. Really curious... At the end of this first sections comes a great Yossi Sassi's solo. But the final section is very much stronger, and for some reason, remembers me a little to the most oriental parts of Dream Theater. Great Eden Rabin's keyboards playing and solo here...

7. Building the Ark: the song opens with an oriental choir in Latin. Very beautiful acoustic work... Then, comes a short part sung by Kobi, and the best section of the song. Three guitars solos: one acoustic, another with Spanish guitar, and acoustic again. Precious ending of this song! These guys are masters with acoustic and traditional instruments...

8. Norra el Norra (Entering the Ark): another highlight of the album. This is an Israel's traditional tune, but sounds like the rest of the album, fits perfectly with the whole record. Sung in Jewish, with very strong guitars and hen-skin maker choirs. The jazzy final piano solo by Eden Rabin is so cool. 9. The Calm Before the Flood: the first instrumental song of the album, totally acoustic. Its name describes perfectly the mood of the song, very beautiful and ethnic. At the end of the song, comes the rain, which lead us to Mabool.

10. Mabool (The Flood): maybe the harder song of the album. An orchestral opening related with the previous song. Storm, rain and thunders, and The Flood begins. The rhythm is always the same, except some breakings towards the end. But it's still totally progressive, because there's a lot of melody variations. The Uri Zelcha's bass is very prominent here. This is also the most related song with the previous works of the band. No guitar solo here, but it's not necessary because the song is totally variated and with a great structure. And the best solos are to come in the next tune!

11. The Storm Still Rages Inside: another rhythmic song, really epic, providing a perfect climax for this album. Here is also the best instrumental development of the album. Every instrument shines here, with protagonism for everyone. The music together with the sound of the sea remembers me to Savatage's "The Wake of Magellan". And this is not the only thing that remembers to Savatage, because the passionate Yossi Sassi's guitar solos are in a similar style of Al Pitrelli's ones. But, of course with the unique oriental feeling of this band. The final section, with the entering of the Spanish guitar, is another example of the ability of this band to give impressive moments.

12. Rainbow: the second and last instrumental song of the album. This song has some medieval feeling that makes it very special. Is a melancholic track, but the hope and happiness of the end of this story is also present here. This song leaves you wandering how only 6 guys and some collaborators are able to make so incredible music.

I wish also to talk a little about the history of this album. This is a conceptual record. The tale of three warriors of the light, representing the first monotheistic religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. These warriors try to fight against the sins and horrible acts of the humanity, but they failed in their attempt. And the humanity is condemned to The Flood. And then, appears another very well known hero with an ark... Marvellous history, and marvellous lyrics. Like I said, this album is sung in 6 languages: English, Jewish, Arabic, Latin, Yemen and Gibberish (a language invented by the own band). But the main language is English, and there is also translations to English of all the foreign lyrics, so there's no problem to understand everything. Maybe the strong religious influences of this band will not please everyone, but the way of writing the lyrics and expressing their believing is very original and they have a kind of "universal" feeling that make these lyrics and story very interesting and pleasant... Is different, for example, to the Neal Morse's lyrics, which I find a little disgusting and annoying.

Conclusion: a must for every prog lover... If you want to discover a band which really sounds to anything you've heard before, then listen "Mabool". You will find an incredible world of adventures, vast deserts, beautiful oasis, intricate oriental cities, devastation and desolation... Orphaned Land are capable to provide you so much feelings. One of the best prog metal album of the new millenium!

I can't wait to hear the next album of the band, "ORwarriOR"... Steve Wilson will produce it!!!! Is difficult to imagine something better than "Mabool", but with Wilson as producer, everything can happen... The best example is Opeth!

My rating: *****

Report this review (#75662)
Posted Thursday, April 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars ORPHANED LAND's second album, Mabool, is almost spotless in my opinion; I continue to be impressed every time I listen. Their style, a mixture of Israeli folk music with death metal and Western orchestral elements, is extremely original, but what's more, this band has the conceptual intelligence as well as the musicianship to pull it off without sounding in the slightest bit pretentious. I would suggest that listeners consider whether or not they will be offended by religious elements--these being drawn from the story of the Flood which is a feature of all three major Judeo-Christian religions. I also think that if you are a fan of OPETH, and particularly of Ghost Reveries and Damnation, you are especially likely to enjoy ORPHANED LAND's work. In fact, the outro of "The Kiss of Babylon" may even remind you of the outro of OPETH's "Harlequin Forest."

"Birth of the Three" opens the album with the basic premise: three warriors who hail from each of the three Judeo-Christian religions. All three of the descriptions seem fairly complimentary, and I have to wonder, was the lyricist thinking of the Narnia Chronicles a bit when he describes the Christian character as "lion wisdom"? The further you get into the album, the more you'll be in awe of KOBI FARHI's vocal versatility. With three styles at his command--Western, Middle Eastern (NOT easy because the notes are closer together than the Western semitone) and death-metal growling, it seems as if there's almost nothing that FARHI can't do...and for that, they have female solo vocalist SHLOMIT LEVI.

Easily one of my favorite tracks is "Halo Dies," which is the heaviest track as it introduces God's rage at the sins of interesting thing I've noticed, which may be part of the Israeli cultural heritage, is a greater willingness to face this side of the Torah head-on than one usually sees in music written from a Christian perspective. "A Call to Awake" is also quite innovative, in the way its opening blends a reversed lute track with one going forward.

The second truly stunning moment on this album (or should I say, MOST stunning) is "Building the Ark," which melds Latin Gregorian chanting in with Middle Eastern instrumentation. Somebody obviously paid attention in Music Appreciation, as European music from the Middle Ages was sometimes closer in the chords used, to Middle Eastern music than it was in later times. This song is followed by "Norra El Norra," which according to the liner notes is a traditional song that has been given a metal arrangement. "Mabool" itself is very nice, but contains one of the only two awkward moments on the album, to my ears--there's a falsetto I could've done without, but I'll cut them some slack because of the chance that comes from another cultural heritage.

The third moment that stands out the most is also the longest song on the album: "The Storm Still Rages Inside." While it might lull the listener into thinking there's not much to it in the beginning, as a slower song, I think this song is the equal of songs like PINK FLOYD's "Comfortably Numb" or OPETH's "Epilogue," and even at over 9 minutes, it feels at the end as if it wasn't long enough. The album closes with "Rainbow," which musically seems like a bit of an anticlimax after "The Storm Still Rages Inside." However, since it was necessary for the completion of the story, I'll let them off the hook for that one, too.

Overall, this is a fantastic album that I highly recommend. Anyone who is a fan of prog-metal, or who is a fan of any prog with a Middle Eastern twist, should buy this immediately.

Report this review (#78412)
Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Wouldn't call it essential, but definitely worth its few spins. Some will like it, others will not, mostly because of the use of death vocals. But don't let that scare you away. They are used sparingly and their are other vocal concepts used, and different languages as well, Hebrew and Latin if I'm right, correct me if I am wrong.

Anyway, onto the music. There's a lot of substance here and a lot of crossing of genre boundaries, a big plus in my book. The album focuses on many different religious concepts, without favoring or "preaching" any specific religion. Its more about discussing the history in religious texts than it is telling you to be anything, with the title track, the Flood, having the most obvious religious base.

I find most of the songs hit or miss. Some I find boring and dull, pretty uninspiring, while others I find remarkable. And when they are of the remarkable kind, they are really amazing. My favorites are Ocean Land, with its middle eastern flavor mixed with death metal, and the title track, which is a great "journeymen" type of song with all sorts of intricacies.

If you are just a little bit open to the metal genre, you will find this album much to your liking. Definitely worth your time.

Report this review (#82010)
Posted Monday, June 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Thousands of words have been said about this album. People have said it is innovative, special, genius and more... Some have even called him the best album that came out in 2004, and considered as one the best achievements in metal. If you ask me, i have to agree... I knew Orphaned Land, by a total coincidence, from watching TV after midnight and seeing their video, "Norra El Norra" in the israeli music channel (24), and since then i'm with them...

In 1996, after releasing their second album, "El Norra Alila", Orphaned Land have splitted - and every one had gone to it's own ways. Kobi Farhi (the lead singer) has gone a lot since then - he has become religious, and came back to his agnosity, and those processes came to the end when he start producing Trance music (!). Towards 2001, Farhi has understanded that Orphaned got to work together again. Then, he had his idea of re-cruiting the band and to build a concept album, based on the Biblical "Mabool" (flood, in hebrew). He started gathering his information and found out that in many cultures the idea of the "Mabool", which cleaned the world from it's filth. In the aspect of the production, this album was significant than the other albums, and includes mystic & biblical culture.

Because of the huge musical wealth of "Mabool", producing & recording the album wasn't an easy task - In the creation of the album, you can find many sorts of instruments from around the world: starting with Arab & African percussions, Mediterranean strings and even a classic choir of 25 female singers & 6 males. The records, being made at 2 different studios, have created a unique sound in the aspect of quality & sharpness.

My favorite track is "Mabool", the title track. It comes right after "The Calm Before The Flood" (instrumental), which is a very dark & atmosphere track. "Mabool", is definitely the highlight of the album. In the beginning you can hear classic sounds & rain, and in the background - reading of biblical passages, which describe god's deeds during that shadowed hours. 7 minutes of destruction & ruination, the process of deleting the human kind of the ground. In this song comes also the writing level to it's height... another track that i really like is "The Storm Still Rages Inside" - which describes the aftermath of the "Mabool" & the human destruction, and after the rage of god. Suprisingly, after a dark track like "Mabool", comes an optimistic song, full of hope, that ends with a little prayer to the peace of the sitters in the ark.

I have to give it 4 stars, as a excellent addition to any prog collection.

Report this review (#83869)
Posted Sunday, July 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I will keeep this review short, as many others have said what needed to be said. This album is absolutely essential to any Prog metal collection(this and their previous effort, El Norra Ailila). Mixing european, jewish, and middle eastern musical elements, this album is extremely epic and never has a dull moment. At first glance it sounds a little stranger than things you may be used to(even for them!) but if anything that only impresses me further. These guys have had it rough commercially due to a 7 year split due to the "problems" in Israel, so I reccomend you BUY THIS ALBUM!
Report this review (#106667)
Posted Monday, January 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Magnificent and marvelous. After so many words being written for this album I can only add that it captures you and never leaves you.The band produced a great concept, mixed various styles, especially their local ones, performed epically and gave us a monumental record. Surely a milestone to their career and one of the great ones of Progressive Metal.

As for the story and the lyrics, I am not an expert of religion(s) but the scriptural story is interesting. The band made a good choice by selecting various languages. It gave a more pious prespective to the songs. The three characters of different religions is a nice idea. If there are any hidden messages, well I don't know but it fits to the music.

And the music is excelent. It reminds you of many things (goth, folk, symphonic) but you must admit, it's unique. It is their sound and I believe in the future we will use this band as a measure. All performances are strong and well balanced. Everything is where it should be.

The only disadvantage of this record are the growling parts. I never got used to it in any death metal band but in this record are justified.It is for the sake of diversity.

In the beginning I wanted to give 4 stars. After the second listening I got to 4.5 stars. Now I believe that anything different from 5 stars will be unfair. Masterpiece.

Report this review (#107641)
Posted Tuesday, January 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This work keeps impressing me for over a year, now. It is great blend of progressive metal, death metal, eastern (hebrew and arabic) ethnic music. Singer has such a beautiful voice, rare in today's music. And from time to time, he also play role of growler, which gives great dynamics to music. Album is conceptual, its theme is modern version of the bible story about great flood. There are some ancient ethnic instruments here, some great female vocals, some excellent sound textures, even fantastic orchestration. This is something special in today's progressive metal music, these guys recorded again after long silence, and what a comeback! Orphaned Land will have great musician called Steven Wilson as a producer on the next album. I expect massive masterpiece, and one of the best metal albums ever. I keep five- star rating for that album, but it needs to make me cry of beauty, first.
Report this review (#110832)
Posted Tuesday, February 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is a concept album about the flood (Mabool), only they put their own twist on the old testament story by adding the "Three sons" to it. These three sons are the snake, eagle and lion and represent the three major religions, Judiasm, Islam and Christianity. Anyway these three sons come together as one to warn the people of the earth of the impending flood that is coming from God because of their sin. So yes, this is an album of epic proportions. This record blends several languages and vocals so beautifully as well as many ethnic instruments, orchestral sections as well as Prog-Metal. There are some growly vocals that are used to demonstrate anger, and are not used a lot.

"Birth Of The Three (The Unification)" opens with children singing until crushing riffs come in and vocals. The drumming seems to roll as the guitars grind it out in the background. Some ripping guitar melodies to follow. I love this opening song. "Ocean Land (The Revelation)" is the revelation of the impending doom that will strike the earth.The intro reminds me of THE TEA PARTY with the use of ethnic instruments until the guitar comes in. Deep throaty vocals are contrasted with the normal vocals. We then hear a scorching solo as the song ends with percussion and ethnic vocals. "The Kiss Of Babylon (The Sins)" relate the sins that man has committed against God. This is a heavy tune with angry death vocals and background synths. Normal vocals come in followed by a female vocal melody that is cool. A male takes over the same melody. 6 minutes in she really reminds me of Anneke as the song blends into "A'slk". This is a short song with her still singing with ethnic instruments including percussion. "Halo Dies (The Wrath Of God)" opens with spoken words, and as it plays out i'm reminded of GREEN CARNATION. We get some more growly vocals and the violin/guitar melody is great.

"A Call To Awake (The Quest) is where the "Three sons" go out to warn the inhabitants of the earth. This is an uptempo tune with tasteful guitar melodies.Vocals and heavy riffs follow with background synths. "Building The Ark" features ethnic instruments as choirs come in and vocals.There is some intricate, acoustic guitar and synths. "Norra El Norra (Entering The Ark)" opens with ethnic vocals and strumming guitar that are crushed by heavy riffs. A female vocal melody, synths, piano and drums follow. Nice."The Calm Before The Flood" is a solemn instrumental of acoustic guitar, synths and wind. Mankind are living their lives, unaware that their lives are about to end. "Mabool (The Flood)" opens with the sound of rain and some orchestral sounds as it starts to pour and thunder. Guitars and drums build in sound. We then hear spoken words, then vocals as guitars churn out the melody. "The Storm Still Rages Inside" opens with spoken words and the sound of water splashing as the ark rises in the water. There is such an uplifting guitar solo that goes on and on. Nice. Vocal melodies with drums and splashing water close out the song. "Rainbow" ends this ambitious work with acoustic guitar as you can hear the birds singing. Beautiful ending.

This is close to being a masterpiece in my opinion, but falls just short. 4.5 stars.

Report this review (#113440)
Posted Saturday, February 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars The third studio releases by Orphaned land came after quite a long time with a few changes in the band’s line-up and new record label as well. ‘Mabool – The Story of Three Sons of Seven’ easily tops their other works. This album has a very nice combination of death-metal and Arabic folklores, and the proportion is very well balanced here. I’m not really into death metal, but I like this album.

And now, let’s straight into the tracks:

The album kicks off with the great opening track ‘Birth of the Three (The Unification)’. This track has a very nice metal-folk blend, with some growling, heavy voices and nice clean voices as well. Nice melody by guitar and some keyboard tunes as well. The female choir near the end really makes this track powerful and beautiful at the same times.

‘Ocean Land (The Revelation)’ starts with some nice acoustic parts, then the growl comes and it becomes heavier, but still a nice track. This track ends with some Muslim prayer-like voices. ‘The Kiss of Babylon (The Sins)’ kicks off with heavy riffs and some growling voices. There’re also some female voices here to balance the heavy side of this song. Another good combination between the metal and folk elements can be heard here as the song goes a bit softer from the middle part with some nice and quite catchy melody. This song ended with a female singing without any music. ‘A'salk’ continues the female singing from the previous track, and then you’ll hear some nice Arabic folk tunes provided by some acoustic guitar and percussions.

‘Halo Dies (The Wrath of God)’ is another nice blend of death metal and Arabic folk by the band, the opening part of this song is a good example for that. Some nice electric and acoustic guitar solos keyboard works as well here. This track is probably the heaviest track in this album, but it still has some nice softer parts in the middle part. ‘A Call to Awake (The Quest)’ is a quite nice balanced track that features some cool riffs and solos as well as some acoustic guitar tunes that blend well with the heavy sounds.

‘Building the Ark’ is a nice soft folk track, no metal elements here. Nice acoustic guitar and keyboard melody, and the combination of the female choirs and the male vocal are very well done. ‘Nora El Nora (Entering the Ark)’ has some nice acoustic guitar as the opening, then the riffs comes in and the song build up into a very nice folk metal track with some rather catchy tunes in it. The piano melody from the middle part through the end is really sweet.

‘The Calm before the Flood’ is a short calm track like its name. Nice acoustic guitar tunes here. The track continues with ‘Mabool (The Flood)’, which has a sweet orchestration part in the beginning with rain sound in the background. Then the riff comes with the drum beats, and the song goes heavier. The vocals here are sometimes a bit haunting, and in a few parts sounds like narrating and of course, growling. ‘The Storm Still Rages Inside’ is a continuation of the previous track. This song has some nice melody provided by guitar, some keyboard and bass lines too and there’re also some great guitar solos too here on some parts. There’s a stop for a moment and then the song continues with some acoustic tunes combined with heavy riffs and as the vocal sings and the female choirs end this track nicely. ‘Rainbow (The Resurrection)’ is a sweet closing track for this album. The acoustic guitar with some nature atmosphere in the background make you feel like you’re in a nice and peaceful place.

Overall, this is a great album. Unlike their previous works, I don’t have any problem with the vocals anymore. The singing here are all good, there isn’t any plain feeling at all. The compositions are good too, each songs work well with others. This album also feels more melodic than their previous ones. With this album, the band showed that they have improved a lot. But even though it’s a great album, I don’t think that this is a masterpiece of prog. This album deserves four and a half stars at its best. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#119670)
Posted Wednesday, April 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Although sparsely used by many metal bands, none of them embraced so consistently the fusion of progressive death metal with eastern folk music like the Israeli Orphaned Land did. The use of the characteristic acoustic guitars, some orchestral arrangements and operatic choral voices with female contributions, created a soaring epic ambiance, built to represent the religious Flood tragic story. Heavy guitar riffs are also spread over the album, along with some few technical parts a la Dream Theater, but, without a doubt, the band's main concern lyes within the atmospherics.

Tracks that standout are the richly textured "Ocean Land", the dynamic "The Kiss of Babylon", a great amalgam of those elements, the solemn acoustic "The Storm Still Rages Inside", the classical driven "Mabool (The FLood)" and the climatic languid "The Storm Still Ranges Inside", while the single "Nora el Nora (Entering the Ark)", sang in Israeli, soaring at times a gypsies hymn. Nevertheless lacking sometimes some substance or being too pompous, even naive, at moments, it's still a solid and creative release, with some great moments. Between 3 and 4 rating.

Report this review (#122207)
Posted Tuesday, May 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Israel's Orphaned Land hit big with the ambitious Mabool. The album deals with the retelling of the Great Flood through the eyes of three sons, one for each major monotheistic relgion (Christian, Jew, and Muslim). The album has wondeful Middle Eastern vibes seamlessly fused with death meal. The album features vocals in English as well as other languages such as Hebrew.

Songs like "Mabool" and "The Storm Still Rages Inside" have great female vocals, and the narrations are eerie. The number of instruments used is mind-boggling, from standard rock fare to violins and a host of Middle Eastern instruments that set OL apart from any other prog band you'll hear. Vocally, there's chanting, clean vocals, death growls, and spoken word. It's nice to hear an album that blends heaviness with atmosphere the way Orphaned Land does. They are like Opeth, only with Eastern influences.

Fans of prog metal can't go wrong with this allbum, especially if you love Opeth. It takes a few listens to fully understand the story and all of the nuances, but it is very rewarding when everything clicks. Parts of it are a little boring, which detracts from the power of the album, but, for the most part, it is a remarkably original record.

Grade: B+

Report this review (#128359)
Posted Friday, July 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Quickly wore out its welcome

"Mabool" is a sprawling and ambitious musical journey. The sticker that came on the CD says "Exotic mysticism meets Middle Eastern metal." Fair enough, I can go with that description. And yet it doesn't work for me. Though they are talented, it's just all too contrived and cheesy I'm afraid.

"Birth Of The Three" begins with a child's voice before the heavy guitar drops. Harsh and clean vocal styles will trade off, as will electric guitar with folksy acoustics, introducing the mixture of styles that will continue throughout the album. The general sound of the rock here is less extreme than some metal bands, more in line with accessible bands like Riverside and Green Carnation. Even the growl portions are not going to scare anyone off as they are more than offset by pleasant singing. "Ocean Land" features some good guitar parts and a cool chanted ending. "The Kiss of Babylon" rocks hard but also features some cool breaks with male/female vocal trades. The synths remain present behind the distorted guitar. "A'salk" is just gorgeous, a Third Ear Band style track with raga rhythms and a beautiful vocal expression. "Halo Dies" quickly becomes the standout rock track on the album with fierce growls expressing the violence of the lyrics. The complexity level rises here in the guitar/drum interplay to a Pain of Salvation level with the shifts and changes. "A Call to Awake" is probably the low point of the album, sounding like cheesy hair metal in places and not very convincing as prog metal. "Building the Ark" begins like a Loreena McKennitt song which is not a bad thing. Or perhaps the choral vocals will remind you of Therion-lite. A pleasant acoustic track. "Norra el Norra" is one of the better songs with interesting rhythm chops in the first half and piano in the latter half. "The Calm Before The Flood" is a shimmering, beautiful instrumental. The first half features a lone nylon-stringed acoustic, the second half adds strings, wind, female voice, and quiet reverb-laden electric. It's an absolute highlight. The wind and the strings lead right into "Mabool" and now we hear rain and thunder as well. Soon the strings fade and full band comes galloping back with harsher male vocals. The synths rise a bit heavier in the mix as "Storm Still Rages" begins. Nice guitar solo around 1:20 that just tears it up for several minutes. Clean vocals alternate with spoken word storytelling about the great flood. This longest track will drift towards the end adding in some pleasant acoustic and choir vocals over the heavy riffs and drums. This song is basically the big finale as "Rainbow" is more of an acoustic "outro" albeit a very pleasant one, with birds chirping over the guitar.

The CD (my version at least) comes with a second bonus disc featuring a live acoustic performance recorded in 2002. This nice document makes this package especially attractive to fans. The material is older stuff, not the music on "Mabool." This is a fair album with some nice moments but ultimately disappointed. The use of traditional instruments and many languages still could not make it compelling to me. It's an interesting album but for me it's not quite a keeper. 5/10

Report this review (#142378)
Posted Saturday, October 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars Ambitious and dynamic, "Mabool" is a metal odyssey from the East with a very unique sound, and should be seriously investigated for fans of heavy music. The music as a whole has a lot in common with contemporary prog-metal, at least in terms of its heavy/dexterous delivery and melodic hooks, but adds a completely new layer of sound with the inclusion of numerous acoustic folk instruments juxtaposed (often in unison) with the crunchy guitar common to the genre; it really is like being transported musically to new regions and has a very exotic feel.

The songs feature a good mix of dynamics and tones, from straightforwardish heavy rockers to purely acoustic Eastern folk music. Musicianship is solid all around, with a fine mix of choral/female vocals as well. Lead vocalist Kobi Farhi sings with a pure, heavily accented voice mixed with passable growling (be warned), which fits the music nicely. The overall effect is more than enough to make me ignore the very Biblical lyrics, since I am usually jamming along to the heavy rhythm and guitar work. A shift in sound occurs as the album progresses, with the heavy riffing transitioning into thoughtfully composed symphonics. The change is very ogranic, and adds a nice variety to what might otherwise be an overwhelming listen.

While not quite on par with some of the more well known metal giants, "Mabool" holds its own well despite a few lulls in the pacing and similar sound to the band's songs.

Recommended for those seeking a fresh sound within the genre.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#142733)
Posted Monday, October 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars This is an absolute amazing CD! Prog metal is way too narrow label for such richness of music, text and perfomance. Ok, there is heavy metal parts alright, but they are just part of the mix that also includes jewish folk, eastern thythms, arab chants, orchestrations, choirs and so forth. This is progressive with a capital P! The music is inspired, powerful, melodic, epic and exciting. Even some death metal growling are included. Usually I don´t like this style of singing but I must admit that in this specific case they work very well. Fortunatly most of the lead vocals are of the ´clean´ type. they remind me of the fantasitic Amorphis album Elegy.

The absolute highlights are the guitar parts, with some very fine, melodic and passionate solos. No weak tracks or fillers of any kind. It is one of those CDs you can hear from beginning to end with pleasure and awe. Progheads might like the Cd´s second part more than the first tracks, though. I really enjoyed the creative arrangements. Special note must be given to the vocals too; the use of female backing vocals, eastern chants, spoken words and choirs is fantastic. Acoustic guitars, ethnic instruments and varied percussion give extra colours to the overall sound. Keyboards are also very wel done. In fact, nothing is out of place here! Everything falls into place smoothly. Production is not spectacular, but more than adequate for this complex piece of work.

My sample has an extra CD with 5 extra tracks recorded live with acoustic instruments only. Here their folk roots are even more proeminent. Very interesting how Orphaned Land´s music works well both on the electric or acoustic format. Nice!

Not really your traditional prog metal record, but a very important and unique CD that will please anyone who is interested in sometihing new. 4,5 stars. Highly recommended!

Report this review (#143716)
Posted Thursday, October 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Not the power-death-progressive masterpiece that a expected, but quite nice anyway.

When I discovered this site a few years ago, I started to download as much mp3 as I could from here. The plan was to have all of the material here, on progarchives, burned on blank cd's, but as I found this idea to be quite stupid, I stopped after burning two ''prog-metal from Progarchives'' mp3-discs. These became very informative though and basically gave start to my prog-metal collection. There were very many artists and songs that cought my ear on these self-made cd-s, Orphaned Land with the song 'Ocean Land' among others. Years later I decided to get the special edition of 'Mabool...' as it had a reasonable price. Now to the point...

It's a fine album, holding many values, as the interesting middle-eastern touch, great melodies here and there and a fitting concept, but there just isn't enough here for me to thouroughly enjoy 'Mabool...'. For one thing, the sound, production-wise, doesn't feel good at all, and this is probably one of the reasons the album gets annoying to listen for a longer period of time. It might be that the music is too 'concentrated' as well and that this eastern-influence is too strong for me to endure for more than a few songs. Anyway, there are good points to the album, but they seem to show themselves better on particular songs, such as 'Ocean Land'. Many songs seem just pointless and dull, uninspired.

The concept is all religion(-mythology)-oriented, but doesn't bother me at all, as some Neal Morse texts usually do.

In comparison to other bands, I find that Orphaned Land is very similar to Therion, as the opera-choir-parts and general atmosphere have quite the same 'feel' in my oppinion. They have a lot in common with Green Carnation and Angra as well. I feel that Orphaned Land doesn't resemble Opeth in many ways at all, except for the use of death-metal vocals (which are very different with the two as well) and for the fact that obviously both can be classified as prog-metal. Style-wise, Orphaned Land mostly plays music with power-, melodic-death-metal, and middle-east folk influences and the mix works quite well.

So, if you find Therion, Green Carnation and Angra to be bands you enjoy very much, this cd would fit you very well I deem, but fans of bands like Opeth should wary.

For a conclusion, I'd say that though I found many enjoyable moments in 'Mabool', I feel that it's simply good, but not in any way excellent or anything near 'masterpiece' status.

Honestly I'd rate this good effort a bit better than 3 stars but feel that it's not worthy of 4. So, let's say 3.5, leaning closer to 3, if you please.

Report this review (#145923)
Posted Friday, October 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Orphaned Land seems to me a band for which the meaning of their songs and their music is (very) important. It seems to me a band that wants to make statements. Unfortunately I'm a progressive fan who is only interested in the music and what it sounds like (a bit shallow maybe but alas). In this case I know this band is from Israel but really I don't know what their political direction is (somehow that seems important to me if you're from Israel but I could be mistaking) and in the end it's not too important if you only care about music.

With Orphaned Land it's not even possible to find out what they are all saying in their songs because it's partly sung in Hebrew and I'm not a jew (or studied Hebrew) so I haven't got a clue. And there we have the problem I have with this album, it's a bit too folky for me, not just the lyrics but also the instrumental aspect. Of course that can be interesting and it's highly original to say the least but it's not my thing.

On the other hand there are some very positive aspects too, for instance the guitar playing (Storm still rages inside !!!) and the fresh sound of the band. This album is an enjoyable listen for more than an hour but like I said I'm being poised between positive and negative elements with this album. The logical conclusion would be 3 stars and that's what it will be.

By the way: the title track is also very interesting with the classical start. Really nice.

Report this review (#148245)
Posted Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars A progressive metal band that offers a subtle attack rather than full-frontal assault, ORPHANED LAND conquer with this, their third album.

'Mabool' is a unique album. It marries progressive metal - not quite death metal, as some think - with Middle-Eastern sounds. Further, the inclusive, conciliatory lyrics will appeal to all who wish that troubled region well. This said, it takes more than interesting sounds and laudable sentiments to make a masterpiece. ORPHANED LAND may have a masterpiece within them, but this isn't quite it. The lyrics can be a little shallow and twee on occasion, and the music is often unconvincing, sounding more like a pastiche than a true western-eastern hybrid. Despite the growling vocals I'm reminded far more of DREAM THEATER than I am of OPETH or the other namechecked bands these lads are compared to. Like DREAM THEATER, some of their ideas work and some don't. The result is a rather uneven album.

This album is well worth tracking down and listening to if you are a fan of progressive metal. I can't see it as a masterpiece, and it's not quite a four-star album, but a very solid three star effort. I very much hope the band continues on to make the magnum opus they're undoubtedly capable of.

Report this review (#149199)
Posted Tuesday, November 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Mabool - The Story Of The Three Sons Of Seven is the third album of the band from Israel called Orphaned Land. Here we see a very special prog metal album, since it don't fall in the same categories as progressive metal, because of its obvious heavy guitars, neither falls under the extreme progressive metal, because of its also heavy vocals.However, to call this Israeli band as experimental metal is also wrong, because of 2 things: the experimentation that they are making here is not as big as this genre supposes and and they have been doing the same kind of music ever since they began the band, with obvious quality increases. The exact genre of this band is progressive folk metal, but, under the circumstances present at this web site, experimental metal will just have to do the job.

But enough about this sub-genre gibberish. Lets talk about music here. As i said before, Orphaned Land have the heaviness of metal, presented in their crushing guitars and growling - like vocals, but still have that folk feeling, presented in their melodies, that are noticeably influenced by traditional arab and jewish music , use of traditional instruments of the middle - east, lyrics in hebraic and the whole progression of the album, which (the album) have a incredible feeling of having beginning, middle and end.

To top all that, the lyrical theme of the album is about some kind of mythological birth of the three main monotheist religions and about the story of the world flood that made Noe build the arc. Very unique approach of such touchy and dangerous theme, specially on the middle east, where religious understanding and tolerance are things with such a short supply. That approach caused the album to be a concept album.

Overall Rating: Joining the terrific music, great lyrics, great theme for an album, great approach of the lyrics and with a very balanced amount of heavy and soft songs, this album is for sure a masterpiece of its own and completely deserves the 5 star rating.

Report this review (#164785)
Posted Sunday, March 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Not much more I can add to the breakdown of the songs. I must admit after seeing these guys live a couple of years back - I was impressed by their energy and enthusiasm. The album is certainly a rocker - and if you can get past the semi-death vocalisations it is a rewarding listen. There is certainly a variation here with the obvious Middle - Eastern influences predominately on show. I like to crack this one open occasionally and the exuberance of the album never fails to disappoint. I have given this album 4 stars - ultimately it is worth slightly less simply due to the fact of the accessibility of the vocals. If you are a fan of prog metal and like the growls more than clean vocals you certainly cannot go too far wrong with purchasing Mabool... otherwise I would listen to a couple of the free MP3s out in the ether before commiting to buy.
Report this review (#173295)
Posted Sunday, June 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars ahh, now this is a fine, fine metal album. everything, from the melodies to the arrangements, lyrics, and production, is refined and perfected. well, except for the vocals, where I have some complaints: basically, the lead singer uses both clean vocals, growled vocals, and sometimes he just reads the lyrics. the clean vocals are excellent (except for the israeli accent, which is a bit annoying, sometimes), but the growls, despite being good most of the time, get a weird, 'flat', feel when the singer tries to hold a single note for more then a few seconds. also, the parts where the singer reads the lyrics are recorded in a stupid way, sounding like a radio host talking. I also think that there are places where the choir vocals were too loud in the mix.

But other then those complaints, it's all terrific! Appearently, the band spent 7 years (!) working on this album and it really shows: the guitar solos are absolutely incredible throughout (especially on 'Ocean Land' and 'The Storm Still Rages Inside'), the drumming is intelligent and non-trivial without damaging the songs, the keyboards manage to create atmospheric sound layers without sounding cheezy (take that, wakeman!), and the arrangements and songwriting are wonderfully layered and diverse (this isn't an empty statement. this is one of the most eclectic albums I have ever heard, mixing various types of metal with everything from middle-eastern music to Progressive rock, celtic music, classical music, electronic music, Jewish music and a bunch other stuff I can't put my finger on at the moment). the instrumentation is also unbelivably diverse and complex: you'll hear distorted guitars and keyboards backed with drums and bass topped by violins, pianos, cellos, flutes, acoustic guitars, percussion, buzuki, saz, oud, and other instruments whose name escapes me. and the band was able to make all of these instruments work together without interrupting each other or harming the overall direction, creating a VERY rich and dynamic listening experience.

Highlights aplenty: The aggressive riffs and amazing guitar solo on 'Ocean Land', the up-lifting na-na- na vocals on 'The Kiss Of Babylon', the opera-like 'character impersonating' and Dream Theater-esque instrumental section that end 'A Call To Awake', the ethnic instrumentation on 'Building the Ark', the fantastic piano solo on 'Norra El Norra', the folkish string ensemble that opens the title track, the long, beautiful guitar solo on 'The Storm Still Rages Inside', and many, many more.

Overall, this is one of the best metal album of the last ten years, and definetly one of the best prog- metal albums ever. stunning. 5/5

Report this review (#176421)
Posted Wednesday, July 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm not a death metal fan.

I can hardly stand growling except in very small amounts and in the right places.

Turns out, Orphaned Land might not fulfill that qualification of only growling in small amounts (not that it is excessive or even a majority on the album), but they certainly do know when to put that out on the table. Mabool is a massive concept album with years of work put into it--and those years do show up in the level of quality throughout this bit. I've looked and looked, but no other band seems to be able to combine so many elements and so many layers and still have the music be completely listenable. Well, no surprise based on how I started this review, but this album toys with genius and tosses it aside to go higher up the ladder.

There is a very involved, very deep sort of story and message going throughout this album, one to do with the divisions of religions, especially the three that are tearing Orphaned Land's home area of Israel apart. And speaking of Israel, the Middle Eastern and Semitic sounds give this album a sound much more complex than simple progressive symphonic death metal. Instruments that I couldn't begin to spell take the lead throughout this release, and the album soars because of it.

Also of note are the vocals. The male vocals range from death growls to a very pleasant tenor sort of voice (I think tenor, but then, I've never been in choir). The female vocals give this album a wonderful punch that it would be sadly lacking without. Shlomit Levi, as the listing above states her name, has a powerful and chill-producing voice. Especially at the end of The Kiss of Babylon. Between the males and this lady, the band offers sweeping melodies and harmonies, such as the small choir feel of Norra El Norra. On the same level as these vocalists is the wild lead guitar, which deals in turn death and mayhem and gentle softness. The solo in The Storm Still Rages Inside lasts several minutes and still to this day does not get old in the slightest.

There are all sorts of things that can be said for this terrific release. In the end, though, it is simply a mature, intelligent, layered, complicated, and straight up metal release, not one to be missed by anyone who can enjoy some high brow metal (and deal with a spot of death growling, in maybe five of the tracks).

Report this review (#184019)
Posted Sunday, September 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Five Stars: Without a Doubt one of the most Creative pieces ever

I came across Orphaned Land completely by chance. I was looking at Progressive Death Metal type videos on youtube, and it was in one of the related videos. I am SO glad that I stumbled upon Orphaned Land. So far, Mabool is the only album I've been able to listen to, and it is a vision of perfection. The progressiveness in Mabool comes in its artistic and unique use of traditional elements. It just has so many different things to add to the pot, so many memorable sounds. I am a huge fan of traditional music, basically whatever it is, Folk music from Norway, Old symphonies from the 1800s, bagpipe music, etc. In Orphaned Land's case, it is Middle Eastern Music, which is some of the most Enchanting. It brings the feelings of those old legends from the Middle East that you've heard of... the magic of the One Thousand and One Nights (or Arabian Nights) ...stories like Aladdin and old biblical tales.

It of course combines this with a good dose of heavy metal, in particularly death metal. For the longest time I hated Death Metal growling vocals, until I realized that its use can sometimes add to the drama or feeling to it, and that it was a very artistic way to sing if you did it properly, which got me into bands such as Opeth. In fact, Orphaned Land is kinda Opeth like, in my opinion. But it has a constantly melodic side that does not seem to be unbalanced with the death metal. Death growls, clean vocals, choruses, and Female singers are used perfectly together.

On top of the excellent musicianship, comes the incredible story that is told along this album. This album is a Rock Opera, which flows constantly together, narrating the story of the Three Sons of Seven. These sons are the sons of the Abrahamic religions, who try to warn people about the coming flood, to no avail. In a way, the story kinda reminds me of Ayreon's The Final Experiment except a different musical style, and different setting.

This is an album of perfection, the only thing though is that because it is a rock opera that flows together with one another, you don't really remember a single song out of all the others... You just remember what the general album sounded like as you listened to it through, and therefore, it's hard to tell which songs you love and which you don't care about. You'll have a hard time listening to a single song because you don't like to split up the storyline, etc. And you can't think of which one to listen to, because all the songs are incredible. A lot of rock operas are like this, and few rock operas have single songs that are capable of being on their own. This is not a problem at all... it's just that at least for me, I have to listen to this album from beginning to end all the time, I can never pick out a song from it.

Nevertheless this is an amazing album, a pure masterpiece. It's a wonder it is not THAT well known. It definitely should be. Then again, people nowadays seem to not understand how to appreciate true art, which is why prog is underground now... lol.


Report this review (#207104)
Posted Saturday, March 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars After hearing the latest album by Orphaned Land but by curiosity I tried to feel Mabol. I can not deny that it has caused a strange effect. I felt and suffered, until you reach the conclusion that the transaction is musically enjoyable. It is not easy to make a good record without playing any kind of music, or if you prefer everyone. Singing metal, with a typical hard rock sound, adding a little 'sound popular throughout the Arab-Jewish tradition, I can remember even Alan Stivell Olympia with Celtic atmosphere (really), some flamenco moment,why not? Open with barely a few moments of jazz rock, symphonic overture a bit impromptu , a touch of Breetish Steel of Judas here and there sung by Opeth to dress the whole and the disc is done. It is not my idea of music but I admit that I enjoy the disc, if taken in small doses, and 4 stars for the courage to give it. Patton is not the singer but he copes well in all genres and is a lot. A disk eventually more classic than it looks, played with heart and eleganza.I repeat is not my thing but I enjoyed. Zorn is open mind...
Report this review (#284636)
Posted Wednesday, June 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Orphaned Land's third album seems to have taken both the critics and regular listeners by storm with their unique mix between Progressive metal and Jewish/Arabic influences. On top of supposedly expanding the boundaries of metal genre Mabool - The Story Of The Three Sons Of Seven also features a pretty well arranged concept that lingers all throughout the album. So how could I possibly give this release anything less than my warmest recommendation? Simply because the music isn't as good as all of the above factors might make it out to be!

The album features straightforward melodic metal with a little growl and middle eastern music thrown into the mix. What I'm basically saying is that growl and middle eastern music is mainly used as a gimmick here for making the material sound more ambitious than what it actually turns out to be. I'm not really taken by this music since it isn't all that technical or ambitious in its structure, instead relying heavily on melodic hooks to keep the listeners attention. Aside from a few very beautiful melodies and the concept itself there's just not much else I have to gain from this album.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for mixing sounds and styles especially when its done to create something new and interesting. All this recording needed to do in order to fulfill this criteria was to add a prolonged jam session where the Jewish/Arabic influences would have received a few prominent moments in the spotlight. Surprisingly enough this just never happens. Instead we get tracks like Halo Dies (The Wrath of God) and A Call To Awake (The Quest) that sound like complete parodies of the metal genre. Not really a smart choice on Orphaned Land's part considering that they themselves are playing by those exact rules.

Fortunately the music gets better with time and the last 30 minutes of the album, starting with Nora El Nora (Entering The Ark), does deliver a few moments where the band's middle eastern influences actually sound natural enough for me to see them as an important aspect of the music. The song trilogy right towards the end gives the album's concept a great ending which I find a bit undeserving for the mixed bag of an album that preceded it.

To me, Mabool - The Story Of The Three Sons Of Seven seems like an ambitious album that just doesn't deliver on all of its promising components. This is something that I'm sure could have been fixed by a bit more work on blending the subparts of the band's style into a coherent and natural mix. But seeing that this album took such a hefty chunk of time to complete we might as well wait and see if the band will improve with their next release.

**** star songs: Birth Of The Three (The Unification) (6:58) Ocean Land (The Revelation) (4:44) The Kiss Of Babylon (The Sins) (7:24) A'salk (2:05) Building The Ark (5:02) Nora El Nora (Entering The Ark) (4:24) The Calm Before The Flood (4:25) Mabool (The Flood) (7:00) The Storm Still Rages Inside (9:20) Rainbow (The Resurrection) (3:01)

*** star songs: Halo Dies (The Wrath of God) (7:30) A Call To Awake (The Quest) (6:10)

Report this review (#285511)
Posted Monday, June 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Orphaned Land's third album contains quality mix of doom progressive metal and Middle East folk. Proportion of both is almost 50/50, and besides of that vocals are non-metal at all. The music is melodic, well played, but too polished (for metal).

Obviously with progressive elements in it, music too often is too poppy. Eastern power metal? But no, even not that - during all album long I feel metal elements are added more as fashion, outside attribute, but music itself lives without it. Metal for listeners who don't like metal?

Not that again. Possibly, it is melodic and exotic heavy mix for those who're searching for accessible songs ,but with some doze of heavy metal in it. I am not a big progressive metal fan, but I really like some interesting works, especially with experimental moments. This album is not from such category: besides of rare combination of Middle Eastern folklore with very conservative power metal, you will hardly find there any unusual sound or rhythm. Very comfortable conservative album with Eastern spices to attract listener.

Not bad, but far from innovative or even just interesting. And so polished!

My rating is 2,5, rounded to 3.

Report this review (#293008)
Posted Sunday, August 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars The calm before the storm still raging inside

Orphaned Land produces a brilliant and truly unique fusion of Prog Metal, Oriental/Middle-Eastern traditional Folk music, and even some Symphonic progressive Rock. I very much enjoy successful fusions of Folk music and progressive Rock or Metal and Orphaned Land is one of the very few bands that really pull it off without sounding either messy or cheesy. The fact that they sing in various languages (English, Hebrew, Latin and more) and various styles (clean male and female vocals as well as Death Metal growls!), it is very easy to be led to believe that the end result is a complete mess. While it did indeed sound a little bit "messy" on the first couple of listens, this impression quickly faded away and the very strong material a very well thought-out structures revealed themselves.

Mabool: The Story Of The Three Sons Of Seven is a concept album and this is one of the several things that helps keep it all together very nicely. The concept is the biblical story of the flood. The material is powerful and varied with recurring themes and many interesting twists and turns.

Even if I usually dislike growling vocals, I quickly grew to like this album a lot. Indeed, I am very impressed by this ground-breaking and unique blend of styles to create something brand new. Finding comparisons with other bands is not easy, but I instantly think of another band when hearing Orphaned Land: the great Irish Celtic Metal band Cruachan. Not because they sound similar as such - they certainly don't! - but because they both successfully fuse (extreme) Metal with some form of traditional music and giving these elements about equal space. Both also have some symphonic Prog elements. While Cruachan builds on the Irish/Celtic mythology, history and musical tradition, Orphaned Land, as I've said already, builds upon their own (they hail from Israel) cultural background in their ethnic and Folk influences. Both bands also, despite their extreme Metal background, had some kind of commercial "hit" songs (at least in their home markets); Cruachan with Ride On and Orphaned Land with Nora El Nora (Entering The Ark).

Very highly recommended!

Report this review (#451178)
Posted Sunday, May 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Middle-Eastern Promises

Six years in the making, the third studio release from ground-breaking Israeli band Orphaned Land finally arrives.

A couple of years ago my music collection had become a little bit saturated with progressive metal so I decided to take a bit of a 'sabbatical' and spend more time exploring other musical avenues. Around about the same time a friend of kept going on and on about this band Orphaned Land and their album that I simply 'had' to listen to. After a while I eventually gave in and gave it a spin (more to shut him up than anything else!) and I think I ended up listening to "Mabool" four times in a row that same day.

It blew my mind and still does. Its not just the fact that their unique fusion of doom/death metal and middle-eastern folk blend together perfectly, but the overall quality of the release makes it one of the very finest concept albums I have ever heard. The story follows the path of three sons of God, each representing one of the Abrahamic religions on their quest to save humanity from their sins. Whilst the story itself is unimportant, the pseudo-union of the band's multiple faiths shows the power that music can have in these uncertain times, not least within the Middle East.

Every single track is a winner and the combined effect is just sensational. Soaring guitars, atmospheric synths and haunting vocals line the album which is segmented with hypnotic grooves, folk interludes and celestial choruses. I've said it before but the sound is completely fresh and completely cohesive, the coming of age for what has now become known as oriental metal. Standout tracks include, well, just about everything! But especially Halo Dies, Norra el Norra and The Storm Still Rages Inside.

The Verdict: Stunning.

Report this review (#512477)
Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Mabool - How to write a brilliant concept album, mix prog metal with eastern folk, and retell a biblical story.

If you are planning on composing a concept album, you should first think of a theme. Let's say, water. You'd include sounds tipical of water, maybe the current of a river, rainfall, or crushing waves. Maybe you'll write dreamy acoustic riffs reminiscent of underwater exploration, or heavy metal passages resembling a storm. Then, you'd add lyrics common throughout the album, and some kind of musical fanfare that are recurrent in the songs.

Well, these guys, instead of water, chose the biblical story of the Flood.

Kiss of Babylon is one of the greatest examples of this. If you add salt and water in a cup, you'll have a cup of salty water, but you won't be able to distinguish between each substance. Orphaned Land did the same with prog metal and eastern-arabic folk. And also with the lyrics.

And to top it off, the technicality is amazing, the solos, the double bass drum, everything.

All in all, I think this is a surprising album, that needs to be known in prog circles worldwide - a true prog metal gem.

PS: the beginning of "Mabool (The Flood)" is simply mezmerizing. These guys are genius.

Report this review (#513282)
Posted Friday, September 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Personally, I just can't get aboard Orphaned Land's Mabool. Despite being their most acclaimed album and hailed as a classic fusion of progressive metal and traditional music, on listening to it I can't really see it as anything other than a thin veneer of occasional Middle Eastern traditional music motifs over what is actually a fairly standard progressive metal sound, rather than a fundamental fusion of traditional music and metal as accomplished by some works of Mr Bungle or Secret Chiefs 3. It's a fun enough album, but I really don't think it's the creative breakthrough it's often made out to be.
Report this review (#662553)
Posted Saturday, March 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a truly extraordinary concept album, that mixes musical cultures in an incredibly unique way. Not only is the music fascinating, but the story of Mabool is as well: telling the tale of three sons (angels) of the Seventh (Seventh son of God), representing the three major religions of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Each of these angels has a power and a symbol: the angel representing Judaism is represented by the Star of David, and his power is magic. The angel of Islam is represented by a half moon, and his power is strength. The angel of Christianity is represented by a cross and his power is wisdom. In the plot of this album, the three angels have a mission to warn humanity of their sin, and prevent war. They fail to do so, and humanity is punished with the flood. It is quite an interesting concept, and the music is no less interesting. Orphaned Land has an uncanny ability to blend styles of many cultures, and they integrate traditional instruments from these cultures, and even sing in multiple languages throughout the album. Occasionally, they even use traditional pieces of music and reinterpret them in their own unique Oriental Metal style. All in all, this is a thrilling ride that will take the listener on a journey unlike any they've ever experienced.
Report this review (#727132)
Posted Saturday, April 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An Israeli heavy rock, almost metal, sometimes extreme tech/doom metal (due to the presence of growl vocals), Orphaned Land have produced a powerful album that tells a Biblical story (familiar to most of us as "Noah and the Ark"). Musically, this is a masterpiece of matching music to the various chapters of the story. The mixed vocals (growls, English, Israeli [?], choral) approach, however, sometimes fails to match the mood of the scene so well as the music. The second half of the album is by far the most engaging, moving, and masterful. Definitely my favorite Orphaned Land album.

Album highlights: the choir-assisted "Building the Ark" (5:02) (10/10); the acoustic guitar based instrumental "The Calm Before the Flood" (4:25) (8/10); the heavy "Mabool (The Flood) (6:59) (9/10), and; the gorgeous melodies of "The Storm Still Rages Inside" (9:20) (9/10).

Report this review (#837561)
Posted Saturday, October 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
2 stars Bands like Secret Chiefs 3, System Of A Down and my favorite prog metal band FROM the Middle East ' Myrath have much a better Middle Eastern / Rock / Metal fusion sound than this. I don't find the material here very interesting and it seems like one of those paint-by-numbers type of albums. The lofty concept just doesn't seem like it is matched with songwriting quality. The songs that work best for me are the less metal ones. The growly vocals remind me of Unexpect. The occasional keyboard runs remind me of Dream Theater.

When I read about this it sounds like it should be great but when I listen to this I don't understand the hype. This certainly isn't the worst thing i've heard and there are some good moments but after 67 minutes of this it gets very tedious and well boring. If they would have trimmed this down a bit and edited a lot I might like this more but then again they need to add something to spice this up as well. I haven't heard any other albums by ORPHANED LAND but after finally hearing this release I can't say i'm in a hurry to either.

Report this review (#1078404)
Posted Sunday, November 17, 2013 | Review Permalink

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