It took Orphaned Land eight years from El Norra Alila to get to 2004’s masterpiece Mabool. After that, they took another six years to arrive at The Never Ending Way of ORWarriOR in 2010. When you do the math, you might come to think there is something off with this three year gap between ORWarriOR and the brand new album All Is One. I’m glad to announce that All Is One is a great album, although I definitely have some niggles about it. Let’s talk about those for a minute.
If you cast a quick glance at the track listing below, the songs, overall, are shorter than what we’ve come to expect from the Israelian band, and although I have seen it written a number of times that Orphaned Land has “lost the metal in their music,” I don’t want to be quite that negative. What All Is One is, though, is a more focused and accessible album than the last two epic juggernauts. The songs are shorter and more radio friendly, even if there’s still some very heavy riffing abound here. What has gone, however, are the death grunts and growls, and the more heavy, metallic edge. Whilst never a true death metal band, Orphaned Land could surprise in the past by throwing in some more extreme stuff when you least expected that. That contrast between melody and aggressiveness is now gone (much like on Opeth’s last album).
Luckily, All Is One is still a very solid album, and there are a number or songs on them that are still as typical as you’d expect from the band. Starting off with the double whammy All Is One and The Simple Man, the album cuts right to the chase and delivers some very straight rock/metal, and these are two very catchy tunes indeed. There are great melodies all over the album, and it’s good to immediately be assured that the band has also stuck with the subtle orchestration, which still gives the music that distinct Eastern feel.
The biggest problem with this new album is that it all feels too polished. Only on Fail does Orphaned Land break out of what sounds like a very contained box, and delivers some truly old-fashioned metal, and it’s the only place where All Is One gets truly heavy. It’s also the only place where Kobi Fahri throws in that familiar death growl again. The rest of the album, whilst good, sounds a bit over-produced and safe.
In the end, Orphaned Land’s fifth album is still very good, but it misses a certain edge, and that distinct spark that made past efforts into almost flawless masterpieces. All Is One is an album many bands out there would kill their own mother for to be able to release it, but for Orphaned Land, it feels strangely sub-par. Then again, perhaps I’m just being unfair in my disappointment here, and maybe the album will grow on me in time. All Is One is a fantastic album, but only a great Orphaned Land album, and I do think that’s the weirdest piece of criticism I have ever given anything, especially because it’s still an album I wholeheartedly recommend.
Label: Century Media
- All Is One (4:30)
- The Simple Man (4:54)
- Brother (4:56)
- Let The Truce Be Known (5:31)
- Through Fire And Water (4:09)
- Fail (6:03)
- Freedom (3:18)
- Shama’im (3:56)
- Ya Benaye (4:37)
- Our Own Messiah (5:21)
- Children (7:08)
- As I Stare At The Ocean Alone (6:16)
- All Is One (Turkish) (4:32)
- Children (With Arabic Chorus) (7:08)
- Kobi Farhi – vocals, leading chants, growls, narrations, choir & backing vocals
- Yossi Sassi – electric & acoustic guitars, oud, saz, bouzouki, chumbush, backing vocals
- Chen Balbus – electric, acoustic guitars & bouzouki, backing vocals, piano, xylophone
- Uri Zelcha – electric, acoustic & fretless bass
- Matan Shmuely – drums, percussion
Review by Ralph Plug