Gildan's Guide to Good Music: Orphaned Land - The Never Ending Way Of ORwarriOR

Gildan's Guide to Good Music

Salutations fellow denizens of the interwebs! For my own amusement (and because khaimera suggested it after I started recommending music to the fine folks of Adults Anonymous), I've decided to try my hand at composing an article here in the ever so appropriated titled "User Reviews" section of our fine forums. For those readers unfamiliar with my charming, handsome, and not at all rampantly egotistical personage, here are a few salient factoids:
    1. I'm a music snob - if you've heard of it (where "you" are average person on the street), I probably hate it. If it plays on the radio? I most likely consider it to be a cultural pollutant and I'm judging you right now for liking it (unless you don't, but I'll probably still find ample reasons to judge you anyways).

    2. I'm a music nerd with highly eclectic tastes - I love discovering bands and learning pointless trivia about them, and there are very few genres of music I consider to be entirely without merit; my snobbery stems not from any obnoxious "Indier than thou" cred I try to maintain, but a simple recognition of Sturgeon's law at work - if we accept that 90% of everything is crap, what does that make music that's aimed at 90% of the population? Crap, that's what.

    3. I have borderline OCD - if I make it to the end of the week with only 3 new albums entering my collection, I have exhibited an uncharacteristic level of restraint. Consequently, I know about a bloody ton of excellent but relatively obscure music.


For the metaphorical maiden voyage of my guide to the world of good music, I've chosen to highlight what I consider to be the best album of 2010 that you've never heard of (where "you" are just about anyone in the USA, Orphaned Land have a more active (though still quite niche) following across the pond).

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Orphaned Land

The Never Ending Way Of ORwarriOR

Musical Genre: Progressive/Folk/Death Metal
Running Time: 78 minutes
# of Tracks: 15
Particularly noteworthy songs: From Broken Vessels

If you saw the Death Metal part of that genre description and instantly wrote me off as yet another overly sanctimonious metal-head preaching about the technical virtuosity of Death Metal and how it's really extremely nuanced angry noise blah blah blah etc, slap yourself for making a stupid snap judgement and then relax, I don't even like Death Metal bands, and Orphaned Land most certainly isn't one.

Nor, for that matter, are they a Folk Metal band - though they are considered to be pioneers of the Oriental sub genre of Folk metal (oriental used here in the old sense of the term, as Orphaned Land hail from Israel). No, what they are is a Progressive Metal band through and through, albeit one that melds elements of traditional Jewish and Arabic folk music into their sound, with some Death/Doom metal thrown in for good measure.

The end result is a band that doesn't really sound quite like anything else (though the Tunisian prog-metal band Myrath is broadly similar in places, as they both use Middle Eastern folk music as a part of their sound) - you have all the artful excess of prog-metal acts with a decidedly Middle Eastern flair, that occasionally breaks into the growls of Death/Doom metal in a fashion I actually find myself enjoying (which is noteworthy as I don't really like growling in general).

So that's the band - what about the album? The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR is a concept album about a conceptual warrior of light battling the darkness, though like most concept albums it doesn't really matter whether you actually knew that or not prior to listening to it, or indeed, if you listen to it in order - the songs are quite capable of standing on their own. And at 78 minutes running time, you get your money's worth from this album.

The opening mimics switching on and tuning a radio, playing the initial theme with a tinny low-fidelity sound delivered by a female guest vocalist for a few moments before the band proper kicks in with an interesting and upbeat folk theme that builds off the quiet opening. That song then ends on the sound of a dial-tone, which transitions us into the superlative (and long, it's 8 minutes all together) From Broken Vessels, where they break out the death metal vocals for the first time on the album, interlacing the growling with clean vocal 'responses' and a bridge with the lyrics that give the song its name, before leaving the growling behind in an extended instrumental section with a very odd repeating riff that segues into the fantastic mid-section of the track, wherein they actually found a way to incorporate an Agent Smith quote without it coming across as silly (specifically "I hate this place, this prison, this zoo, this reality, whatever you want to call it"). I had to stop the song so I could track down a captive audience to regale with how awesome/hilarious that was, such was my glee when I noticed.

I would go on describing the rest of that track (and the others on the album), but you really need to listen to it for yourself - if you're still reading this, you either have a morbid sense of curiosity, or you found my inelegant descriptions of their sound intriguing and are probably the audience this band is trying to reach so I should stop rambling and make with the linking already.



You either really hated that (in which case you are wrong, because I like it and it is therefore awesome), or I just made your day by showing you something awesome you did not know existed (in which case you are welcome). Either way, thanks for reading Gildan's Guide to Good Music, where I am always right (also, awesome) I call attention to anything and everything that isn't crap. Happy listening folks!

Other entries in Gildan's Guide to Good Music

Guilt Machine - On This Perfect Day
Ride The Sky - New Protection
Karmakanic - Who's The Boss In The Factory?
The Romanovs - ...And The Moon Was Hungry...
Within Temptation - The Heart Of Everything
Penumbra - Seclusion
Octavia Sperati - Grace Submerged
Virgin Black - Requiem - Mezzo Forte
Allen/Lande - The Battle
Devin Townsend Project - Addicted
Todesbonden - Sleep Now, Quiet Forest
Beyond Twilight - Section X
Katatonia - Night Is The New Day
After Forever - After Forever
The 69 Eyes - Back In Blood
Red Circuit - Homeland
Hurt - Vol. 1
Myrath - Desert Call
Ayreon - The Human Equation
Nocturnal Rites - The 8th Sin
Witchbreed - Heretic Rapture
Arjen A. Lucassen's Star One - Victims Of The Modern Age
Agua de Annique - Pure Air
Joe Bonamassa - The Ballad of John Henry
Taal - Skymind

Want to be notified whenever I post a new Guide to Good Music article? Well now you can join the Guide to Good Music notification service group, and receive a notification whenever I post a new Guide to Good Music article! Huzzah.

Well, my download of the album has already started, so I suppose you sold me on it. I liked this, we need more music reviews on this site. So, on the whole, well done! Maybe consider making this a weekly thing? I'm always up for some new, obscure music.

SonicKoala:
Well, my download of the album has already started, so I suppose you sold me on it. I liked this, we need more music reviews on this site. So, on the whole, well done! Maybe consider making this a weekly thing? I'm always up for some new, obscure music.

This post earns you a high-five (alas, only a metaphorical one until somebody invents a way to high-five over the internet), and my congratulations on having excellent taste. Seriously, that was quite literally the best possible response I could have hoped for and it was the very first reply - you've just made my... really early morning? Egad, I had no idea it was 5AM already.

No promises on this becoming a weekly feature, but I do plan on making more of them at some point in the not so distant future.

This looks oddly familiar... hmmm

Stranger of Sorts:
This looks oddly familiar... hmmm

Ha, it doesn't just look familiar (as I've quite clearly based my layout on the structure of your review thread, albeit modified to suit my aesthetic preferences and using different methodology to produce similar results), I actually started it by just quoting your review of Them Crooked Vultures so I'd have a framework I could overhaul.

In the end the right-justified album cover is the only element I left intact (you really picked the perfect dimensions for that string of BBCode), but yeah, the similarities are quite intentional as I rather liked your reviews (not so much what you were reviewing, but the reviews themselves). Imitation is after all the sincerest form of flattery!

Great review. Glad I could help provide some inspiration. You have an engaging writing style. You are kind of long winded but highly readable, like me I think.

I'll check it out, as it sounds like something I would enjoy, and the review sold it to me. But one question, are the clean vocals any good, and do they use the same song-structure as Opeth (heavy, breakdown, calm)?

Gildan Bladeborn:

Stranger of Sorts:
This looks oddly familiar... hmmm

Ha, it doesn't just look familiar (as I'm quite clearly based my layout on the structure of your review thread, albeit modified to suit my aesthetic preferences and using different methodology to produce similar results), I actually started it by just quoting your review of Them Crooked Vultures so I'd have a framework I could overhaul.

In the end the right-justified album cover is the only element I left intact (you really picked the perfect dimensions for that string of BBCode), but yeah, the similarities are quite intentional as I rather liked your reviews (not so much what you were reviewing, but the reviews themselves). Imitation is after all the sincerest form of flattery!

Don't worry about it, I'm glad that someone is reviewing music that I'm far from an expert in. By the way I've taken up your request of The Odyssey, I've downloaded it and everything but finding enough time to listen to it is another matter. Should be done within a week though.

Njaard:
I'll check it out, as it sounds like something I would enjoy, and the review sold it to me. But one question, are the clean vocals any good, and do they use the same song-structure as Opeth (heavy, breakdown, calm)?

Yes to the first part of your question - the lead male vocalist has a nice voice that really fits the music, and the guest female vocals and choirs are also excellent (and ethnic!). As for the song structure, I'm only broadly familiar with Opeth (though I've heard Mikael sing with various other bands from time to time - he was one of the guest vocalists on the fantastic The Human Equation for example), but if I had to take a stab at it I'd suggest the answer to that part is no.

Opeth is a melodic-death metal band first and a progressive metal band second from what I've seen from them, while Orphaned Land are a progressive metal band that just uses some stylistic elements of death metal (and a heaping helping of folk). As a result of that, I couldn't even begin to describe their average song structure - because, as with most prog-rock/metal, there isn't one to describe in the first place (the "average" progressive rock structure is generally just the phrase "the music happens here" and a picture of a groovy rainbow).

I can tell you that the use of heavier vocals isn't an omnipresent part of their sound though - out of the first 7 tracks, harsh vocals only show up on 3. So yeah, don't go in expecting the heavy verse, melodic chorus feel that melo-death bands typically have, because the heavy vocals might be used on almost the entire song, as isolated lines interspersed with instrumentals, the primary voice of the verse with quick melodic counterpoints singing in parallel, or not at all - and quite frankly the verse/chorus structure is barely applicable to begin with.

It makes for music that is pure ear candy for me but also rather hard to explain without playing it for somebody - ergo I shall conclude by suggesting you click the spoiler box in my article and give the tracks I embedded a spin.

Stranger of Sorts:

Don't worry about it, I'm glad that someone is reviewing music that I'm far from an expert in. By the way I've taken up your request of The Odyssey, I've downloaded it and everything but finding enough time to listen to it is another matter. Should be done within a week though.

Oh cool, but I wasn't actually the one who requested that, I was just agreeing with them when they said Symphony X is awesome. I've probably heard tracks from The Odyssey on my Pandora station every so often, but the only Symphony X albums I'm really familiar with are The Divine Wings of Tragedy and Paradise Lost (since those are the ones I own).

I'm interested to hear what you think of it, might convince me to move it off my "list o' things I probably want" and into the collection proper.

Gildan Bladeborn:

Njaard:
I'll check it out, as it sounds like something I would enjoy, and the review sold it to me. But one question, are the clean vocals any good, and do they use the same song-structure as Opeth (heavy, breakdown, calm)?

Yes to the first part of your question - the lead male vocalist has a nice voice that really fits the music, and the guest female vocals and choirs are also excellent (and ethnic!). As for the song structure, I'm only broadly familiar with Opeth (though I've heard Mikael sing with various other bands from time to time - he was one of the guest vocalists on the fantastic The Human Equation for example), but if I had to take a stab at it I'd suggest the answer to that part is no.

Opeth is a melodic-death metal band first and a progressive metal band second from what I've seen from them, while Orphaned Land are a progressive metal band that just uses some stylistic elements of death metal (and a heaping helping of folk). As a result of that, I couldn't even begin to describe their average song structure - because, as with most prog-rock/metal, there isn't one to describe in the first place (the "average" progressive rock structure is generally just the phrase "the music happens here" and a picture of a groovy rainbow).

I can tell you that the use of heavier vocals isn't an omnipresent part of their sound though - out of the first 7 tracks, harsh vocals only show up on 3. So yeah, don't go in expecting the heavy verse, melodic chorus feel that melo-death bands typically have, because the heavy vocals might be used on almost the entire song, as isolated lines interspersed with instrumentals, the primary voice of the verse with quick melodic counterpoints singing in parallel, or not at all - and quite frankly the verse/chorus structure is barely applicable to begin with.

It makes for music that is pure ear candy for me but also rather hard to explain without playing it for somebody - ergo I shall conclude by suggesting you click the spoiler box in my article and give the tracks I embedded a spin.

Stranger of Sorts:

Don't worry about it, I'm glad that someone is reviewing music that I'm far from an expert in. By the way I've taken up your request of The Odyssey, I've downloaded it and everything but finding enough time to listen to it is another matter. Should be done within a week though.

Oh cool, but I wasn't actually the one who requested that, I was just agreeing with them when they said Symphony X is awesome. I've probably heard tracks from The Odyssey on my Pandora station every so often, but the only Symphony X albums I'm really familiar with are The Divine Wings of Tragedy and Paradise Lost (since those are the ones I own).

I'm interested to hear what you think of it, might convince me to move it off my "list o' things I probably want" and into the collection proper.

All right, I'll check them out for real now.
For a progressive band Opeth has a somewhat set song structure, and it's almost a certainity that mid-song there will be a calm part (opposite if it started calmly).

 

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