Metalmance has always admired Israel’s metal masters ORPHANED LAND, and it’s been a long five years since 2013’s All Is One. One of the most politically vocal bands around, there is a comforting sense of belonging and optimism when ORPHANED LAND is experienced. The combination of metal and oriental elements is utterly irresistible; but it is their message that we are all equal, no matter what religion, race or creed you are, which is the most poignant.
All Is One would always be a hard album to top, but my word ORPHANED LAND manage to surpass themselves with the very first track alone – The Cave. An absolutely stunning opener for Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs, this song features everything you’d expect from ORPAHNED LAND and more; haunting vocals, a rapturous chorus with a theatrical touch, an impressive and heavy breakdown, a diverse array of instruments and of course, thought-provoking lyrics. The metal elements of the songs have really ramped up with this album; the riffs are crunchier, the solos are sharper, the breakdowns are heavier… However, ORAPHANED LAND combine everything so flawlessly, you shake your head in wonderment at how they actually pull it off.
This thought continues with the next track, the stomping We Do Not Resist. It kicks in with a thrashy bang and erupts into a storming chorus, accompanied by those irresistible Oriental strings. ORPHAND LAND’s material has always had a rich depth to it, and Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs also has that organic, wholesome sound from its instrumentation and production. Every part has its place and moment in the spotlight, it is a glorious feat of song writing and production. The use of the ‘beep’ in this song is also a powerful addition, a reference to censorship perhaps and the denial of information. One way to make sure your listeners are listening.
Third track In Propaganda has quite a nostalgic feel as a lot of the main ‘riff’ is reminiscent of the title track of All Is One; a possible indication that in those five years not much has changed or improved so their message needs to be reiterated. The verses are some of the most melodic on the album and this is when the prog shines through, reminding you of other contemporary melodic prog bands such as CALIGULA’S HORSE, because of the delicate and carefully considered approach to vocal delivery.
Yedidi is a relatively short, yet charming track entirely in Hebrew, with the songs either side, All Knowing Eye and Chains Fall To Gravity both being unashamedly dramatic and atmospheric. ORPHANED LAND always manage to capture the essence of the climax of a musical with aplomb.
Lead single Like Orpheus is a powerful and an extremely passionate song, featuring the magnificent vocals of BLIND GUARDIAN’s Hansi Kürsch. The track begins with an awesome riff that AVENGED SEVENFOLD would be proud of, but we’re soon greeted with that classic eastern ORPHANED LAND sound. The lyrics once again heighten the notion of equality and humanity with great effect. If you’ve already seen the video for Like Orpheus, you will know how incredibly moving this song is.
Things calm down a notch with the mellow Poets of Prophetic Messianism. With the instrumentation and moving vocal performances, it’s truly an amazing alternative-prog triumph. It merges delightfully into the storming Left Behind. If you’re a fan of fellow Israeli prog-metallers DISTORTED HARMONY, then this will be up your street. My Brother’s Keeper wouldn’t sound out of place on All Is One; there is something about the spoken words of vocalist Kobi Farhi that really stir the soul, but his growls also stir the sleeping beast within. It is his cleans though which resonate the most and it is no different on Take My Hand which is an absolute anthem. The riffs are very rock n roll but they meld seamlessly with all other aspects of the song.
I won’t spoil the penultimate track for you – Only The Dead Have Seen The End; but it is most certainly one of the standout tracks on Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs, for numerous reasons. After this blistering track, you wonder how ORPHANED LAND could top it, let alone compose a fitting finale for this absolute masterpiece of an album. The band achieve this with the unexpectedly reserved The Manifest – Epilogue. For the first couple of minutes you are able to reflect on and process the album and its message. The sombre conclusion brings Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs to a sudden and chilling end. After the comfort and feeling of belonging felt during the course of the album, it makes the ending that much more unnerving – like the sudden snap back to reality.
I’ve always felt ORPHANED LAND have never had their chance to shine in the wider metal community, but with Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs hopefully this will all change and more people can be united under the banner of love and hope. In such troubled times full of war and hate, we need ORPAHNED LAND more than ever – a beacon of hope in the darkness. With Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs they have achieved an album of progressive excellence, a masterpiece in the age of disposable nonsense.