Orphaned Land are back with their 6th full-length album Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs. So why is the village noise enthusiast reviewing an album by Israel’s premier Progressive Metal band? Cause this noise head was and still sometimes is a prog head. Just beat me up and stuff me in a locker already.
It’s been pretty much 8 years since I’ve listened to anything new by Orphaned Land, the last album I bought by them was The Never Ending Way or ORwarriOR. So this 8 year gap makes their progression much more noticeable to me. The production is very polished and large sounding, but still organic and natural feeling. It’s a warm sounding album for sure. Also different for me is the departure of guitarists Yossi Sassi and Matt Svatitzki. Maybe to a more die-hard fan the change is more apparent, but Chen Balbus and Idan Amsalem seem to be doing an excellent job of keeping the melodies strong and characteristic to the Orphaned Land sound. Kobi Farhi definitely hasn’t lost his touch either, in fact he sounds better than ever.
This album also features some pretty heavy hitting guest performances by Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, Hansi Kürsch of Blind Guardian and Tomas Lindberg of At the Gates fame.
Let’s get to the songs.
Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs starts off with “The Cave” which Wastes no time in bringing those catchy and anthemic melodies to the front. This is classic Orphaned Land and I like it.
“We Do Not Resist” revisits their Death Metal roots to great effect, but something about the delivery of the line “We do not resist” makes my ears perk up, unfortunately not in a good way. It sounds a bit Disney to me, like I do not fully believe the lyric. There is also some bleeped censoring that is very distracting, knowing Orphaned Land though I’m guessing this might have a bit of deeper meaning. Right now I’m not picking up on it though. These are pretty minor infractions and thankfully they don’t ruin the album.
Skipping around a bit we get to “Chains Fall to Gravity”. I really love this song. It almost sounds like Opeth and Therion collided and made this beautiful hybrid. The chorus swells with emotion and hope for mankind. The middle section brings us some classic progressive sounding acoustic riffing that segues nicely into Steve Hackett’s solo section. It’s safe to say that this is the jewel of the album.
“Like Orpheus” goes full on sing along anthem with a chorus that sounds like it was specifically written for Hansi Kürsch, so I guess it’s a good thing that he lends his vocals on it! I’d be surprised if this doesn’t become a staple in their live set lists.
“Left Behind” and “My Brother’s Keeper” are another set of strong tracks that get tainted by some censoring bleeps. Conceptually I’m sure it’s significant, but production wise it’s just so **comment redacted**
“Take My Hand” makes some heavy use of orchestral strings that help the melody heavy track soar very nicely, and a stomp worthy riff. My attention has been brought back.
“Only the Dead Have Seen the End of War” brings back the classic Orphaned Land death metal sound that I mentioned earlier, except this time they do not falter. The track is heavy, anthemic, and chock full of great riffing from Chen and Idam. Tomas Lindberg makes his characteristic guest appearance on this track sounding as well.
Overall this was a very solid album that brought back some nice memories. I think devote followers of the band won’t be disappointed at all by this offering and will feel like the 5 year wait was worth it.
Release Date: 1/26/2018
Label: Century Media Records
Favorite Tracks: “Chains Fall to Gravity”, “Poets of Prophetic Messianism”, “Only the Dead Have Seen the End of War”