Orphaned Land – The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR

Israel’s prog-metal prophets are back six years after the release of Mabool with yet another biblical epic. That this band manages to write religious prog-metal concept albums and actually pull it off without coming across as incredibly pretentious or just lame still amazes me. Regardless of how you feel about religion or how silly or offensive you find a metal band singing about god to be, their music still feels genuine and honest and allows you look past any preconceptions you might have had.

That being said, I’m glad that the ridiculous promo shot I thought to be the album’s cover was only a promotional insert. Sometimes even bands you love do things you wish they wouldn’t, but you learn to live with those things and forgive them. You kind of have to as a metal fan. The costumes are pretty convincing though, aren’t they? At least it’s a well-made silly photo. This might actually be what makes Orphaned Land as good as they are. That they do everything with such conviction makes their work more than just novelty, and impossible to ignore.

The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR, whose name I was hoping would change by the time of its release, is much wider in scope than its predecessor, thanks in no small part to Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), who mixed the album. It seemed only a matter of time before the two would collaborate in some way, since Wilson has made Tel Aviv a kind of second home for himself after starting Blackfield with Aviv Geffen. So it came as no surprise to me when it was announced that he would be producing Orphaned Land’s next album. But after what seemed like endless delays, due to what I’m assuming were scheduling conflicts with Wilson’s own projects (including his first solo album as Steven Wilson and new releases from Porcupine Tree and No-Man), it was announced that he would only be mixing the album. While ORwarriOR turned out to be a brilliant-sounding album, I still feel it could have benefited from having Wilson on board as producer during tracking.

Although ORwarriOR sounds better than Mabool, I’m not sure the material is as strong. Perhaps it’s unfair to compare a band’s newer work to their past achievements, but this album doesn’t sound different enough form Mabool to avoid the comparison. At times they mange to match the majesty and beauty that they achieved with the milestone album that heralded Orphaned Land’s second coming, but many parts of ORwarriOR feel awkward or forced. The more I listen, though, the parts that once felt so out of place seem to stick out less.

Many of the songs on this album, like those on Mabool, are strung together with short intros and outros that help give the album its sense of continuity. These interludes tend to be my favorite parts of Orphaned Land’s songs, with the exception of the radio dispatch at the beginning of “Codeword: Uprising,” which took me out of the space I was in while listening. But where this band really shines is when they abandon any notion of themselves as a metal band and break into beautiful pieces of music that remind you of nothing else.

With this new album, Orphaned land has opened up an epic, cinematic soundscape that envelopes you in its deeply layered world and makes its whopping 78:21 running time feel like no more than 40 minutes. The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR is by no means a weak effort. It is at worst a worthy follow-up to Mabool and matches it, and in some ways even surpasses it, at best. Orphaned Land has cemented their position as one of metal’s more interesting and adventurous bands.

Orphaned Land

The limited CD/DVD media book edition of ORwarriOR comes beautifully packaged in a hardcover book with a 28-page booklet filled with wonderful artwork and calligraphy – well worth the money if you’re a fan. You can order it from their website or from Century Media.

  1. YOU think something could benefit from more Steven Wilson? No way!

    • king ramy
    • February 11th, 2010

    Yomeed, I hope you’re right when you said it’s at least as good as Mabool. Mabool is one of the best albums as a whole I’ve ever listened to. Your review convinced me to buy the limited edition.

  2. “The time has come for Middle Eastern metal to take over!”

    metal with a message.
    metal as a savior.
    metal that can abandon it all and get lost in the world they come from; arabia-jewish land.
    metal that sounds (those of you with sensitive hearts should not read the rest) BEAUTIFUL.

    That is so METAL.

    • MystiqueProphecy
    • February 13th, 2010

    Totally gonna buy it now, ZOMGGGGG all cuz of you

  3. I think the reviewer got some point really wrong about this album:
    1-nowhere does he state what the promo photo was about. Dude; the title is UTOPIA. Muslims praying holding the Torah, Jews praying as Muslims (kneeling on carpets)… please try to understand the meaning behind it. It means that in essence all religion is the same, turning to the same God and so why can’t we all live together in peace.

    2-This albmu takes a lot of effort from teh part of the listener. I have seen at least 100 comments where people say the only got it after 50 times hearing the album. Really, the true depths of the music, concept and lyrics only reveals itself after time. Then you will find this is not only a very different album from Mabool, but the puzzle will fit in your head and you will see the genius of this album.

    3-You make it sound like Orphaned Land are a religious band, they are not. They have stated so in many interviews.

    Please check
    http://www.orphaned-disciples.com (fansite in 6 languages)
    http://www.hayatom.com/shop (exclusive OL items)

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: