Album Review: Orphaned Land - "The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR"

Naturally, you as the reader clicked on this article to see what I thought about the Orphaned Land album “The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR.” You probably are curious if the music is crisp, if the riffs are edgy, if the Israeli metal band can keep pace with their counterparts in the rest of the world.

This past February, Orphaned Land released “The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR,” (originally released in 2010) for a second time, this time as a free download in Middle Eastern nations where the album could not be purchased by normal means. The release came accompanied by a bold statement from the band, which was circulated in their press releases, and went something like this:

“For years I was educated to hate Arabs and learned how much they hate me and my nation, I was sure both Israelis and Arabs, Jews and Muslims will never live in peace. But then something happened, a small movement - the music that taught me more than any teacher, guru, rabbi, sheikh, was my band’s music – ORPHANED LAND. I know that a football fan of Barcelona will never cheer up for Real Madrid, so how can it be that Arab people will follow my Israeli band? It's simple - the power of music to bring people together, to break walls, even worst enemies can find a mutual song that they love, and right there - it's a moment where they can find something in common, a door to a dialogue, to understand that we are all one.

We consider you, our Arabian fans, to be the most brave metal heads in the world, since you re-defined the word 'underground' into a new level.

We know how hard it is to be a metal head in the middle east and we always want you to know that we as pioneers of the Middle Eastern Metal genre, we are trying our best to be your voice too without getting into politics that divide us for ages. I already know that music can bring people together since I see how many fans we have in the Arab world despite the fact we are Israelis.

I know that all the wars and bullshit they put in our heads are just a stupid lie, I know it because we succeeded to break it, and we are not politicians, we are just a heavy metal band.

We are banned in your countries, not to mention the fact that we cannot play a concert there, this will never stop the power of music and friendship that exists between us - I see you, our fans as a miracle, you give us the inspiration to continue as much and as strong as we can.

Lately we have decided to make our latest album legally available in your countries - FOR FREE! We hope that you'll enjoy it and spread the word.

Our countries flags may have different signs and colours but deep in our hearts shines the same flag - the flag of hope, friendship, brotherhood,

Don't you ever forget it - it is our duty as disciples of the sacred oath.

With love, peace, Salam & Shalom,
Kobi,
ORPHANED LAND.”

A long time ago, I remember hearing Henry Rollins talk, only half-jokingly, about how the Ramones could be used to create peace in the world’s hot spots, and he cited the Middle East as an example. The idea was essentially to make people meet in the middle in order to share music. What Rollins was alluding to is exactly what Kobi Farhi has decided to do in his own way; bring people past their differences with the power of song. If providing this album for free for the single most underground fan base on Earth reaches and enriches the life of even one fan, then the effort was worth it. It gets said in clichés all too often, but we are one people. Love of music is one of the clearest daily reminders of that fact, and all too often is sits unheeded under our noses.

The cynic in me wants me to think that the good done by this remarkably honest act may be primarily for the publicity, but I have a hard time believing that. Even if that were the case, so what? I am willing to let Orphaned Land bask in the light of their attempt to reach out not just to their fans, but to fans that they are barred from seeing.

The album, for those curious, is pretty solid; it has a fine mix of light progressive elements and more straightforward fare, and is combined with music and themes curried from the band’s cultural heritage. The Asiatic/Middle Eastern influences on songs like the opener "Sapari" are what sets this entire burgeoning sub-genre of metal apart from the rest of the metal universe, and Orphaned Land has channeled those elements well. Worth a listen if you want to support a cool idea.

With all apologies to Orphaned Land however, the content of “The Never Ending Way or ORwarriOR” is much less important than the powerful statement it currently represents. Their noble gesture resonates deeply with me, and I find inspiration within its message. I hope that others feel the same, and maybe, just maybe, we collectively can start breaking down more barriers.

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