All Is One
24 June 2013
Writing about Orphaned Land and not mentioning the Palestine-sized elephant in the room is near-impossible. The Arab-Israeli conflict and the murky, tumultuous politics that have followed Zionism into the twenty-first century has coloured everything that the Israeli progressive metallers have written over the last twenty years. The devastating, seemingly irreparable, culture splits that have been right in front of them their entire lives pervades their music entirely, from the lyrics and themes through to their eccentric mixture of musical styles.
Yet their output, and most notably this, their sixth full-length album, has never been a tragic eulogy to the patchwork of failed treaties that epitomises the conflict in the Middle East but more a dissembling of the complicated political system to a more basic premise; co-existence. This is at the heart of All Is One and it’s delivered in a remarkably poignant way.
Lyrically, themes tie themselves to the ideas of co-habitation, be it religious (‘All Is One’), military (‘Let The Truce Be Known’) or common empathy (‘Children’). The sentiments are obvious and repetitive but don’t get absorbed into some preachy or overtly saccharine plot; Orphaned Land prevent this in the way they manage the progression of All Is One. Instead of shunting melody against melody, All Is One dives between a variety of different languages, styles and tones. The album opener and title track is a vast, orchestral piece with nebulous historical themes, which is then followed by ‘The Simple Man’ which carries a much more understated musical gait. ‘Fail’, which comes in halfway through the album is a different matter altogether as a bitter voice much like Tool’s ‘Rosetta Stoned’ sneers, “No surprise this morning, as usual I woke up again to a world that kills itself repetitively with no shame or fear.”
Additionally, Orphaned Land’s variety of voices never push All Is One into realms of quirkiness or indigestibility, but remain testament to the bands’ chequered backdrop and encompassing approach to culture and race.
Watch the video to ‘Brother’ by Orphaned Land:
Steven Wilson’s willingness to jump into bed with Orphaned Land, at least production-wise, for their last album is testament not just to the band’s allegiance to their metallic, Middle-Eastern progressive metal (Wilson is largely unmoved by the generic, or contrived), but to a wider, global understanding of what the band is doing. All Is One is the strongest realisation of their sound so far, and if there’s any justice, it’ll drive fans of interesting music to the band by the thousand.
Sounds Like: Soundtrack to the UN’s Middle East taskforce
Standout Tracks: Fail, Brother, Children