Orphaned Land - _Mabool - The Story of the Three Sons of Seven_
(Century Media, 2004)
by: Aaron McKay (8.5 out of 10)
Here is about the best way to describe this disc: a metal menagerie. This six piece Israeli outfit maximizes all sixty-eight minutes on this effort to stir in as much creativity, theology and conceptuality as humanly possible. To call this band experimental is like saying gravity has a purpose -- a statement of the absolute obvious. While this is my first exposure to Orphaned Land, the previous two efforts stretching their career back to 1991, complete with the a demo in 1993 entitled _The Beloved's Cry_, must have been an adventurous path of wonderment to culminate in such a rich and well-crafted album as _Mabool_. This offering is the third for the band after a seven year hiatus to concentrate on severe developments in their homeland.

While this comparison will fail to deliver a true sampling of Orphaned Land's sophistication, try imagine everything a Mid-Eastern version of Agalloch meets a Borknagar (of sorts) crammed into a less-than-suitable, and mostly restrictive, metal labeling could possibly offer; Orphaned Land is far too fluid to be pigeonholed in such a manner. Barbarous rhythms and tranquil interludes flow effortlessly all-throughout this concept album. Interlacing a biblical tale of three sons uniting in an attempt to restrain God's fury, _Mabool_, or The Flood, eventually overtakes the Orphaned Land wrought with fanciful indulgences and debauchery.

Not content to lay open this story solely with typical instrumentation, Orphaned Land utilize violins, classical acoustic guitars, cello and piano side-by-side with instruments of oriental origin. Orphaned Land complete their developed presentation with clean and harsh vocals that continue their sophisticated experimentation and further stave off any notion of labeling style or concept not expressly exhibited by the band itself.

Obviously a deeply powerful album, but a minor point worth surfacing is that for full effect _Mabool_ is most balanced when listening from start to finish uninterrupted; for those of us mostly musical attention deficit individuals, over an hour at one sitting is asking a fair amount. From time to time, however, pull _Mabool_ out to remember while there are only so many stings on a guitar and a finite number of ways to play them, creativity will not be stifled.

Contact: http://www.orphaned-land.com

(article published 5/7/2004)


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