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Orphaned Land: The Never Ending Way of ORwarrior

The Never Ending Way of ORwarrior is going to be one of those 'talked about for years' albums, and though it's been quite a few years since Orphaned Land's last release, the excellent Mabool, the band were obviously hard at work putting this gem together, and album that clearly surpasses its predessesor on every level. The Israeli band worked with Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson on the mixing of the album, and he even contributed some keyboards as well, so it's no surprise that his influence is greatly felt here. This is, while still a very heavy album, a recording that will instantly appeal to fans of progressive rock & metal. Wilson's work with Opeth drove that band to begin to include 'proggier' elements, and the same thing has happened here, even more so than on Mabool.

First, you must be prepared to give The Never Ending Way of ORwarrior time to fully sink in. After all, this is nearly 80 minutes of complex music, both lyrically and instrumentally, and the styles you'll hear are constantly changing, from symphonic metal, to death metal, to Middle Eastern folk, to prog. "The Path Parts 1 & 2" is a great two-part epic of technical death metal & lush symphonic prog rock, complete with intricate guitar riffs, keyboards, and a mix of growls & clean vocals, while the melodic "The Warrior" is just a truly inspiring number with some very impressive guitar solos. The band hits on some Opeth-meets-Dream Theater moments on the exciting "Disciples Of The Sacred Oath II", and the soaring "Sapari" will remind you of the classic material from The Gathering, complete with some great Anneke inspired female vocals thrown into the mix alongside what appears to be Mellotron.

Add in some shorter pieces that feature a plenthora of Middle Eastern instrumentation, as well as a few tracks that offer up crushing, progressive death metal passages, and you have a truly diverse amalgam of styles & textures here on The Never Ending Way of ORwarrior. Seeing as much of what Century Media has released in recent times lean towards the straight hardcore, metalcore, and death metal genres, The Never Ending Way of ORwarrior is a refreshing change of pace, and a welcome return from a groundbreaking band that took six long years to put this classic together, six years that now seem worth the wait.

Essential listening for lovers of intense, diverse, ethic progressive metal.

Track Listing
[Part I: Godfrey's Cordial - An ORphan's Life]
01. Sapari
02. From Broken Vessels
03. Bereft In The Abyss
04. The Path Part 1 - Treading Through Darkness
05. The Path Part 2 - The Pilgrimage To Or Shalem
06. Olat Ha'tamid
[Part II: Lips Acquire Stains - The WarriOR Awakens]
07. The Warrior
08. His Leaf Shall Not Wither
09. Disciples Of The Sacred Oath II
10. New Jerusalem
11. Vayehi Or
12. M I ?
[Part III: Barakah - Enlightening The Cimmerian]
13. Barakah
14. Codeword: Uprising
15. In Thy Never Ending Way (Epilogue)

Added: February 28th 2010
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 4543
Language: english

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Orphaned Land: The Never Ending Way of ORwarrior
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-02-28 13:06:23
My Score:

The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR is the much-anticipated successor to Orphaned Land's highly acclaimed 2004 release Mabool. Much like its predecessor, this is also a concept album about the battle between light and darkness, but truth be told, I haven't fully explored the lyrics and story of the disc, as I've always been more interested in the band's music rather than conceptual ideas.

Musically, the album sees Orphaned Land growing into a tighter musical force, capitalising on their foundation of heavy meets light in the form of myriad traits. Be it Kobi Farhi's bestial death growls or his melodic clean singing, the wonderful female vocals of Shlomit Levi, or the marriage of traditional instruments with the metallic thunder of bass, guitar, and drums, the songs are distinctly marked by the Orphaned Land sound we all know.

Of course there are the shorter, slower-paced numbers like the acoustic-based "Bereft in the Abyss" and "Olat Ha'tamid", combining Hebrew singing with a catchy, Middle Eastern main melody; however, they have been carefully integrated into the flow of the album in order to provide sharper contrasts to the more progressively tinged pieces like "Treading Through Darkness" and "The Pilgrimage to Or Shalem", which are basically the two parts of a single composition. The former features soft, lullaby-like clean vocals atop a neat acoustic melody, a discreet symphonic element, and a sweet string section before gaining momentum and building towards a heavier finale with plenty of growling and harmony vocals. On the other hand, the second piece places heavier focus on nimble instrumentation, without ignoring the achingly beautiful female vocals. From its syncopated drum patterns to the spoken parts to the dense, chaotic rhythm sections, the song proves Orphaned Land have certainly refined their songwriting abilitities.

The guitar work on the album is possibly Orphaned Land's best, not only from a technical standpoint but also melodically. Being the result of many years' of work, The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR boasts some of their most melodically driven songs. The guitar theme that appears in the second half of "Treading Through Darkness" or the long yet truly enchanting solo on the amazing "The Warrior", complete with some of the best singing on the whole album. The main melody is offered first via the vocals and then through Yossi Sassi Sa'aron's guitar and climaxes with an intense run-out passage.

"Disciples of the Sacred Oath II" is arguably the band's most diverse song to date, as it mixes a plethora of chants, both Yemeni and Hebrew, death growls, fierce double bass drums, complex instrumental passages, traditional instruments such as the saz and chumbush, as well as film score-like melodies that attest to the band's indisputable interest in 70's Turkish music. Those of you who will get the special edition with the DVD can also hear the band's cover version of Turkish rock giant Erkin Koray's classic piece "Estarabim".

The album's finest duet between Kobi Farhi and Shlomit Levi is definitely "New Jerusalem". Unlike many others, I do not think that the album opener "Sapari" is among the album's highpoints, as it places too much emphasis on the melodic chorus. "New Jerusalem", on the other hand, despite its slow pace, is a great accomplishment in that it is characterized by a wonderful melody which never gets in your face, or the excellent trade-off between acoustic and electric instruments.

Porcupine Tree mastermind Steven Wilson is present in a mixing capacity. He also contributes amazing keyboards to the songs, lending pieces like the aforementioned "The Warrior" an extra dimension -- it is his atmospheric synth line that heightens the scope of Yossi's guitar solo. Also, you can feel his presence on "M I ?" which eerily recalled Opeth the first couple of times I heard it, mostly due to the mixing -- the shift from the silent singing to the doubled vocal part is simply astonishing.

I've heard this disc maybe twenty times in only two days and it just keeps getting better. It is going to be a personal favourite of 2010. Highly recommended.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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