July 21, 2012

Orphaned Land - Mabool: The Story of the Three Sons of Seven (2004)

Ladies and gents, we got some great news for ya'll: Tzeeac has taken under its wing yet another mindless minion. He goes by the name of Zulu and, apparently, he's a hard-working member of society and an outstanding citizen. This contradicts pretty much everything we stand for, but hey, who are we to judge? He likes what we worship, so it should be a'ight. 

Without further ado, we present to you his very first review. We'll let you decide if he's cool enough to hang with us. 

I stumbled across this band (figuratively speaking, of course) about three years ago, while digging through allmighty Google for some Swallow the Sun reviews (I tend to do that sometimes, the digging up part) and they were pegged as something close to the second coming down of Christ. The band itself hails from Israel, specialize in blending death metal with jewish and arabic folklore and this album tells a story about the three angels that each represent a specific branch
of religion (Judaism, Islam and Christianity).

Birth of the Three starts the album a bit on the safe side, as the listener is introduced slowly to all that Orphaned Land stands for. It's not a great track per se, but for me it worked very well, because I was not disappointed with what came next: I say this because in many cases, a band pummels you with a great first song and then loses energy throught the course of the album -  here comes to mind the piece Scream Machine by Beyond Fear (Tim "The Ripper" Owens, anyone?) from the self-titled album.

What comes next is a sonic assault composed of crunchy guitars, clean and growled vox, some tasteful soloing (see the track The Storm Still Rages Inside), chants in Hebrew, Latin and Yemen (with lyrics taken from The book of Genesis and also from Rabbi Shalom ben Yosef Shabbazi's poems), some oriental percussion, keyboards, synths and piano (Norra el Norra stands apart with a great piano ending by Eden Rabin) and a sparring use of Bağlama, Bouzouki and Oud (google is your friend with these ones). In other words, the album is massive; and to get an idea of how massive it is, a total of 25 people are credited for the production of this beast, not including the five permanent band members.

As an overall feel, I'd have to say the flow is very good, and despite the constant changing of instrumental passages, the atmosphere is retained. The most important thing is that after you reach the end of the album, it does not feel like a random collection of songs, but a piece of music with an identity of its own. For me, it's what I strive to find in any musical entity, and here is where Mabool delivers the most.

What's there more to say, besides the fact that I highly recommend it? (not only to metal fans, but to every music listener with an open mind). Listen to it and make your own decision, but I doubt that you'll be disappointed.

Pros: Originality, flow, good mixing of different passages, interludes that you won't be skipping.

Cons: Death vocals could be a little more aggressive and the rhythm guitar sounds a bit flat (but I'm nitpicking here).

Highlights: The Kiss of Babylon, Halo Dies, Norra el Norra, The Storm Still Rages Inside
Rating: 9

Track List
  1. "Birth of the Three (The Unification)" – 6:57
  2. "Ocean Land (The Revelation)" – 4:43
  3. "The Kiss of Babylon (The Sins)" – 7:23
  4. "A'salk" – 2:05
  5. "Halo Dies (The Wrath of God)" – 7:29
  6. "A Call to Awake (The Quest)" – 6:10
  7. "Building the Ark" – 5:02
  8. "Norra el Norra (Entering the Ark)" – 4:24
  9. "The Calm Before the Flood" – 4:25
  10. "Mabool (The Flood)" – 6:59
  11. "The Storm Still Rages Inside" – 9:20
  12. "Rainbow (The Resurrection)" – 3:01

P.S: They had a show recently in Bucharest, but for reasons that I don't seem to remember I couldn't make it to see them, so for now I'm sticking to the album version. Next time I won't make the same mistake.

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