Orphaned Land, Halas at Reading 3 (2013)

Reading 3 (Tel-Aviv, Israel)

Orphaned Land, Halas
Tel Aviv, the never ending Tel Aviv, I can't be true to myself if I […]
July 18, 2013
Tel Aviv, the never ending Tel Aviv, I can't be true to myself if I won't admit that sometimes I wished I could rip its heart out, if it had one. On the other hand, I forgot that it is Summer time, plenty of tourists in our fair country of Israel, especially in Tel Aviv, and also it was Thursday, therefore most of the Israeli folks are out celebrating the summer and the arrival of yet another weekend. My point being, almost no parking, lots of traffic and ounces of nerves, but enough with my futile bickering, as it changed to mere glee after what I witnessed afterwards.


ORPHANED LAND managed to pack the place up, a full house, with a variety of people that I would have never thought in my life that would attend a Metal gig. It was the official release party / celebration of their fifth and new album, "All Is One", released a month ago via Century Media. Lots of expectations for a mega performance by the ones acclaimed as the pioneers of Oriental or Middle Eastern Metal, and there were special guests in line to contribute their appreciation and friendship for this occasion. However, ORPHANED LAND didn't need to pass any test in front of their local audience; they rose up on stage and later on completed their celebration journey with a tight grip of their fans' admiration.


The evening formally started just a little after 22:00, but not with ORPHANED LAND, yet it appeared to be, at least for me, an unscheduled warm up act that went by the name of HALAS (Translation from Arabic: Enough). HALAS is a band of five, with a majority of Arabs, displaying modern type of Metal, tending towards the Groovy stuff of PANTERA and a few Nu Metal hints, yet with Middle Eastern elements such as the flute and darbuka. Their entire performance consisted of songs in Arabic, one of them a cover for the famous singer Umm Kulthum. I have to admit that I haven't heard about these boys ever till the gig, and I surprised by their stage vigor, as if they have been performing for some time now. As for their material, it lacked a melodic pattern, yet the flute as a lead instrument covered the absence of a melodic lead guitar in most parts and the guitar player appeared to be quite confident with his rhythm guitar role. Furthermore, the singer, which I understood it to be his first gig with the band as its frontman, wasn't melodic himself, yet he gave a good go for his debut live with the band. Regrettably, I didn't understand a word he was singing, but I gathered that it was something positive. Above all, I liked what they offered, that Middle Eastern flavor can really induce something inspiring into Metal, even the New School kind. After the cheering and salutations, HALAS made way for the coming Orphaned.


Clicking it up with a few last sound checks, the DJ was buzzed down, it started. Slowly, with the unveiling of a spoken word intro, the members of ORPHANED LAND and live crew went up to the stage. First time presented in Israel live is the band's second guitarist, Chen Balbus, which replaced Matti Svatizky a year ago, that already established himself as a talented lead guitar player alongside Yossi Sassi, and it was also clearly proved on this here gig. After Kobi Farhi and Uri Zelcha postured themselves in center  and right stage, the screen behind the butchering skin man Matan Shmuely, lit, and "All Is One" began rumbling Reading 3 to the loud cheers of the packed venue. While performing the song, its video, which was just released a few days ago, appeared in all its grandeur. No doubt the ORPHANED LAND's visions and ideas for conceptual flicks are intriguing. In addition, the performances of this song, and others from the album that came afterwards like "Our Own Messiah", "Simple Man", "Through Fire And Water" and "Let The Truce Be Known", seemed to outlast the studio recordings. This not a thing to be taken so lightly as there are numerous of bands that have been trying to do so and lacked the ability, sending the attendee to long for the album recordings. Nonetheless, that is where experience comes in, and these guys have it in full.



Throughout the gig, there were guest performances by several of Israel top Rock and Folk artists: including Geva Alon (A Folk Rock artist) that performed his own "I Can See The Stars" and ORPHANED LAND's flamboyant "Brother". Michael Benson (Bass player of one of Israel's top Rock bands, MASHINA) that demonstrated a Metal version for his own band's "Shlah Li Malach" (Send Me An Angel) and ORPHANED LAND's catchy hit "Sapari". Amaram Brothers that magnificently sang in Yemenis both "Sapari" and "All Is One"'s "Ya Benaye" along the sensation of ORPHANED LAND's Folk and the heaviness of the electric instrumentation. Singer Mira Awad (Attributed her vocal line on two songs on "All In One") performed "Children" and "Through Fire And Water" with her lovely voice (too bad that overall engineering didn't compliment her efforts, at least in the house). Lastly there was Kobi Aflalo (Folk composer and singer) that enabled ORPHAND LAND to rearrange and readjust a song of his named "Dama'ot Shtika" (Tears Of Silence) for into "Let The Truce Be Known". Aflalo sang just a bit of his original tune, which appeared quite soothing, yet as a Metalhead, of course I preferred the later forged product. That amazing variety of guests, in a way, portrayed a different, yet overwhelming, stature to the new album's songs, along with "Sapari" of the previous effort.


In my bill, ORPHANED LAND were able to enhance their Oriental Metal legacy making it an utmost experience with the new material, unlike what I though earlier when I reviewed the release. Frankly, I have been rather feverish by older material taken of "Sahara", "El Norra Alila" and "Mabool" other than the latest material, expect from a few exquisite examples off the "The Never Ending Way Of ORWarriOR" like "Sapari" or "From Broken Vessels" laid out on the setlist, on the other hand, I couldn't deny how much force there is to the newer tracks when played live. After thinking of it again, "Birth Of The Three (Unification)" was quite a spectacle, though I thought that there were slight timing problems with Shmuely's drumming at least in a section of the song, "Ocean Land" as glorious as the first time I saw it played live in 2004, "Halo Dies (The Wrath Of God)" heavy as it can get with great vocal display, and there was the final mixture of "Norra El Norra" along with melodic sweeping of "Ornaments Of Gold" to close down a hefty setlist. Honestly, I was rather disappointed that "Ornaments Of Gold", being one of ORPHANED LAND's powerhouses, off the "Sahara" album, hasn't been performed in full for several years, at least from what I gather. Its last melodic chip and riff played in variations to end gigs isn't always a right call.


Summing it up, it was a notable event to celebrate a new album, for ORPHANED LAND it was a mini fest, while they were the main headliner, performing with the best of them. I would incline that the sound engineering didn't always compliment the band's efforts as there were several points where it was hard to capture the entire band: vocals lost, or Folk instrumentations barely noticeable and such. Other than that, it was the best of ORPHANED LAND.

I wish to thank Keith Ham, one of Metal Temple's crew members, for handling the accreditation for this gig and acquiring me the Press Pass. Also I wish to send my thanks to Kobi Farhi and ORPHAND LAND for approving the accreditation and allowing me to experience their new album festivities.  

1. Intro
2. All Is One
3. Birth Of The Three (Unification) + Olat Ha'Tamid
4. Our Own Messiah
5. Halo Dies (The Wrath Of God)
6. A Never Ending Way
7. I Can See The Stars + Brother (Feat. Geva Alon) – Folk Rock
8. Simple Man
9. Bereft In The Abyss
10. Send Me An Angel (Shlah Li Malach) (Mashina Cover, Feat. Michael Benson)
11. Sapari (Feat. Amram Brothers / Michael Benson)
12. From Broken Vessels
13. Barakah + The Kiss Of Babylon (The Sins)
14. Ya Benaye (Feat. Amram Brothers)
15. Ocean Land
16. Shama'im
17. Children + Through Fire And Water (Feat. Mira Awad)
18. El Meod Na'ala
19. In Thy Never Ending Way
20. Dama'ot Shtika + Let The Truce Be Known (Feat. Kobi Aflalo)
21. Norra El Norra (Entering The Ark) + Ornaments Of Gold

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