Orphaned Land – Mabool (2004)
As I write this (and most likely as you’re reading it), the Middle East is ablaze with conflict and bloodshed. In many ways, Israel is an ideal place to create “Mabool,” a concept album with a mythological take on the origins of the three religions that dominate the land: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
“We all pray to the same God,” Kobi Farhi observed in an interview with Sam Dunn.
“Why the conflict?” seems to be the unasked question there. “Mabool” sets its answer to music in this fine 2004 effort.
1. Birth of the Three
2. Ocean Land
3. The Kiss of Bbalyon
5. Halo Dies
6. A Call to Awake
7. Building the Ark
8. Norra el Norra
9. The Calm Before the Flood
11. The Storm Still Rages Inside
Told through a mystifying blend of heavy metal, harsh and clean vocals, progressive songwriting and keyboards, and traditional Middle Eastern instruments, “The Story of the Three Sons of Seven” goes something like this:
Eons ago, the mythical seventh son of a seventh son was split into three different entities “for fear of their strength.” They each became one of the three faiths, the People of the Book: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. God became furious with their sins and failings and vowed to destroy the earth in a flood. After trying and failing to warn the world of the impending danger, the 3 sons construct the Ark to rescue themselves and their followers. They are able to ride the storm out, but although they are guided to dry land, their rivalry continues despite all the commonality they share. As the song title goes, “The Storm Still Rages Inside.”
No one has come up with a label for this entire package yet, but it doesn’t need one.
There are plenty of opportunities to thrash and headbang during “Mabool” (the iconic “Ocean Land,” “The Kiss of Babylon”), but there is also plaintive, mournful cry of “A’salk” and the radio-friendly pop of “Norra el Norra.” The packaging is loaded with scriptural verses from all the faiths for the theologian and philosopher among us to evaluate at leisure.
Although the Israeli flair is definitely emphasized, it isn’t overwhelming or stereotypical, and the Middle Eastern elements and rhythms mix with traditional metal in beautiful new ways. There is a dignity within Orphaned Land’s work that is undeniable here, that suits their purpose to explore the both the heavy and light aspects of faith.
After the release of “Mabool,” Orphaned Land became the go-to Israeli heavy metal band, helping to establish that country as a legitimate force in the world of heavy metal. But even more than that, “Mabool” is the sound of a group of passionate young Israelis offering their interpretation of the birth of their beloved homeland–and the mysterious forces still at work there.
4 / 5
Written by Matt P