Although billed as an Orphaned Land album, fans of that band might take note that this is really a Soundtrack collaboration between OL mainman Kobi Farhi and Erez Yohanan of fellow Israeli outfit Amaseffer.
It’s the soundtrack to a play, Kna’an, by German playwright Walter Wayers, which purports to take a modern view at the Abrahamite tradition which gave birth to the three major monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
That’s right up Farhi’s alley, of course, and over the course of Kna’an the man and his cohorts excel at adding colour – and no little metal bite – to the tale.
However, it’s important to note that it’s not all sturm und drang, and in fact, standout cut Akeda aside, most of the highlights on the record actually stem from the less heavy moments of music, when the collective adapt a sort of Dead Can Dance/Sabbath Assembly perspective to add some truly haunting, tremendously evocative local flavour to the mix. Opening track The Holy Land of Kna’an really gets the juices flowing, leading you to form cinematic visions of the Middle East in your mind’s eye, whilst the equally effective The Vision, a mournful lament worthy of the great Ofra Haza, is truly spine chilling in its yearning, aching simplicity.
Not as bombastic or indeed glossy as Orphaned Land’s last effort, the splendid All is One, Kna’an strikes the balance between riffy, melodic metal and pastoral, bucolic languor effortlessly. Of course, those fans that bemoan the loss of the death metal elements in Orphaned Land’s sound will continue to struggle again with the band’s continued transition to less abrasive pastures, but for everyone else this will be a delight to behold. Akeda is a monstrously good track, again using those middle eastern scales to set the mind dancing with visions of ancient deeds, and it’s an absolute credit to the musicians involved that every song here is of similar worth in terms of painting a picture to accompany the story. I haven’t seen the play, but just a few listens to Kna’an give the listener a clear picture of what will be going on onstage when the piece is performed. Brilliant stuff.
Kna’an is out now.