Band Horn: Orphaned Land (Israel)

Contrary to popular belief, the Metal scene began in Israel back in the 80’s around the same time that Thrash and Black Metal became popular in Europe and The States. Unfortunately, the mainstream bands have received more recognition and those over the hills remained undiscovered until a brave Metal Head named Sam Dunn made an astonishing breakthrough.
“We loved the first movie by Sam, A Headbanger’s Journey, and when he asked [Orphaned Land] in Wacken [Open Air] 2006 to be a part of his next film – we were thrilled!” exclaims Orphaned Land guitarist Matti Svatizky.
Doom Metal Band, Orphaned Land; hail from the depths of Israel pushing forward their tightly-infused music which has a sturdy message of unity.
“We have always seen ourselves as a drop of light in the Metal world – which embraces darkness.”
It is with no doubt that Orphaned Land has to face a number of challenges as Svatizky explains;
“Israel is quite a secluded country culturally. The Western culture is banned there most of the time, and sometimes illegal, while in Israel there is a great yearning to Western culture. This puts a great geographic challenge on Israeli artists, especially when they’re young. In America or Europe anyone can just hop on a bus or even on his own private car and tour around, in Israel it is not possible, because of cultural differences and because of security issues.”
Ironically, it is through the cultural differences that Orphaned Land has developed a warm fan-base joining in from around the Globe. Whether it is a Viking or an Egyptian – Orphaned Land welcomes all their fans. Svatisky elaborates;
“Our fans are usually people who look for that extra [x – factor] in music. They either have some “Arabic” background, or they are doom metal fans who like the more melodic stuff, or they are progressive metal fans, or just people who are looking for good and interesting music. Our fans have always been special to us.”
It amazes me that Orphaned Land has been able to conjure the idea of harmony through their music. As their album The Never Ending Way of ORwarriORalbum reflects. “Or in Hebrew means Light, so OrWarrior is a little word game meaning warrior of light. Light has always been a strong motive with Orphaned Land. The warrior of light is someone who fights for everything that is good, and among these things are love and unity. During the whole album there is a self-search. You can see people who are self searching, they always tend to get connected to their inner silence, be more pacifist, and more calm. All religions talk about kindness of heart and high moral standards. This is our view as well,” describes Svatisky.
Even Kirk Hammett of Metallica agrees that Orphaned Land’s works are transcendent.
“We’re huge fans, and Metallica is a huge band, and it was a great experience to see how the big ones work [while] opening for Metallica in Israel.  We talked with the guys, and Kirk Hammett even asked for our CD, which he later stated in Metal Hammer as the best CD he heard lately,” continues Svatisky.
It goes to show with perseverance great things can be accomplished but even people trying to make a difference in the world have to face setbacks too as Svatisky explains; “for a low point, I’d say that during our North American tour, our driver ditched us 4 shows before the ending of the tour and stole some money. We were left helpless in the middle of the US with nothing we could do since none of us can drive a bus and for a few hours we were sure that the tour was going to end. There’s a happy ending though, Lincoln Archibald, who did the merchandise sales for Katatonia, [which Orphaned Land opened for], agreed to drive the bus for us and practically saved us.”
If Orphaned Land can be described in a nutshell – it would be attractively diverse on numerous levels of Metal. With the addition of the Arab Orchestra of Nazareth, Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, the smooth vocal poetics, the Eastern strings and the Metal power – its sublime.
The verdict is out, Orphaned Land are definitely a band to keep an eye on!
Thank you to Matti Svatisky (Orphaned Land) and Stefan Franke (Century Media), for agreeing to make this interview possible!
Editorial Written by Lav Nandlall

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