Orphaned Land's Kobe Farhi Explains "All Is One"
An enigma in the metal scene, Israeli act Orphaned Land offers up a progressive take on heavy music that preaches a message of unity among disparate religions, countries, and political parties.
Continuing with that message, the band will release latest full-length "All Is One" on June 24th in Europe and June 25th in North America via Century Media Records. This release follows previous album "The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR" (reviewed here).
Orphand Land front man Kobi Farhi recently chatted with Metalunderground.com to discuss the upcoming album and explain the changes in style and presentation this time around - including the decision to ditch all harsh vocals. Read on for Kobi's thoughts on Turkey's place in the Muslim world, the band's current label situation, and the large number of players involved in the creation of this new album.
xFiruath: This is your third album for Century Media – do you still have more time on your contract or are you up for grabs from another label now?
Kobi: We have another album with Century Media. The original contract was for four albums. Right after the fourth album we’ll be free. The way it seems to me is that we’ll stick with Century Media, but who knows. I really love the guys at Century Media and they’ve been nothing but perfect for us, but when the time comes we’ll see what will be the future for the band.
xFiruath: Are all of the band members living in Israel still or are you guys in Turkey?
Kobi: We’re living in Israel, but we did apply for a citizenship in Turkey because it’s a Muslim country and it’s a great country. I’d really like every Arab and Muslim country to take an example from Turkey. I wish every Arab country would be as a great as Turkey because it’s a very open minded country. When the Ottoman empire had collapsed and the founder of the country wanted to make a very intelligent Muslim country that had a western approach, he even changed the alphabet of the Turks to a Latin alphabet. It’s a revolutionary Muslim country, the way they always welcomed us – we’ve played more than 20 times there – we’ve always been treated so nice and we have a huge fanbase over there. It’s a great example of coexistence. I know they’ve had some issues in the past during World War I with Armenia. But the country today, the metal fans, that’s what I’m speaking about and they are great.
xFiruath: I got a chance to speak with the vocalist of Melechesh awhile back and he always speaks very highly of Istanbul for some of the same reasons you mentioned.
Kobi: If I were to choose where to live besides Tel Aviv I’d definitely choose Istanbul.
xFiruath: Onto the new album, fill me in on the writing process for “All Is One.”
Kobi: We wrote the album since we released the DVD in 2011, we had a big release show with Steven Wilson and right after that we started the writing process. We wanted to make a very up front and accessible album, so immediately we decided to skip growling on the album and just do clean vocals. We thought the album title, the name, the cover, everything would be very up front this time. It was a fascinating process. We collected material and shared our ideas and we had a lot of fun writing the album. We got a decent budget from Century Media so we got the chance to fly to Turkey and record some violin players, we recorded the majority of the album in Sweden at Fascination Street Studios with Jens Bogren. Some parts we also recorded in Israel. We had the ability to take a choir of 25 singers, the whole string orchestra, so the production had more than 40 people participating. It was very busy and ambitious, but we like that kind of thing.
xFiruath: You mentioned wanting the artwork to be very upfront about its themes, can you tell me about who created that and what’s going on?
Kobi: The artist who did is called Valnoir, who also did the latest cover artwork for Morbid Angel, Paradise Lost, As I Lay Dying, and so on. People may be confused, especially in the United States where they are not so familiar, they see the cover and may think it’s a hippy message or some kind of peace and love coexistence thing about uniting cultures, which we really do, but there’s a very big difference between the cover artwork combining the Abrahamic religious symbols and the actual songs of the album. Because the songs of the album speak about the exact opposite, about the fact that we always fail to see that all is one, and the result coming out of that are the tragedies of our lives. It’s almost like the cover art and album title are some sort of utopia, some kind of a dream that we wish to achieve in our bloody region. But when it comes to the songs of the album, that’s the harsh reality. It’s a dream and a reality, which are a complete contradiction.
xFiruath: The members of those three major religions definitely prefer to be distinct from one another, so I’m wondering if that message of unity ironically causes you problems. Do you get hate mail or take any flak for that?
Kobi: Well not really. In the basics of those three religions they are very much alike, at the end of the day Jews and Arabs are both coming as descendants of Abraham, and of course Jesus Christ who was a Jew himself. There are a lot of connections between the three religions. The thing is that religion is really not delivering the goods they should be. They should be the people responsible for bringing hope and bringing people together and teaching morality as the ambassadors of the God they claim to be. But they really don’t do that. I’m succeeding in doing more than those religious priests and rabbis and imams and politicians. We’re doing more with our heavy metal band. Is that great or is it ridiculous? Who am I at the end of the day? I’m the vocalist of a heavy metal band, I’m not a politician, I’m not a religious leader, so how can it be that I’m the most famous Israeli among the Arab world? How can it be that we succeed more in bringing people together than leaders who have billions in budget and the ability to change things and do anything they want. I don’t have a private jet or a budget or an office. How can it be that heavy metal music succeeds to do more? We have a lot of criticisms towards religion, but we don’t really get any threats. We’re really proud of that, because when it comes to Israel, it’s a very big producer of bad news, especially in the media. Some of that is occasionally out of proportion, but that doesn’t matter. Orphaned Land is kind of a good story in that ocean of media, and people are really proud of that. We never expose our political opinions so it doesn’t matter if people are right or left wing, they’re proud of Orphaned Land being Israelis who do a good service for the Middle East.
xFiruath: Are you coming to North America to support the album?
Kobi: I’m meeting today with the people from Century Media. I know they want to try to do some good stuff with the band. If it’s up to use we’ll come back to the U.S. as soon as we can. I really like playing there in the States. So I’ll speak about it with Century Media. Nothing is planned for the moment, but I’ll try to work it out.
xFiruath: Tell me about the videos you’ll be releasing with this album.
Kobi: We started with the lyric video for “Our Own Messiah,” that was released the other day. Next week we’ll do another lyric clip for “Let the Truce Be Known.” Then we’ll do a studio clip for a song called “Brother.” When the album is released in June we’ll do a video clip for the opener of the album “All Is One.”
xFiruath: What music have you been listening to lately?
Kobi: I like to listen to, if it’s metal I listen to bands like Opeth and Pain of Salvation. I can listen to Porcupine Tree a lot, but if it’s non-rock or metal then I like listening to Leonard Cohen, mainly because of his amazing lyrics.
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