A Heaven You May Create (Live In Tel Aviv)

Century Media
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Mabool (The Flood)
02. The Storm Still Rages Inside
03. Like Orpheus
04. Sapari
05. The Cave
06. In Propaganda
07. All Knowing Eye
08. Brother
09. Ocean Land (The Revelation)
10. Birth Of The Three (The Unification)
11. All Is One
12. In Thy Never Ending Way (Epilogue)
13. Norra El Norra (Entering The Ark)

Humanity's propensity for being vile towards others has cast a shadow over ORPHANED LAND's entire existence. In truth, this much-loved band have always been motivated primarily by a desire to bring people together with music that offers substance and immense style, while speaking as much undisputed truth possible. That their first full-bore live album should be released in the middle of a war in their Israeli homeland is painfully poignant, and clearly not what anyone involved had in mind. But from its title downwards, "A Heaven You May Create" is a celebration of what happens when human beings come together to make beautiful, bombastic music together. Minds are blown, spirits are raised, everyone goes home safely and happily. Current events will inevitably take the shine from this release, but the overwhelming hopefulness that drives ORPHANED LAND makes this more than just another live album. For once, this actually means something.

A force for good since the early '90s, singer Kobi Farhi and his comrades have told many tales of ancient conflicts and mythological turmoil, but every one of them could be easily connected to some current day societal or global situation. Effectively a greatest hits (and deep cuts) set, recorded in Tel Aviv in June 2021, "A Heaven You May Create" lets the music do the talking, as ORPHANED LAND soar majestically through some of their most progressive and inspirational material, backed by a 60-string orchestra. Several songs from 2004's "Mabool" provide a jolting reminder that the metal world should have been quicker to recognize that something special was going on here. In particular, the epic "Mabool" makes for an electrifying show opener, while grand finale "Norra El Norra" has outgrown its studio incarnation and become a talismanic show of strength. "The Storm Still Rages On" is as stormy and cinematic now as it was 19 years ago.

The opening track from 2010's "The Never Ending Way Of ORwarriOR", "Sapari" might just be the band's definitive song. With a layered arrangement that evokes the assembled musicians' mixed heritage and limitless well of inspiration, it feels joyous and vital here. Likewise, "The Cave" astounds with a perfectly paced avalanche of orchestra, choir and riff: the so-called "oriental metal" sound in a beautifully realized and enlightened nutshell.

When necessary, ORPHANED LAND are prepared to be direct. Songs from 2013's "All Is One" dispense with the historical allusions and look fans straight in the eye, with artful ballad "Brother" and the thunderous "All Is One" being highly effective calls for unity that eschew mawkishness and sanctimony in favor of life-affirming metal with a satisfyingly progressive streak. Although tastefully succinct, "Like Orpheus" (originally from 2018's "Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs") rattles through what seems like 100 ideas across four minutes of dramatic, nomadic metal. The crowd's euphoric response says it all.

An important document of a great band in even greater form, "A Heaven You May Create" is also a straightforward demonstration of creative and emotional harmony. There is plenty to be horrified by right now, but one band's remorseless dedication to peace remains a reassuring and necessary spectacle.

Author: Dom Lawson
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