ORPHANED LAND :  interview with Yossi Sa'aron


questions by Haavard Holm ___    

interview shared with Metal Norge










There are a few bands around the globe that make their mark upon you, just for doing something so unique, that you are sure to never listen to anything similar again. Orphaned Land is one of these bands, without a doubt the band that can represent the whole middle-east in the metal circles, as they have qualities above the normal band. Their latest album "Mabool" was simply a fantastic effort, and a album influenced by most musical genres, and with a own oriental sound and structure to it. I had a chat with guitarist Yossi who was nice enough to chat freely about the band's past and future.


-         Now it has been some time passing from the fabulous album “Mabool” came out. How do you feel about the album now when you can look back on it ?

We are pleased with 'Mabool' as our 1st release in Century Media. Last year was mainly spent on the road, touring with "Mabool" in almost 30 countries in Europe, USA, Middle East and South America. We got great feedback on the album's concept and music.


-         The media seems to really be overwhelmed by the originality of Orphaned Land this time, are you surprised over the media reaction to the album, or were you sure it would be a well reception for the album ?

Being the pioneers of oriental metal/rock and world metal, we're used to get interest over our creation's originality for the middle-eastern tunes etc. Still, every release there's an anticipation all over again regarding how the press will relate to it, and we were very happy to learn that the media accepted the album with great feedback.


-     Did you find “Mabool” to be a very tough album to create ?

Mabool's creation took path through 7 years almost, most of the material was written back in 97-98, yet arrangements were done just lately before the release, around end of 2003 and beyond. It was a long journey and hard work, but I expect us to deliver no less better results in much less time. We won't take such long breaks again in between the composition and the final arrangements.


-         For me it is obvious there is a link all between rock, progressive music, folk music and metal/extreme metal in the bands music. Has this been a considerate thought  by the band to make your music so special ?

We combine in our music both past and present/future, both folk traditional instruments and roaring metal guitars, and for us it's been natural because we were born in the middleeast, so we know well how the folk/veteran tunes sound like, and were raised in the 20th century, so know how our generation sounds like, and the connection between the two is simply happening there without special difficulties.


-         Following the band through the years I must admit that “Mabool” is clearly the better work, but even your two succeedors are not bad albums, “ Sahara ” being extremely new-thinking for its age. Are you still able to acknowledge these albums yourself today ?

Sure! I love our debut and the following albums. 'Sahara' has some musical concepts that are rare to find in early to mid-90's metal, and 'El Norra Alila' in my honest opinion is a great experimental work, with some cool guitar work that I enjoy listening to even today. In fact, I love all our albums almost equally. what I choose to listen to from all 4 release just depends on the mood.


-         You changed from Holy Records that were your “home” for quite a few years over to Century Media before “Mabool”. How has the change turned out, and I bet you felt good when there was a concrete offer from CM on the table ?

'Holy Records' were the best label we could ask for as a starting band back in the early 90's. They are great people - we love you Severine and Phillipe! they were truly a home for us, yet CM is indeed more positioned to take us where we're heading currently. The work with the CM staff has been outstanding, very professional and great helpers.


-         For the recording of “Mabool”, what made it differ from your previous album recordings ? Do you feel to have matured as a recording band throughout the years and these for now three fullength albums ?

Definately. It's by far our most mature recording. You can feel the progressive elements in many tracks, as well as better sound through all instruments. The playing of everyone improved (veteran and new players) as well.


-         Amazingly enough, “Mabool” also came out on vinyl, as well as a exclusive 10” release called “Ararat”. How come you decided to release “Ararat”, and will this one be kept only on vinyl forever ?

For now, Ararat is only on Vinyl. It's a limited edition we decided to release. I miss the vinyl days, man! when albums had 2 sides etc. Maybe they'll come back, huh? :-)


-         This fall your keyboardplayer left the band. Was it a natural departure for the band, and do you think this in some way will influence the bands music in the future ?

Eden had his reasons to leave and we respect it. You need to understand that OL is a guitar band, we (Matti and I) write most if not all of the material, Mabool was all done and written before Eden even joined the band. Today we already compose for the next album, and it rocks! so, yes,- it's sad, but no harm done. In fact, the natural advancement of OL is needed to continue and innovate. OL fans don't need a 2nd Mabool, and I gurrantee we'll get you the best release, the best is yet to come!


-         You also did a tour for “Mabool”, even including Norway , together with Paradise Lost. You even covered them on the bonusdisc for “Mabool” with “Mercy”, and on a Paradise Lost tribute CD. I suppose Paradise Lost has been a huge inspiration for the band in the past, so how was it to tour with them ? Do you remember the gig in Oslo in any particular way ?

P.Lost are great friends. My personal aquitance with them begun back in the early 90s when they visited Israel (twice), and they we're simply great tour partners on the Road in the European tour in 2005. I didn't do the Oslo show on that tour, unfortunately, for private reasons (our back-up guy flew in), so I cannot comment on that. But I will see you in Norway in the next 'round', trust me :-)


-     You’ve been doing actually quite a bit of festivals and touring for the album, do you have any memory from the road that you find the most spectacular ?

We had great fun in the festivals. We did Evolution festival in Italy, Summer Breeze in Germany, Rock the Nations in Istanbul, ProgPower Europe in NL, ProgPower US and more. It's always great to feel the special vibes of these events, their unique, truly. Rock'n'roll in it's pureness.


-         Back in the “old days” I remember there were some controversies regarding the bands music, I suppose partly due to the fact you come from Israel , and that you also sing about religion. Did this back then affect the band somehow, or do you still face some comments about this ?

Not really. We are indeed from the middle-east, but we respect all religions. We sing in 5 languages and speak in our lyrics on all 3 monotheistic religions in the same tone and manner, without putting one over the other. we have many fans and friends in Arab countries and we correspond with them routinely.


-          Do you feel a acceptance in Israel for the music you are playing, even in the more mainstream media ?

In Israel we're naturally known as a breakthrough and leading metal band, but Metal in general is in the underground. you don't get to hear metal bands in the radio etc. It's still a popular music culture. We do have some clips running on local TV etc, but we don't expect to get too much fame from there.


-         What do you have in vision for Orphaned Land these days ? What will 2006 bring for such a eminent band ?

In 2006 we'll have some great news to announce, among them will be the dates and producer name for the next album. We will tour Europe in the 'Wacken Road Show' in April-May 2006, perform at ProgPower UK in March 2006 (both acoustic set and metal set the day after) and more. My biggest efforts go into the next album these days. It will be titled 'OrWarriOr', and will tell the story of the 'Warrior Of Light'. The core components are already there, still much work to be done, but it is going to be a release that will satisfy all OL fans, both past and present listeners. :-)


-         As we now are leaving an old year behind, what would you say have been the musical highlights of 2005 ? Is there any bands that you’d point out in positive or negative direction ?

I loved many album this year,  both in metal and in other scenes, but I must admit one of my biggest surprises was 'Pagan's Mind' - they had a great album this year from a type of material I thought I heard all about before (Power-Prog), and it blew me away. Great stuff!


-         Do you have any current knowledge about Norwegian bands of today ? Anyone you in particular enjoy ?

hmmm... Pagan's Mind :-)  I don't know too many bands from your country other than them, I'm afraid. I'd be happy to learn on more and listen to them.


-         Allright, that I believe was all for me just now. I just have to wish you the very best of luck for the future, you’re one of the most unique bands out there, and if you can top the “Mabool” album at one point, that’ll do my year :) Thanks for responding to this interview!

Thank you very much! See you all on the road in 2006 (on the 'Wacken Road show' or elsewhere) and be patient - a new release work has begun :-)


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