Orphaned Land (2004)

 •  Posted in: Kogaionon Interviews

These talented Israeli have succeeded to reach a status of a cult band thanks to the musical style they had approached: Oriental Traditional Metal! Founded in 1991, under RESSURECTION name, they actually made a very good impression right after they changed the name and released "The Beloved Cry" demo, back in 1993... They signed with Holy one year after " Sahara ", a brilliant unique album, is released. Two years later a new material was out: "El Norra Alila" and then... the big announcement as they had signed with Century Media (even if they negotiated with Nuclear Blast as well!). In 2001, on January, I performed an interview with Kobi Farhi, the band's vocalist, for Kogaionon no.7, just to check out if the band was still breathing (almost 5 years passed since their last album). Well, that was the time you had the chance to find out all details regarding ORPHANED LAND... of which I decided to point out solely some ideas already overviewed by my interviewee and which might still be of actuality...

   The name of the band...

   "Reflects a paradox to the name 'Holy Land' it continues with our lyrics (making Metal and praising God) and concepts ('El Nora Alila-God Of Light/Evil of the Night'), I think that a paradox creates some kind of harmony and circle closing between the original message to the opposite one, when you know Orphaned Land is a paradox to the holy land, when you think about it you start to think about the holy land first, then you think and understand why we see it as an Orphaned Land-one point leads to another point-the second point is total opposite of the first point, same goes with the yin-yang symbol-you can find two different sides on this symbol a black with a white dot and the opposite of it, it's two half that create 'The One'-a harmony between Black and White. This is Orphaned Land-in our music God dance Tango with Satan (check the lyrics of 'The Evil Urge'), one half cannot exist without the other..."

   First album

   "I will always have string feeling for every creation we made, it reflects a period in our life. ' Sahara ' will always be dear to me. I can remember the first time I saw it out on a CD. I looked at it for 3 hours without moving. I read every word maybe 20 times! ' Sahara ' was a risk to us, we were experiencing things that had not tried before on Metal music and we didn't know what might be the reaction and result, I'm glad we succeeded. The reason we have chosen this name is for several reasons: The situation in the Middle East is like a storm on the Sahara desert and it's also a very oriental title for a Metal album so it's like a clue of what is going to be the root of the album, we also decided to put pictures of Synagogues, Mosques. And it all was a big lesson for us: the demo songs were re-recorded for the simple reason that they are good songs in our opinion that needed to be exposed on a CD."

   Second album

   "Indeed it is more complex than ' Sahara ' but I don't agree that it's less melodic. I think it's more melodic, especially the vocals, the concept is stronger as well and really paradoxical: 'Shir Hashirim' is one song uniting three prayers of the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam into one united prayer. For me the album is very strong and means a lot and it is a very important step in my evolvement."

   Reprinted demo

   "We are far from being rich from our music and it is not our strongest desire, we did release our demo 'The Beloved's Cry' on a re-issued CD version, the result is great! It sold thousands and it includes a rare live CD-Rom bonus of 'Seasons Unite' from 1993 and also a mixture of rare photos, flyers and posters from the past!!! This is especially for collectors!!"



   "When you believe in something, there will be always a test which is coming to test your belief, to see how strong, true or maybe false it is. I am a strong believer of my truth and I think that a belief is the strongest tool a man could own against every war he is fighting inside himself or outside, I will try to be Metaphoric: try to think that you have a dream that you wish to achieve, see it as a shining long dot in the dark space, you start to walk to this shining dot of light, but still you walk on the dark, so you fall, you eat shit, you have doubts or I don't know what but still when your belief is strong, you can eat the shit and the dark together because every step you make is bringing you closer to achieve your dream. I think that the way to the light is full of shit but it's worth it."

"We are not religious people in the normal way that society defines it, we create our own rules and beliefs, it is another kind of religion, and Orphaned Land 's message is our strongest belief!!!"

   We entered 2004 and I must confess, I've been listening to this new album, "Mabool", times and times over and over again... a real masterpiece (read the review)!!! A new discussion now...

   Hi my brothers! Explosions, violence, blood all over, fights on the streets, plenty of criminal acts...it all seems like the Wall, which is about to "grow" higher and stronger, between Israel and West Bank has real chances to compete with The Great Chinese Wall. Tell me, what is the meaning of all that? Do you feel more secure?

   "Hi brothers, this is Matti from Orphaned Land . This interview will be a combined interview between me and Kobi, the first part of it will be answered by me, and Kobi will answer few questions later on. Enjoy! (Hi Matti!-ED)

I can see that this interview involves some political issues, and as much as I would like to get into details I cannot, simply because it won't be fair declaring my political stands here (and I try to have as less as I can possibly have), because Orphaned Land is compiled from 5 different people who don't share the same mind and therefore cannot have the same thoughts. The whole situation, as you can probably understand by watching the news, is very complicated, and I'm sure that you'll forgive me if I answer some questions very briefly."

   There were very many criminal acts (over 19.000 in the last 10 years), many peace attempts but it finally led to nowhere. I am really curious... how do you see this fight... after all... a religious war?

   Matti: "You know, I don't consider this war to be a religious war at all... this war is not happening, in my opinion, because of religious issues, but because of political ones, and the religious side of it is irrelevant and very small. I think that it is difficult for someone who is out of the conflict to grasp what is going on. However, if someone really wants to understand the issue and know the core of the conflict from an 'untouchable' source, he must look for reading materials on the web and I'm sure he'll have a lot to read!"

   Kobi: "I think this never-ending war is an outcome of combining politic with religion, it's very dangerous and rare to know how to do it, and fact is that no one succeeds so far."

   The holy land is more troubled and tortured than ever. Could this land be an orphaned land... even if its history is more than overwhelming? Tell me, do you assume there might be any optimistic perspective over there? Watching TV... it's like seeing a terrible awful motion picture... and the images are scaring and tearing your heart apart while the war seems to be just in its climax... I am sure that being there it's even harder... Where from such hate? Do you agree with this war? Do you find it just and justified?

   Matti: "I think that there are some acts that can never be justified. I disagree with this war and I'm for trying to find as much a peaceful solution as there might be, and I honestly believe that a peaceful solution exists. I can see the allegory that you made here between this land and an ' Orphaned Land ', and I wish things would not look like they do, but unfortunately they do."

   Kobi: "We always have hope, at the end of the day no one wants war, children are dying in wars, in our music, we take so many conflicts, so many things that doesn't get along, opposites and we combine them with harmony and understanding, with a lot of patient, belief and respect - result is: orphaned Land's music, full of colours, full of elements, everyone can find a piece of his culture there, Imagine how it will be if enemies in this region will find their harmony with each other, we hope that our music will help a bit for that."

   How does your nation see Bush's politics... as far as Baghdad is regarded? I think that your area became a powerful source that might cause the start of a new world war...

   Matti: "Bush is Bush and Clinton is Clinton , and if any of them would like to come and be special guest musicians on our next album they are more than invited to..."

   Kobi: "I don't have a politic opinion except, 'stop killing your own kids....'. I never voted at the election, I don't read news paper or see news, I hear what happened anyway as all speak about it."

   OK. Let's hope peace would embrace sooner and sooner your land and Israel could be again a touristy destination. So, let's talk about our special issue: music. Has anything changed in a fundamental manner from what we've talked almost three years ago? I mean... ideas, concepts, approaches... and so on...

   Matti: "Peace WILL finally dwell here, I know it, I have a strong feeling that there will be an understanding here soon. And now to the real issue of the interview! To tell you the truth, I don't really know what Kobi and you have talked about in your last interview, but I think that I can say that many has changed in the last three years... Three years ago Orphaned-Land was only starting to recover after a long 7 years break, a decision was made to start and work on a new album, and now the album is fully complete and will be in the stores in Europe on the 23 rd of February (the official release date). Through these 3 years there had been many changes, we had to keep flowing upstream, we are getting more 'mature' you might say, and I guess that you can hear this 'maturity' on the album itself in some ways."

   Kobi: "We still live the same dreams only this time, the gyre is on full power, unlike the period we did the last interview."

   I think I should mention the actual line up as a change. Why did you replace the drummer and the keyboard-player? What happened to Itzik? Can you help me with details? Who are they, the new ones? Where do they come from? Where did they play before?

   Matti: "There have been some changes in the line up like you said, Itzik Levi (who by the way is a very successful psychedelic trance artist, named 'Sandman'), has left the band many years ago, I guess he needed more time to work on other projects. Instead of Itzik came to the band a wonderful person, great keyboard player and a very talented musician, Eden Rabin. Now the work with Eden is much different then the work with Itzik, Eden is much more involved in many issues, including the writing of the material, and it has been a pleasure working with him on 'Mabool'. Also as you can see we have a new drummer, Avi Diamond. Avi is a devil on the drums and he did very good work on the album, we are all very pleased with him."

   Let's make reference to your new album... a material released after eight years of silence... at least this is how I see it from the outside... The truth is that you had many conflicts to face inside the band... like who might be the leader...who should give up pride... like who could make compromises... What actually happened? Was it because of lack of maturity... too much pride... to much of ego?

   Matti: "I won't lie and tell you that things like that didn't happen, because I think that it is obvious that things like this happen in every band every now and than, it's only natural. However, there was always a more mature and reasonable side in Orphaned Land; we never let these minor conflicts disturb our work, or our creativity, or even our friendships. There were other things that brought the 7 years 'calm before the flood'; I think that it was more from the side of the need of each member to explore and to know more, to travel and to see different things. Only after we were all sure that Orphaned Land is a strong part of our lives and that we all understood that we are actually in love with this project and willing to give up other things in order to make it alive, that we decided that we are reforming the group, even after this long silence."

   Kobi: "Orphaned Land is a strange band who comes from a strange place, all the problems that we had with life or ourselves, all the quests we made in order to find our inner truth, led back to Orphaned Land, I was amazed after 6 years of silence to receive hundreds of mails from Arab countries and to see some Arabs fans with the tattoo of OL's logo!! Suddenly we realized that all conflicts are bullshit, we feel that the world need Orphaned Land music and we cannot let ego, drugs, or any other thing to ruin it."

   Let's get even more detailed! Congratulations for this new album! This is a real challenge for any Metal fan! Yet... why exactly 68 minutes duration? You could have made it a little shorter... and in a few months to come out with a MCD...

   Matti: "We haven't really considered this option you just mentioned, simply because of the fact that after such a long break (more than 7 years since 'El Norra Alila'!) it was obvious to us that we are entering the studio in order to record a full length album, and to tell you the truth, I wouldn't have regretted it if the album was 74 minutes long, or even longer. It was a pleasure recording every minute of it, and there's always the chance to re-enter the studio in order to record new MCD, or a new full-length even..."

   Kobi: "Our albums are quests, we like them to be long as a journey, it's in our nature of creating and composing, so far, I get feedbacks that despite the long length, it never get boring and I'm happy to hear that."

   I am really shocked and touched by the complexity of vocalizes! Shlomit's warm voice, choirs of female voices, your aggressive clear voice... this is a fantastic fusion of vocalists into the same sound! And I must say that the Oriental influences simply have the merit of pointing out some amazing inflections of those voices there! Tell me... was it hard to record on that many vocal channels? Tell me something about those choirs... where from are they? How did they appreciate your music?

   Kobi: "Recording this album and especially all the vocals (and my personal singing) was a nightmare and a-dream-come true at the same time, I could cry from happiness and frustration at the same day! The arrangements of all the guests beside the band members were a big production of headache, but it was worth it, of course."

   Matti: "Shlomit's vocals on the album is also a great part, I like her voice who is influenced from 'Yemen' singing, you can also hear some influences from the Israeli singer 'Ofra Haza', who recently passed away. The Arab influences on our music are very strong, we are combining in many parts Arab instruments, Yossi plays the Oud, the Saz, and Buzuki (this is the first album Yossi plays ALL the Arab string based instruments). There is also a great percussionist, Avi Agababa, who gives to the music a much more mystic side with his mysteries and bizarre shape instruments. There is a female choir, the 'Moran' choir, and it's actually made of about 15 Israeli girls (teenagers I mean) who sing very nicely and very professionally. The girls from the choir liked what they have heard of the album very much, every time that I talk to some of them they ask me when the album is coming out and when are they getting their copy of it..."

   You play/sing in six languages... Why so? Who can understand any longer what you want to say!? I mean... one can get confused...

   Matti: "There are 6 languages involved in the making of 'Mabool'; English: which is the main language of the album; Hebrew: which is used sometimes when Kobi is reading a text which is taken directly from the bible; Latin: which is used in a song called 'Building the ark', in this song the choir sings chapter 6 from Genesis translated to Latin; Some Arabic; some Yemen (Shlomit, our female vocalist, sings it) and 'Gibberish' , and to those who don't know, Gibberish is a language that is all made up from non-sense words, but you can also make it sound nice. Now I think that there are many few people who can understand 100% of what is being said, but that's the whole magic I think, who said that everything you hear you must always understood? Where would it leave your imagination if it was fed up by known things all the time? Besides, there is a certain magic to ethnic music when it's sang in a language you cannot understand, it just makes the experience more whole, and that's the whole idea in this case also, despite all that, all these parts have a translation near them in the album's booklet. The album is a concept-album, and it tells the story of the biblical flood, only with some changes that were put into it and made it as the 'Orphaned Land's flood story'. Each song tells a different part of the story, from the birth of the heroes, through their visions and quests, until the coming of the flood itself. There are much too many events in order to get specifically into some, but if you listen to the album from it's beginning until the end I guess you can understand for yourself the chain of events, even though in some parts you don't understand the language."

   Well... this is a bloody knotty and diverse sound! You seem to oscillate from Progressive and Psychedelic to Doom Death and Black Metal! I understand that it has been more than seven years passed but... isn't it a risk that your fans might get confused... especially if they are mad about extreme frames?

   Matti: "Yes, the album does take you beyond some borders of a 'regular' Death Metal album, and, as people, we have changed a lot since the 'Sahara' and 'El Norra Alila' days. But I guess that the same way we have grown more mature with the years, our old audience have grown also more mature and will understand our changes, and I also believe that there will be a new audience, much younger one, that will find something in our sound. You can't always satisfy everyone, and when you yourself are satisfied... that is the thing which makes it all worth for you, and as far as I can tell all the band members are happy with the outcome, and so is some of the audience."

   Kobi: "I think that even though we had some developments, the band spirit and soul still exist in the same vein as it was in the past, most of the reactions that I got were that the album sounds exactly of what we had to bring after 'El Norra Alila', fans are surprised to see how it is alike our past material and only got better."

   I do admit there is magic in those Oriental touches and they really did strike me again! They are indeed outstanding! I suppose it is a real art to mix Metal with such traditional elements... either if Jewish or Arabian ones. You are a Metal band... one of a kind! Isn't there any risk for you to be misjudged by those who are very fond on religion... and even accused of musical profanation?

   Matti: "Those oriental sounds are something that we have discovered a long time ago, and as far as I can remember we were the first ones to put this element into Metal as a motive which is repeating itself throughout almost all of our songs and albums. Personally, I like Arabian music very much, I like to play with oriental scales and compose riffs with those scales, I just fell in love in it and now it's too late to turn back. Whoever thinks badly about our love to oriental music or whoever is too self-centred and thinks that the world revolves around him and his needs to express himself, may say what he wishes to say about our musical influences, I personally think that if he doesn't like the music, let him not listen to it, and that's that."

   Kobi: "Since our music is so harmonic and full of instruments, the instruments we use don't play in their native area, so there is a price those instruments have to pay by appearing side to side with Metal, but Orphaned Land has found the formula of how to minimize that. So far, we didn't get any bad reaction of what we did, all say that it is something they've never heard before, and that's a great comment even if at the end of the day they like it or not."

   How come that you didn't ask for the help of Yossi's family... his father... his sister...? On the previous album, there were three tracks in which the Jewish music wasn't mixed at all with Metal ones...

   Matti: "Who said that David, Yossi's father, was not involved in this album also? His part was a little smaller than the one he did in previous albums, but in 'Mabool' he sings, as a part of a thing we call an 'Oriental Choir', and if you listen you can hear him sing in a song which is called 'Norra El Norra' on the album. His sister, Hadas, no longer sings with us, she is now doing other things in life that don't leave her much time to come sing with us even though were in touch and she heard and liked 'Mabool' a lot. Yes, you are right... In the previous albums there were some songs that were completely 'Arab', like 'Joy' for example, or 'Shir Hama'a lot'. In 'Mabool' there are a few songs which are completely non-Metallic also, and in them you can hear some motives from Arabic music, but however they are not as extremely oriental as the ones from previous albums, you are right. I can't really explain why this thing happened, I guess that maybe it was because we have put more Arabic instruments into the Metallic songs, and therefore felt more satisfied with that part. Maybe."

   I really am a profane ear...as far as the traditional instruments are regarded... having no idea which they may be... Can you picture me the universe of those traditional instruments... oud, saz, buzuki....?

   "The Oud is a very Arabic instrument; I don't really know its origin (maybe Egypt? I think it's from Andalusia origin) but I do love its sound. Oud is a guitar with a very big stomach, the griff is very small and you have 4 double strings. The Buzuki, a traditional instrument that comes from Greece in its origin; It has four double strings; it is much decorated with oriental ornaments. And the Saz is an instrument that, if I'm not mistaken, comes from Turkey. Very long and thin griff, 3 double strings, build out of wood only. Now all of these instruments aren't such 'exotic' or 'special' to the Israeli listener, since there are many artists here that use these instruments in their music. I cannot really explain the sounds of each instrument, you just have to listen to them play yourself in order to know their special nuances. Me neither, I cannot explain the sound, saz and Buzuki have a golden colour sound, that's the only thing I can say in order to describe it, Oud's sound is closed and not open, it's like the sound is choking in a way."

   I think I can hear besides synth and piano... some violin or cello echoes... am I wrong?

   Matti: "The violin in the album is played by a guy called Oren, and the cello is played by a guy called Noam. These instruments are played as live instruments and not modulated by a synthesizer, it was very important to us to use as much original instruments and sounds as we could. Oren and Noam recorded their parts in the studio, and they also wrote some of their own parts!"

   I found very inspired choosing for acoustic and classical guitars... and those prolonged solos send me to OPETH or... (why not?!) Santana's tunes... Do you think that if I mention of Joe Satriani I exaggerate?

   Matti: "Are you kidding? Joe Satriani has been a great inspiration to us guitarists (he's Yossi's favorite guitarist and one of my favourites), it's nice that you could hear his influences in the solos. Personally I don't know where the guitar world would be without the guy called Joe Satriani. OPETH is a band which is very fond on Orphaned Land members, and I like their guitar work in their albums very much, they're good guitarists!"

   There are many guitar riffs that remind me of SEPTIC FLESH first album. Do you still listen to such music? Do you still keep in touch with bands under Holy Records or even with the guys from the label? Philippe has talked in very high terms about you even if you left the label back in 1997.

   "We are in a great connection with Holy Records, I also speak with Efthimis from NIGHTFALL from time to time, I'm always listening to Metal music even though that a bit less than in my youth, Septic Flesh are great... I was sorry to hear they split the band."

   Do you think that I am wrong if I perceive "Mabool" as a journey into a universe placed out of temporal laws... into a Middle East that only takes what it needs to go any further... and otherwise closes the eyes...? In this very case I really cannot tell for sure if we talk about traditional music with Western influences (Metal) or about Metal with so me Oriental touches... Where should start one and end the other? Could you outline an imaginary border... or a GEOGRAPHIC border if we keep the same tone of discussion...?

   Matti: "That is a very hard question to answer, because each song was written differently and its roots came from somewhere else. Some riffs were written on a classical guitar, or even on an Oud or a Saz, as riffs that are meant to have a more 'oriental' ring in them, and these were riffs that we used as bases for songs, so you might say that it was traditional music with Western touches. But on the other hand, we had some riffs that where written on a distorted guitar, and they were riffs that meant to sound metallic and their roots are metallic, since we all at Orphaned Land come from the background of Metal, and these riffs started out songs that finally had some traditional influence inside them, so it is impossible to draw one clear line that will divide the oriental sound from the western sound. Maybe if you use what I have just said as a metaphor, you will be able to understand some more about Israel and the mentality here, that is really a mix between east and west, and that could be the geographical border that you tried to look inside our music."

   Kobi: "I agree with Matti, I think our music has no borders."

   Who is Jan Meininghaus and what is the significance of that storm from the album cover?

   Matti: "Jan Meininghaus is the artist who designed the front cover of our album. I don't know what were Jan's thoughts when he drew this amazing piece, I only know that for me this work is linked directly to the concept of 'Mabool' and it describes some of what I can see in my mind that the flood would look like in reality. There is a strong emotion in this wave, and beside emotion you can also sense motion, when I look at the wave I can almost see it moving!"

   Kobi: "We directed Jan by sending him two paintings that drowned by William Joseph Turner at the 19 th century, first painting was The Flood - Shades of Darkness and the second was The Morning After The Flood - Light and colour, according to that he started to work and he achieved exactly what we wanted."

   I understand that the album contains (in a limited edition) a bonus CD with five acoustic tracks. What can you tell me about this one?

   Matti: "These 5 acoustic tracks were recorded on a live acoustic show we had in Tel-Aviv on August, 2002. We have had these tracks for almost a year 'on the shelf', since we decided to record the show, and we thought of releasing the tracks somehow because some of them sounded good, and it was a waste not doing anything with them. And then, when 'Mabool' was almost ready and there had been some talking about a limited edition release, we thought that nothing would be better than having these tracks as bonus tracks for the limited edition."

   You used to tell me you received plenty letters and messages from your fans, from Arabian countries, and they were messages of friendship and encouragement. Isn't is somehow strange and illogic? Or maybe your music could be a kind of bridge between the two religions that never came to live in peace together...

   Kobi: "Our music is beyond borders of religion or culture, it's simply a mixture of colours, an Israeli and an Arab can listen to it and feel that it represent them not more then the other, still I cannot say that I was not amazed to discover the way Arab people understood what we speak about, I think it gave us the strength to continue with the band for a very long period! What else, more important than that can we do if our metallic music helps to make enemies as brothers again."

   Matti: "We have got much support from the direction of young people who live in Arab countries, which are in a political conflict with Israel, countries like Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and more. (We also have listeners in Jordan, but gladly with the latter we have come in peaceful bonds in the last few years). I find this fact very thrilling, because that when we started this project, I think that the last thing we thought is that this would be the effect. It came as a surprise, and a very good one. There is nothing that can tie stronger bonds between countries that consider themselves each other's enemies, than bonds of friendship between citizens in them. The album was also printed in Malaysia, and from there it was distributed to many Muslim countries. I think that this is the first time an Israeli band gets to be distributed in this part of the world. Many Muslims' listeners love for our music went very far, some of them tattooed our logo on their bodies, an Egyptian listener have spent six months in jail because he was caught possessing our material. The fan base in these Muslim countries has no doubt made us stronger spiritually, a new window has been open to our music by that fact, all the relationships between Arab's and Israelis revolving it have turned many people to ambassadors of hope in the Middle East."

   If tomorrow you were invited to play in a band from Libya or Palestine, what would you do? I think your decision should come after an accurate analysis of all consequences that might occur in your band or your group of close friends... or relatives...

   Matti: "Are you serious my friend? If an opportunity to perform in one of these countries hypothetically came to us, we would definitely jump on the opportunity and the last thing that will stop us will be someone else's opinion. The only thing that will eventually stop us, I think, would be security matters. I think that by going to one of these countries we will be putting ourselves in physical danger, since I'm sure that there will be many people on the other side that will not welcome us warmly. Now that I re-read your question it makes me smile a bit, do you really think that we will suffer consequences from our close friends for it? And if someone will wish to speak badly of it then let him speak, but this will be the last thing that will stand between us and between making a dream like this come true."

   Kobi: "I will do it with pleasure but on a one main condition - the massages of the songs that we will sing will not be politics and will not take any side at the stupid conflict, actually, I hope to do it very soon, if someone can help, let him contact me about it."

   I know that in Israel there is a great discipline as far as the army is concerned including women... am I right? Tell me, are you obliged, by law, to join army?

   Matti: "Yes, the law obliges you to go to the army; Israel is a small country and has many enemies. There is a thing here, that when a child asks his father: 'will I be in the army too when I grow up?', then the father answers him: 'when you grow up there will be no war so you won't have to go to the army', but somehow this thing never comes true, and everybody here, when they turn 18, eventually join the army, yes."

   Kobi: "Army is a law here and I guess on the reality here it's a must, I did only 1 year out of 3 cause I had to choose between the band or the army and I felt that I will contribute more through music. But then again, this could be the right pick for me only."

   How can you describe the relationship you have with Century Media? I suppose they are pretty pissed off on you since you signed up the contract back in 1997 and released an album only in 2004! Right? Is it a contract with advantages for both sides? At least financially....

   Matti: "Century Media had been nothing but great with us. I don't know what went through their minds when they got the idea that we are not going to record anything back in 92 or 93, but they have many talented musicians to work with, so they just waited to see what happens with us, and I don't think that they have suffered any loss from it the fact that we decided to have some rest. When we started talking to them some years ago about our plans to record something new and sent them some sketches of our new material, they understood we were serious and started cooperating instantly. When they heard the final outcome they were very pleased and gave us much credit for it."

   Kobi: "Originally, the 4 th release of OL was scheduled for January 98, I didn't have the words to explain the situation that we were and we didn't want to give that dream after reaching that far, I guess that at some stage the guys at CMR stopped to believe for what I was saying but after all they were patient and CMR as a big and respected company had other things to deal with while we were here, searching ourselves, I remember when I sent the sketches for 'Mabool' to the A&R department, I was praying in the middle of the post office, the sketches were bad and you couldn't get 10% of what you get in the final result of 'Mabool', but as you can see, all was just to bring us to this day, stronger than ever, thank God."

   I think the idea of having some tours is just about to charm you... right? What are you expecting from now on? What would be the fans' expectations? Any surprises for stage? I hope Matti wouldn't forget again the guitar in backstage while the fans would ask BIS over and over again.... he, he, he...

   Matti: "I hope you guys weren't talking behind my back now... Yes it's true that it has happened once, I was very excited and went on stage without my guitar... it was very funny indeed when it happened! But yes, having a tour charms us a lot, I think that it was always one of our main goals as a band, something more like our real dream. I don't know what will be the reactions from 'Mabool' and if it takes us touring, but if it does, we will be thrilled by the idea, and the hole concept will be a little bit hard to grasp at first."

   Kobi: "I will be very disappointed if we do not tour the world!"

   If we don't mention the war... I assume that life in Israel follows western Occidental rules... even if you live in Middle East! How do your neighbors accept you? You have long hair, play something that can anytime be considered "Satanist"... Aren't there some drastic rules as far as religion is regarded? How can you cope with all these "details"?

   Matti: "There is no religion based on rules here that forbid Metal, none-what-so-ever. People here can listen to any music they like and dress as they like, no one is bothering them. I'm sure that there are some fundamentalists who would be happy to force some of their opinions on others, but these people are such a minority here, that they are not even considered a starting of a problem. The majority in Israel is liberal; our eyes are set to Europe and the US in everything that has to do with progress and liberalism, we really see ourselves as a part of the western world, even though we are not quite there yet, and have many to learn from both."

   Kobi: "Israel is a democratic place, we have the freedom to get dressed or speak almost about what we want, it's a mixture of cultures placed in one and I guess that in Israel you find that East meets West concepts many times. In Arab countries, few km away from here the situation is different by billions of light years, I have a book with a photo of OL and that book tells that a guy in Egypt who is a fan and listened to our music, got in jail for 6 months because of it!!! This is unbelievable, I wish I could meet him one day..."

   "I consider myself as a son of God more then I consider myself a Jew"... this is an incendiary affirmation. How would your neighbours react if knowing what you declared? What do you actually say by claiming such?

   Matti: "It's so like Kobi saying a thing like that... and I admire him for that because in many fields we share the same opinions and views, and in this one also. But to tell you the truth, my views are a little more extreme that his, I don't consider myself a Jew by religion at all (only by nationality), and I also don't believe in God. What Kobi meant (and I hope he won't be angry at me interpreting him), is that there is a certain priority for a man when he defines himself and what he sees of himself in the world. What Kobi meant was that he sees himself first of all as a human being, and only after that as a Jew. When he says 'son of god' he doesn't mean that in the Christian way, but in a purer way, he mainly says that he is a believer and believes in god and that god has created the world. I have been a believer for many years, but I recently came to a conclusion that I'm putting on myself chains and fears that I can do without. But I know Kobi's views, and when I was more involved in this 'spiritual quest' I shared many of these views, I think that they are very healthy and logical for a believer."

   Kobi: "Well said Matti."

   Since you are a Jew... no matter what you think, may like or not... tell me, please, what is your point of view regarding all these new Nationalist movements... Neo Nazi or else... that came to a great renewal in the past years, especially in countries such as Germany and Austria (Hitler's birth place... btw!). Do you feel any resentment for this nation? Not to forget that after all you are paid by a German label... he, he, he....

   Matti: "I think that the Jewish people as a nation has learned a lot from what happened so many years ago. It is not right blaming anyone, not now and not ever. Every man is a master of his own fate and the responsibility of surviving is on his own shoulders. All this hate that is coming for nothing is nothing new, we learned to live with the fact that some people think that solutions to some problems will come from ways like 'getting rid of this or that" and thinking that the problem lies there, not seeing that the problem has more to do with their way of thinking, and until they change that their feelings towards the world will never change. We learned to live with that, we know it's there; we won't let it bring us down."

   Still in the spirit of the previous question, I wonder what do you think about Varg Vickernes (BURZUM)... his music, ideology and Arian concepts? What about his acts... he just tried to escape...

   "Everybody has his own way to heaven, I have nothing with this kind of belief but I wish him all the best."

   Very few come to know you actually run a label that promotes diverse musical styles. From MDMA it now turned into No Label. Can you develop this idea...and tell us everything about this label?

   "I always liked to deal with music from all kinds, my CD collection contains more then 800 CD's from all kinds, on the music business I mostly dealt with Trance and Electronic music but Metal as well, I left MDMA after the return of Orphaned Land, we did some great things there but it was all over for me cause when it comes to Orphaned Land, it was always my biggest dream of all, today I almost don't do nothing except Orphaned Land and I wish it all remains like that."

   You collaborated with some less known projects. One of them is SUBTERRANEAN MASQUERADE and you recorded for it a Peter Murphy cover version. What can you tell me about this band? I know they signed with The End and that you were on Thomas Lindberg side...

   "I'm in a good connection with Tomer from Sub and I'm sure that they will make a big noise in the future of the scene as they are talented, singing side to side with Thomas was a dream come true, it was always fun for me to co-operate as guest on projects, it's fun not to be on the deciding side and to be a guest, it is always interesting and more calm to me than the OL projects where the pressure is high and I'm always in the middle..."

   You actually performed the vocal parts for a Gothic project, MAGAL. I know nothing about this project...

   "Magal used to play drums for many of Israel's underground bands, he also played with Orphaned Land on one song (Paradise Lost cover for "Mercy") today he plays with a Black Metal band called Sitra Achra and he works on his solo projects which mostly sounds very Gothic and Dark, I was singing as a guest in one of his EP's on a song called 'The End', great song!!"

   You also played beside a conational female vocalist, Nili, who lives in France. What can you tell me about her? What does she play? How was the collaboration you two had?

   "Nili is great, I learned a lot from her, what a diva! I also preformed with her, it was scary, usually you get to have your own fans and you feel like home, it was different here and it was great! I also recorded together with her and Matti an acoustic version to 'The Beloveds Cry' which in my opinion is the best version ever."

   I know about a new cover version you are about to do with MOONSKIN...

   "It's a cover for a tribute CD to the godly At The Gates, song is 'Raped By The Light Of Christ' though it doesn't sound like the original at all, I think it's a great cover, I'm doing there the clean vocals."

   What other musical collaborations you had and which bands would you like to play in? What about the other members... in which other projects were they involved in or would like to be involved for the future?

   "Eden was involved with some of the past Metal bands in Israel such as: Mercenary, Mid Autumn Night, Grimoire, Enochian Key and today he also play in his fusion band: Right On Time, beside them, the rest only dealt with OL, I guess it was because the lack of time and reality here, personally I hope to co-operate on more music acts and not from the Metal scene as I already do and will continue to do, I want to explore more styles, but then again to live with OL always as my main creation."

   If I correctly recall you entered the Metal dimension once with "Seventh son of a seven..." Do you still listen to IRON MAIDEN?

   "Definitely, they are the best top Metal band ever."

   I know you still like Beth Gibons. How did you find the album: acoustic guitar, female voice... do you often come to listen to such music? What other albums have you found on your tastes lately? I am curious, what CDs do you actually always keep in your car, besides the ones that come and go...?

   "It depends on mood, some can fit winter, summer, night time, some CD's fits best when you are with friends, some fits the best when you are with your girl, I can listen to everything because there is the time when no matter what is the CD, it fits, recently I bought the new album of Air and I was blown away from it, I like their early stuff and this is one of their bests."

   Three years ago only you and Yossi had a job. Right now, all of you have reached the age of 30 and you should be on your own... earning money for your living... right? Do you have families, children?

   "Yossi is the only one who is married with a child, as it seems to me, Eden will be the next (touch wood) and Uri after him, me and Matti are still kids I guess, as for works, all the bands are working today and hoping to quit their Jobs and to make a living from Orphaned Land."

   You live in a beautiful country... If I ever come to a point of visiting your country ... could you draw a tour for me so that I wouldn't miss anything? What would this tour be like? Tell me, what should I never miss seeing if being in Israel?

   "Well, indeed it's a great country, you have here a snow and a desert, Jerusalem is the most beautiful city ever, the desert, Eilat, Mezada, the North, it will be a very colourful journey, not that long... since the country is 500KM and that's it... but it will be something to remember."

   I do confess, there is a track which seems to be the most beautiful that my mind/heart has ever experienced, "The Storm Still Rages Inside"! It simply discharges a certain romantic aura... an exceptional nostalgia embraces me while listening to this particular track! Is it a song of farewell of goodbye? Or maybe all tracks, future ones, are about to follow the same musical line? Well... it would be nice... wouldn't it?

   "Since 'Mabool' is a concept album, 'The Storm Still Rages Inside', as one before the last track on the album reflect the situation where the 3 heroes sit on the ark, the orphaned land was destroyed by the flood and they yearn to their beloved father to save them, I can guarantee to all the orphan fans that if they didn't cry listening this album, this will be the song that will enter their heart, even today, it's hard for me to listen to this song without having tears in my eyes."

   Kobi, we know each other for more then 10 years. No one could have ever thought that during all these years you released no more than three albums... If we entered future... ten years ahead..., what would you prefer answering me in 2014 about you and your activity? That you would rather be a father for 10 kids, with a shaved head... going your beard reaching your knees... mumbling prayers at each meal...and after all earning his existence because of selling various cheap stuff... and above all... listening (hidden in the toilet room... he, he) in the headphones... what else than "Mabool"... In other words, where would you like to be ten years from now on?

   "Sometimes I don't know if what we are doing is helping in a way, 10 years ago, when we released Sahara we sang about the same things, still reality here is the same, but I guess that without hope we are lost, I don't like to speak about the future as it is forbidden, I can only wish that 10 years from now I will sing about fairytales and ancient stories and not about a sad reality, I hope that Harmony and prosperity will come to all the sons of God, and 10 kids sounds great to me, just let me find the right Mother (I have patience, so, be efficient!!!-ED) .

   Thanks for the longest interview we ever did, it was great to do it and I thank you for every minute of dedication and love you gave our band, may we meet soon in an OL gig in Romania!!!! All the best my brother."

February, 2004