Review by Mark Granger
An unusual sight greets the attendees of Orphaned Land’s debut Leicester show; namely that of a giant tour bus outside the usually modest Firebug, where bands are usually seen unloading from a van or more often than not their cars. Orphaned Land are not most bands however and are used to playing much larger venues, and tonight they’re playing the 100 capacity Leicester venue as part of their ten year anniversary tour of their album Mabool: The Story of the Three Sons of Seven.
Things kick off however with purveyors self styled dark metal opera, Mylidian. Two things hamper this otherwise fantastic live band, first the crowd are either not aware of them and consequently indifferent and static throughout and second the sound is consistently muddy and many of the bands technical riffs are hidden under a swamp of mid-range. Singer Armendar, who switches between growls and soaring vocals with ease, is just as hidden in the mix. Not so his touring vocal partner Chaos Heidi, who covers the operatic side of things with ridiculous range and enough natural treble to pierce the sonic mire.
Silent Opera start things in style with energetic vocalist Steven Schriver coming up through the crowd and ripping into his vocal before he gets up on stage, only to add a comedy element to proceedings by putting one foot up on the monitor, then nearly falling over when it fails to stay where it should. Consummate professional that he is he doesn’t let it affect his performance and the band blast through their set of progressive metal with aplomb despite only having a fractionally clearer sound, managing to get the hard-to-win-over crowd on side by the end of their set.
When Orphaned Land take to the stage to the sounds of ‘A’salk’ the crowd has doubled, and as soon as they launch into ‘Halo Dies (The Wrath of God)’, the previously static audience suddenly ignites. Following it with the groove laden ‘All Is One’, the band now hold the assembled throng in the palm of their hands. The aforementioned groove inspiring the unusual site of actual proper dancing and stuff – at a metal gig. The crowd hang on singer Kobi Farhi’s every word so when he tells them to clap they clap, when he tells them to jump they jump yet the talk between songs is brief as they are determined to squeeze as much music into their allotted time. As such the banter is limited to relaying their message of unity through music and an almost embarrassed “Ten years ago we released our popular album Mabool, we’re going to play some songs from it now…”.
Ah yes, Mabool, considered Orphaned Land’s Master Of Puppets, they rip through the tracks tonight with as much passion as if it was their latest release, obviously feeding off the crowd as they sing the words back at them note for note. On tracks like ‘The Kiss Of Babylon (The Sins)’ the crowd reaches fever pitch and in a small venue like the Firebug that’s something to behold.
The set list isn’t the full album as promised, but the crowd doesn’t care, Orphaned Land play venues of all sizes over the world and their fans are relishing seeing the band they adore play such a tiny venue, and judging by tonight they play with as much passion and ferocity to 100 fans as they would to 10,000.