The last few years have seen a huge number of small scale tours by bands from across the metal spectrum. Bands that probably would never have expected to find their way to Australia in years gone by now arrived regularly. Orphaned Land from Israel are one such band, and show number two of their three step tour saw them heading to the Esplanade Hotel in Melbourne Aussie acts Voyager and Orsome Welles rounding out the bill.
Opening act Orsome Welles were quite frankly the surprise hit of the night. It’s such value when the opening support blows you away. Their music tends to blend progressive metal with some tinges of grunge, always swapping between light and dark in a similar fashion to Opeth. Although they may have been the least established band on the bill, the musicianship and tightness of the band could have fooled anybody. The change of dynamics from the whole band and the astute articulation from lead singer Michael Stowers, works completely in their favour as they clearly have a firm grasp of their instruments and roles. Orsome finished their set with one of the heaviest tracks of the night, with windmills and menacing faces being supplied by the Mark Morton lookalike Steven Angell on guitar. It’d be worth anyone’s while to get to the next show these young lads have, as their unique sound and presence on stage is sure to capture the attention of a broad range of music fans.
Perth band Voyager were next up, hitting the stage and launching straight into their own brand of melodic power/prog metal. Vocalist Danny Estrin was in fine voice and kept the tempo of the night moving with plenty crowd interaction. This is a band that has been around for a while, and it shows in their professionalism and stage dynamics. The tracks were crisp, tight, and played with enthusiasm and a fair degree of synchronised headbanging across the stage. The mid-set “top 40 hits medley”, vaguely reminiscent of Scatterbrain’s ‘Down With The Ship’, added plenty of humour to what was overall a solid and highly enjoyable performance.
Finally, slightly later than expected, Orphaned Land walked out to a roar of approval from the waiting fans. For the next 75 minutes the crowd was treated to the land of milk and honey’s finest metal moments as the band worked through a set drawn from across all the albums in the bands catalogue. The title track from the 2013 album ‘All is One’ was an early standout, despite some initial mix issues that had the vocals somewhat lost. It’s a track that so perfectly encompasses the band, both musically and lyrically, and it set the tone for the show. The middle eastern opening melody and choirs from the backing tracks blended perfectly with the live band to create a great atmosphere. Towards the middle of the set the vibe seemed to, for some reason, wane a little but frontman Kobu Farhi quickly got things moving again with the introduction of a volunteer belly dancer from the audience. Their self-styled brand of oriental metal is certainly a niche within a niche, but watching the band deliver their unique blend of sounds and styles there is no doubt that Orphaned Land deserve their accolades, and teh crowd were clearly enjoying every moment. The infectious ethnic rhythms and driving metal guitars were a fantastic combination that, unfortunately, ended all too soon.
Three diverse and great bands, one great celebration of live metal music and its ability to cross genres and cultural boundaries. Simply one of those nights when it’s a pure pleasure to get out, get into a venue, and let the music play.
Reviewed by Josh Voce and Karl Lean
Photos By Mark Hoffmann Photography © 2014