Artists You Need to Know / Interview: Pioneers of “Oriental Metal” – Orphaned Land


Meet the pioneers of Oriental Metal – Orphaned Land. If you haven’t heard of oriental metal, it’s pretty much heavy metal mixed with elements of Middle Eastern music; Orphaned Land was the band who really began this movement of mixing these sounds together into one.

The band began in the 90’s and has since gone through some lineup changes. Today’s lineup consists of founding members Kobi Farhi (vocalist) and Uri Zelha (bassist) with guitarists Chen Balbus and Idan Amsalem and drummer Matan Shmuely.

Orphaned Land’s music is really good. Can you head-bang? Of course! Can you mosh? Absolutely! The Middle Eastern influence in their music makes it different from most heavy metal bands you’re probably used to hearing, which is a good thing; it sets them apart. Some songs are more “traditional” metal, whereas other songs have a stronger Middle Eastern influence – such as a high use of the goblet drum – and some are right in the middle. They’re a great band with a signature sound, but what else would you expect from the band who pioneered oriental metal?

Orphaned Land has released a lot of songs, which can be a little bit overwhelming if this is your first introduction to the band. If you just want to test them out, YouTube “Sapari.” If you like that one, check out “Norra el Norra”. By this point, if you like both of those songs, you’ll be sucked into the world of Orphaned Land – and there’s no getting out once you’re in.

Guitarist Chen Balbus of Orphaned Land actually answered some questions for Concert Crap so we could get to know him a little bit better.

Concert Crap: How did you get into music?

Chen Balbus: The short version – I was 12 and I saw a poster of GNR, always wanted to have that coolness as they did as a rock n roll band with Slash on guitars.

CC: What made you join Orphaned Land?

CB: My brother sang with them as a guest vocals once and I remember seeing the picture of them on stage together – that truly made me want to know the band…and right after I heard the music I wanted to be part of it.

CC: What’s on your playlist right now?

CB: The new Orphaned Land album 🙂 and some Green Day in between.

CC: What’s your favorite kind of music to play?

CB: Rock n roll, mostly. Punk rock and early years of rock. 🙂

CC: What were you like in high school?

CB: Pretty much the same as I am today: Positive, joking about everything and clumsy.

CC: Which decade do you think had the best music: 60s, 70s, 80s, or 90s?

CB: Can’t really decide on just one since they all have their effect and it’s a matter of mood.

CC: What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you lately?

CB: Car crash outside my parents house.

CC: If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing right now?

CB: Probably doing sports and programming video games.

Orphaned Land is currently in the studio working on their upcoming album.

Post and interview by Karen Shalev

What are your thoughts on Orphaned Land? Comment below.

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