Artist: Orphaned Land
Venue: B.B. King Blues Club (New York, NY)
Opener: Suidakra, Gwynbleidd
Label: Century Media Records
The weekend is almost always sanctuary for the workaday types and those that are entrenched in study. If they are lucky, by the time that it comes around it has given them the escape of a rousing Metal show and this past weekend, as our March Metal Madness began, we surely had our fill because the mighty Kreator performed on Saturday around the corner at the Nokia Theatre while last night was Hammerfall down at The Fillmore. I could think of no better way to prepare oneself for the usual grind and while Monday’s almost always suck when it comes down to it – this would not be the case tonight because down inside the welcoming walls of B.B. King Blues Club, a show of amazing proportions was going to take place. From Israel would come Orphaned Land, a band that while making a couple of appearances at a Prog-Metal festival over the years had never embarked on a lengthy tour of this region and their direct support for this batch of shows would be Germany’s Suidakra. We caught Suidakra once before over at The Highline Ballroom when they appeared for the Pagan Knights tour with Tyr & Alestorm. Starting the evening off for all of the gathering Metal heads would be Brooklyn’s own Gwynbleidd.
Gwynbleidd: The special nature of tonight’s show was raised up a couple of notches with the additional of Brooklyn’s own Gwynbleidd. We’ve reviewed the band’s area appearances for about a year now and cannot say enough good things about their brand of Melodic and Atmospheric Death Metal. After a very long wait the band finally had been able to release their full-length recording “Nostalgia” and it would be interesting to see how they went over to this obviously very new crowd to their sound. With three bands on the bill the show started early but luckily many of the wise ones arrived just in time to see Gwynbleidd take the stage. This evening would find no security barrier between audience and stage so the fans were able to get right up front and close to the action and this was probably equally exciting to the band who was making their very first appearance at this venue tonight. If you like music that touches the lines that we find in Opeth then I feel it’s safe to say that you will enjoy what they are all about. Tonight I was observing the crowd as much as Gwynbleidd because I’ve already been convinced that we are getting something awesome from them and I was happy to see the heads banging in time to the music that was being played. The band consists of Maciej (death growls and guitar), his brother Jacob (bass), Adam (drums) and Michal (lead guitar and clean vocals) and while you knew this gig was a wonderful experience for them you couldn’t tell from the solemn tone that Maciej speaks in. The group is more about the music than being loaded with fluff and that works well within the context of these tunes. The set was a healthy chunk of the “Nostalgia” album but they would pull a surprise out of their hat and do something from their EP “Amaranthine”. I believe it was “Lure Of The Land” and it was a very Folkish number that Maciej instructed the audience to clap along with when necessary. They did well tonight and one can hope that their impressive sound, set and fan response finds them returning soon. Let’s cross our fingers. Suidakra was next.
Suidakra: When I learned about this tour I was informed about it being a Suidakra headlining gig but while Orphaned Land was joining them on the bill they would be performing first. The co-headlining thing never truly makes sense to me but with bands like this we do find much more swapping than we did when Slayer was co-headlining with Marilyn Manson and going on first every single night no matter what. Either way, the two bands would be playing longer sets and that was all that mattered to me as a fan of their brand of Celtic Metal. The band appeared as we referenced earlier with both Tyr and Alestorm and while they had gone on super early were a runaway hit in the eyes of the fans. I believed that show to be the bands first time in NYC and that makes tonight their second run at the Big Apple. Since that last appearance the band had released a new album entitled “Crogacht” and in case you were wondering this is the Irish word for “bravery” and the albums premise is a very exciting one. They hit the stage with amazing energy and had the crowd that had just gotten crushed by Gwynbleidd now all the more active based on the overall speed and drive of their material. The band is fronted by Arkadius who seemed to like having the fans right there in his face as he growled and screamed their Celtic Metal message to approving ears and while the set list seemed lengthy there were a number of tunes crossed off which meant that while longer than the Highline Ballroom show, that it would still be a little shorter than Orphaned Land’s set.
They sounded great and proved by crowd response alone that they were a headlining US tour waiting to happen and yes I do know that once Orphaned Land goes back to Israel that this will be the case for them. They would only play eight of the seventeen listed numbers but no one seemed to mind since it was such an exhausting and powerful set regardless. There was a lot of movement during their numbers and after they finished the smarter fans moved with some intent to get some water in them. Musically they would only do two songs from the newest album and leave the other six to the releases that preceded it. It was a little bit of a bummer than no bagpipes player was onstage with them since they use the instrument to such effect but I am sure that travelling with such an addition really takes away from the gigs bottom line. After their set the band met with any fans that caught their attention and in speaking to them quickly I learned that they did have a blast and wanted to come back to this place soon. Let’s hope so and if you missed them then you need to be paying more attention for the next time. Now it was time for Orphaned Land and I was very interested/excited/hopeful about what their show would be like.
Orphaned Land: A few years ago I heard the band’s album “Mabool” and was hooked because to be honest I had never heard anything like this before. I’ve often maintained that Heavy Metal music was a worldwide thing and expected places like the Middle East to offer up their own take on the genre, but was totally floored by the way that this band of Israelis did their thing. It’s an album you should look into in my humble opinion and now at long last the band had given us its follow-up, “The Never Ending Way Of OrwarriOr”. Though the band is Middle Eastern in origin and home, they actually label this interesting brand of Metal exploration as “Oriental Metal”. It’s a little difficult to describe in one genre association and while it’s naming convention is unique it is a tasteful blend of some Progressive ideas blended with ethic melodies from both Israeli and Arabic culture and conventional Heavy Metal aesthetics. On their albums they use a lot of traditional instruments and this brings a whole new level of intense to their sound. The band is fronted by the very personable Kobi Farhi, and this evening he and his band mates were dressed in robes for the most part that brought a little bit of the Middle East to our venue for added effect.
From the moment that Orphaned Land hit the stage, the room was filled with a very infectious positive energy that was great to see happening at a Metal show. There was no real moshing going on per se, but instead everyone jumping up and down in place to the tunes which I didn’t mind for a change since I wasn’t fearing for my safety with a roiling circle pit inches away from me. To be honest this is not moshing kind of music anyways and just something that you had to let affect your Metal state of mind based on all the interesting stuff what was going on inside it. The band stands at five members with Yossi Sa’aron Sassi (lead guitars), Matti Svatitzki (guitars), Uri Zelcha (bass) and Matan Shmuely (drums) and while there was a female vocal present during a lot of the songs tonight there was no girl among the roster up on the stage. In terms of the set list makeup, the band wisely broke it up into a healthy mix of the new recording and a nice taste of “Mabool”. I liked that a larger emphasis was focused on the new album because it was still very new to my ears and yet despite not totally knowing it, was able to find myself getting into every single number. That’s a plus and especially important to note this when you see an audience of new fans to the bands sound in general. I knew for a fact in advance that many people just decided to take a chance on this show tonight and that is what being a Metal community of fans is all about. If you spend the money on the ticket – then you should arrive early and absorb all of what you paid for. Some of the newer fans to the band’s sound might have been scratching their heads a couple of times if they didn’t seem to understand what was being sung and no, they were not mistaken, for the band was indeed singing a good part of tonight’s set in their native Hebrew. It was a really interesting dynamic to hear hitting those audio sensors.
Kobi spoke to the crowd on a number of occasions tonight and had this aspect to him that made you feel as though you were listening to a long time friend speak. I had mentioned that the vibe of the show was a positive one along with being an energetic one and this was not just a momentary thing but a mood that was keep in play all through the night. The new album sounds fantastic in the live sense and I must get myself a copy of it soon so I can better absorb it. Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson actually produced this album, and he is quite the wizard at this task himself so I cannot wait to get this material into a set of headphones. It sounds much different from what you have heard on “Mabool” but it’s in a kicking it up a notch sense. For me they played a number of my favorites from that album while also presenting me wit what I needed to know about their new music and everyone in the venue was responding well to it. The show moved towards its close when they spoke of the cover that they have been doing for awhile by Turkish Rock musician Erkin Koray in “Estarabim”. I admit that I was surprised at how many people knew this one, or at least appeared to from where I was standing. They finalized the evening by doing a rousing “Norra el Norra” from “Mabool” and this had everyone dancing and singing in a festive manner that I would like to see done more when the music is applicable for such activity.
A few more shows are ahead for Orphaned Land and Suidakra together and for the first night of a short tour as allies I had to say that it was a rousing success. B.B. King’s was very crowded and this was nice to see especially when one considered how Alice In Chains was playing over at Terminal 5 tonight. As much as I love AIC, I had to admit that tonight this was the place to be based on just how interesting every single moment of the show was. With this show I can safely say that if you missed it, you missed out. Everyone who took part in the concert this evening was a part of something very special and different. After Texas, Orphaned Land will drop off this tour and return home but lets hope that they come back soon for a longer tour and if so, I recommend that you catch them. It’s clear that Suidakra wants to return and the Gwynbleidd guys proved to a new audience how they also have what it takes to succeed on this stage. Satisfying? Hell yes and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. For a Monday, this was a kick in the ass and one that would prepare me best for the appearance of W.A.S.P. at the Gramercy Theatre this coming Thursday. March Metal Madness still has twenty three days left in it so make sure you are checking your concert listings to see what’s worth attending in your region.
Suidakra Set List:
2. Isle Of Skye
3. Well Of Might – omitted
4. Darkane Times
5. Dead Man’s Reel
7. Gates Of Nevermore
8. Gilded Oars – omitted
9. Morrigan – omitted
10. Drown The Lost – omitted
11. Shattering Swords
12. Havoc – omitted
13. Dragonbreed – omitted
14. Pendragon’s Fall – omitted
15. Baile’s Strand – omitted
16. Marooned – omitted
17. The IXthe Legion
Orphaned Land Set List:
2. From Broken Vessels
4. Kiss Of Babylon
5. Disciples Of The Sacred Oath II
6. Birth Of The Three
7. Olat Ha’tamid
8. El Meod Naala
9. Vayehi Or
10. The Warrior
11. Halo Dies
12. The Path Part 1: Treading Through Darkness
13. Ocean Land
14. In Thy Neverending Way
16. Norra el Norra
We took a few moments to say hello and see what was going on in the backstage area to give you all a sneak peak and of course the dressing room was prepped and ready for their visitors.
I asked the guys to stand in front of the B.B. King’s logo banner that spans the wall leading to the dressing rooms and my timing was fortuitous as the band was preparing to go walk around in Times Square in their stage attire and with show flyers to get a little extra attention to the show that was coming up in a few hours.
Kobi felt that this would be an interesting thing to do on the streets of NYC but I had to laugh and tell him that since it was NYC and now Rush Hour that they might very well blend into the masses of humanity that are trying to get home. Either way, they were sure to have a good time out there and that was all that mattered.
As you saw in the image a couple back, the band was dressed in not only their own stage clothes but some of them in other cultures. They felt that this would be a lot more interesting and I overheard one of the fans saying as they walked out into the street that this could be very good, or very, very bad. Fortunately everyone made it back in one piece and was not bothered by any idiots that might have been out there.
Here’s all of the guys in Gwynbleidd who were enjoying a couple of cold beers before they went out to crush the audience with their brand of Metal. No, they were not drinking Zywiec brand but something as tasty just the same. Pictured from left to right are Michal, Adam, Jacob and Maciej.
Back inside the venue we found Gwynbleidd’s Adam Romanowski kicking back a Guinness while Kobi relied on the soothing powers of tea since he still had a set to perform.
When you do shows in New York City you never can imagine who you are going to run into so we were pleasantly surprised to find Mahavatar’s Lizza Hassan stopping by to speak to Kobi. We’ve not seen Lizza’s band in some time and we look forward to hearing them again since we really enjoyed what they were all about.
We’re closing out our blog treats about this show with this image of lead singer Kobi Farhi, so if you want to see the rest of the story you will just have to click that band logo at the top where you can read all about the entire night and see a ton of our live concert photos. You know you want to so why wait any longer. Keep it Metal everyone.
Before we begin sharing some of the other candid moments that we snapped this evening, we couldn’t resist presenting the bands name up on the famous marquee of B.B. King Blues Club. Welcome to America guys.