Metal Mofos’ Isaac Sauers recently corresponded with Orphaned Land’s Chen Balbus to get some detail on their new album Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs, musical background, and Israeli life. Read the interview in full below.
Metal Mofos: Your new album Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs dropped on the 26th of this month. Do you have a favorite song from this album you can tell us about?
Chen: Actually I can’t pick out just one since I love all of them. They are all part of this beautiful conceptual story, pieces of a grand puzzle.
MM: How do you approach your songwriting? How do you choose lyrical themes?
Chen: We were lucky enough to have both Idan’s and my studio that granted us the time to look closely over the songs, maximize every part of them to the best. The lyrics always come from our daily lives and the events around us, we wanted to open people’s eyes to what’s really happening in the world. So much stuff happens out there while everyone chooses to stay in their comfortable place in silence. We eat everything the media feeds us with, and we wanted to wake the world up. The allegory of the Cave by Plato was the perfect way to tell that story.
MM: Is it difficult to pull off Orphaned Land’s sound live? I can imagine it can be complicated with the different instruments used in your songs.
Chen: Most of the time, we are just the 5 of us on stage, playing the basics while the other instruments are played from playback tracks. We try as much as possible to have more musicians with us on stage to enhance the live feel.
MM: Heavy metal music isn’t really what a lot of people associate Israel with. Would you say there are a lot of heavy metal fans in Israel?
Chen: For the past few years people have grown to know more about Israel and be aware about what’s going on here. I can gladly say that it’s one of my most favorite places on earth to be in a concert and play one. Warm loving and awesome crowd. So far, everyone I know that was here – wanted to come back and play here again.
MM: Who were some of your favorite bands who have influenced your own music?
Chen: As for me personally, Guns N Roses and other classics started the whole thing for me. I’m very much inspired by the American music culture, combined
with what I grew up on here in the middle east. The good thing about us in OL is that we all have different roots that everyone brings another ingredient to the stew.
MM: If you could have people reading this who have never heard your music listen to 5 songs, what would they be?
1. Birth of The Three
2. Norra El Norra
3. Like Orpheus
MM: Will we see you in the United States in 2018?
Chen: We’re counting on it!
MM: Pop artist Lorde recently canceled a performance in Israel for her so-called Israel boycott. What was your reaction to this? Why do you think other artists can’t be like Orphaned Land and try to bridge people together through music instead of tear them apart?
Chen: I’m always surprised and quite shocked by musicians who decide to boycott a whole country and more than that – their fans. So ok, you have a bad idea regarding our government – fine. But denying your fans of your music? What did they do bad? And even so…one should speak his message – that’s what music is for. If you seek a peaceful one, Speak peace – and there will be peace. Boycotting never gained anything rather than creating more hate.
MM: What was your reaction to US President Donald Trump confirming the US will officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? Do you think this will help the case for peace in the region?
Chen: There was no real effect besides provoking when it was unnecessary. Peace comes in many ways, not in random declarations like these.
MM: Could you please tell us a bit about life in Israel? What do people like to do for fun? What are some favorite foods and drink? What’s the best beer in Israel?
Chen: Israel is a sunny country, so people tend to go out here a lot, enjoy the landscapes, the beach, outdoors and so on. I’m personally in love with Hummus, some can even make me cry out of joy and pleasure. Just come and see for yourself. Make sure to try Goldstar beer!