Kobi Farhi (Oriental Metal) Eng.

– Hello Kobi, thanks for answering to our questions. What are you currently up to?

Hello, I’m promoting the ORIENTAL METAL compilation now days, also working on my book, a tango between God & Satan, I hope to finish it later this year 🙂

– Recently Century Media released “Oriental Metal” compilation, and its been told you guys (ORPHANED LAND) defined the genre though back then some other bands were already adding Oriental music elements to their Metal basis. So first of all, how could you describe this musical style?

Well, basically Oriental Metal consist elements from the traditional metal music, and together with that, middle eastern, oriental elements, scales, instruments and languages are added to it. Just as Finland’s folk having its own elements, the same thing happening here, but it’s more from the eastern side of the world.

 

– We all know Heavy Metal, Doom Metal, Death Metal… But we could say Oriental Metal hasn’t really been established as a genre itself yet. What do you think is the main reason behind this?

Well there is also Norwegian Black Metal, Swedish Death Metal or Finland’s Folk Metal etc. The centre of the world wide metal scene had always been in Europe (mainly Germany, UK, France who also have the biggest festivals etc) & USA of course, the Middle East is far away, and doesn’t reflect in its sounds/lyrics and themes the reality of Europe or the USA, and that for itself keeps the ORIENTAL METAL scene out of the main focus. Another reason is that the countries of Oriental Metal bands are mainly the Middle Eastern countries, and except Israel which is a democracy, the rest of the countries (like Syria, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia etc) are not, that fact makes their metal scene life harder & harder. I know about Jordanian bands who cannot play in Jordan, in Iran rock music is e-legal, in Egypt our fan was thrown to 6 months in jail because the police found an Orphaned Land CD in his home, we are working with a belly dancer from Lebanon, she waved the flags of Israel & Lebanon together with us and she cannot go back to Lebanon anymore, so other then Israel, their reality is hard, and they work hard, that is also one of the reasons, why I decided, as one of the leaders of this scene to release this compilation. Those people are re-defining the word underground and we all must support them in the name of metal music, as much as we can.

 

– You are hailing from Israel; are things easy in the country boarders for a Metal band? And could you say in other countries things would have been easier for you if you were hailing from Northern Europe, for instance?

Technically yeah, it could have been easier for me if instead of having thousands of Euros spent on flights to Europe we could just take the train or do it with a car. The Distance is against us here, on the other hand, we could never create our music in another place, Orphaned Land’s music and oriental metal music are reflected from the Mid-east and cultures of the orient.

 

– Anyway in the compilation we can find bands from different countries, countries with different religions, cultures… But is interesting to see a link between them all: this music. Is music some kind of twinning?

Music is the best religion in the world. This compilation is a journey and a trip to the sands of the Middle Eastern orphaned lands, so everything is in there, Arabic, Hebrew, English, Oriental scales, Oriental instruments, The compilation consist Orphaned Land of course with the song Sapari, who is a 400 years old Jewish poem that was written in Yemen by the poet Sa’adia Ben Amram. The bands I mentioned previously – Khalas, Myrath, Arkan are there too of course as well as ‘Amaseffer’ from Israel who made a concept album about the biblical story of The Sons of Israel in Egypt, a true masterpiece. On the other hand you can find ‘Sand Aura’ an unknown band from Egypt who decided bravely to cover the Jewish Hasidic famous melody «Hava Nagila». The compilation also consist bands from Turkey (Pentagram) USA (Nile) Holland (Melechesh) and Dubai (Nervecell) but they all share the ORIENTAL METAL vision, a vision that is not only musical but it’s also a message and inspiration to our politic leaders, we play music together, shared busses and homes together and if we can do it, our nations can definitely do it

 

– Getting a bit into this album, “Oriental Metal”, I could like to know how did you come up with the idea.

Everything started 21 years ago when I formed Orphaned Land, We were the pioneers and inventors of the ORIENTAL HEAVY METAL style. I started to realize the power of our music only 11 years ago, when I received an email from a Palestinian guy from Jordan who made a tattoo of Orphaned Land’s logo in his arm, ever since that day we focus on bringing people together, especially the historically cousins and today’s enemies – Jews & Muslims. Over the last decade I have exposed to the biggest admiration an Israeli Jew has ever got from the Arab world. I have so many stories about it that I’m
actually already writing my Biography book and I’m just 36 years old. We released latley our first ever DVD «The Road to Or-Shalem» just a few months after that and in our DVD launch party show, our opening band was an Arab Israelis, a Palestinian band called «Khalas» I remember having fears that our fans might not like them but it was this miracle again, our fans embraced them and loved them. We took it to the next level and while we went to a European tour to promote the DVD, our support bands were from Tunisia (Myrath) and Algeria/Morocco (Arkan), for 30 days in a row, on the roads, us and them, Jews & Muslims, lived together in a bus, as one family, and proved once more, how easy it is to get along, to co-exist.

Those events that happened to me with Orphaned Land during the last decade had brought me to the conclusion that this utopist idea needs to be told in any way that is possible. So our story had hit the media in several times and yet I felt there is more to be done, that was the point where I thought I should gather all this leading ORIENTAL METAL bands into a CD compilation, some introduction of what we all do for years now, and so I did. Now we just need to get the support of the metal fans who will get a copy of this compilation 

 

– And what are your goals for the album? Would you like to spread and let people know a bit more about the style?

I personally think and believe that ORIENTAL METAL is the future of the metal scene, cause people are already familiar with all styles, and people always desire to find and explore new adventures, and it is ORIENTAL METAL’s time now! A few months ago we did the first Oriental metal tour ever, when Orphaned Land toured Europe and Arkan & Myrath supported, and now we have this compilation, and time will tell if I was right or not.

 

– As I said before, we can find 10 different bands hailing from different countries and with different musical styles, different elements. This being said, is an album that shows the versatility on Oriental Metal. Was this something you wanted to depict with this release?

Yes of course, I always say this: Our countries may be in conflicts, our countries flags may carry different symbols and colors, but deep in our hearts we’re all united under the same flag – the flag of hope, friendship, brotherhood, the flag of ORIENTAL METAL!

 

– And how was the process of choosing the bands and songs featured on the record?

I’m very much familiar in this scene and being good friends with many of the bands, in some songs (Amaseffer, Arkan) I even do some backing vocals. As I said before, with some of them we toured and played together. It was important to me that this compilation will souind like a journey, like one album, and I was very selective in the songs I picked, I can assure you that I already have material for the next compilation, but first we need this one to sucseed.

 

– We can find well-known acts as MELECHESH or NILE, but there are some others that might be interesting discoveries for some people, as PENTAGRAM or ALMANA SHCHORA. Could you please write a few words about each band?

Sure, here you go:

Orphaned Land – Sapari

Orphaned Land are considered the fathers and pioneers of the worldwide Oriental Metal genre. The Israeli based band has been active for the last 20 years, released 5 albums and 1 live DVD. The have a huge following of fans from all across the globe and have been touring the world relentlessly over and over again while spreading the Oriental Metal tunes & message at the biggest festivals and tours in more than 30 countries so far.

Amaseffer – Slaves For Life

* Guest backing vocals and chants by Kobi Farhi (Orphaned Land)

A classic soundtrack of Oriental Metal atmosphere. The band released one very promising album so far, telling the story of the sons of Israel in Egypt. Featuring Mats Leven (Yngwie Malmsteen, Therion) on vocals.

Arkan – Deus Volt

* Guest Vocals by Kobi Farhi (Orphaned Land)

The Ambassadors of Oriental Metal in France. The band consists of members from Morocco, Algeria & France, and with 2 album releases and 2 tours made with Orphaned Land Arkan is starting to get their own fan base all over Europe.

Pentagram – Lions In A Cage

God fathers of the Turkish metal scene, who have been active since 1986 (!!), started experimenting with strong Oriental Metal influences and sounds for the first time in their 1997 release «Anatolia».

Myrath – Merciless Times

The Oriental Metal lords of the Maghreb region. Hailing from Tunisia, they started as a cover band in 2001 and released 3 albums so far. Myrath is amongst some the most promising bands of today’s Oriental Metal scene.

Almana Schora – Elohhim

One of the oldest heavy metal bands in Israel, singing mainly in Hebrew and never played outside Israel, strongly supported by their home fan base, the band has been active since the late 1980s.

Nervecell – The Taste Of Betrayel

Started in early 2000, emerging from the Arab Emirates. Nervecell focuses on the brutal side of Oriental Metal. They recently supported bands such as Suffocation, and Morbid Angel.

Khalas – Haz El Adala Mayel

A Palestinian/Israeli band, formed & based in Acre, singing mainly in Arabic, writing their debut album these days including original material & renewing old Arabian classics into heavy metal versions.

Nile – Kaffir

Hailing from America, formed in 1993, they use a lot of ancient Egyptian & Middle Eastern motives and texts, released 6 albums so far.

Melechesh – Grand Gathas Of Baal Sin

The kings of Mesopotamian Oriental Black Metal started in 1993. The band was originally formed in Jerusalem and is today based in Amsterdam.

Ahl Sina – Founatins Of Muses

Rising force from the Egyptian metal scene, still unsigned and covering here a very atmospheric oriental version of the Jewish «Hava Nagila».

 

– We can also find ARKAN and MYRATH, bands that supported you on your last tour. Did this have something to do with the choice of including them on the compilation?

Not really, they are simply a great Oriental metal bands and that was the only case in which we added them to the tour and to this compilation. Of course we are very very good friends, but i have many other friends whom their music or production was still not good enough to enter this CD, but I am patiently waiting for their future songs. I know how it is, if you’ll listen to Orphaned Land’s songs of 20 yars ago and now, you’ll understand my point.

 

– If I’m not mistaken the artwork is quite special, with some pictures and info about the bands, something interesting for a release of this kind and, of course, a good way to get people buy the album on an era where free downloads are ruling the industry and where bands seem to forget about the visual aspects of their releases but, how could you encourage someone to buy the album?

Well, artwork is definitely one of this important things, it has always been important to me. Other than that in this compilation case it’s a matter of how much does the metal fan are willing to support us. Like i said many of these bands act in underground terms that are unbelievable, we are Jews and Muslims who are doing peace in the name of music, and it’s metal music, not Jazz and not some «shanty banti» music, so all i can hope is that metal fans, who are always the best – will support this by getting their copy in their local store, or online, we also sell it in the Orphaned Land’s website.

 

– Despite in general doesn’t seem to know that much about Oriental Metal music, I guess there still may be a lot of bands to discover; are there any other bands/tracks you would have liked to feature? Do you plan releasing any other volumes for this compilation?

There are many more bands, like I said in previous answers, i already plan vol 2, but we need vol 1 to be successful enough and I’ll definitely continue with this mission, there is still a lot to explore about the ORIENTAL METAL scene and I’m here to do it!

 

– That has been everything from my side, thank you once more for your time. If you now want to add some final words; feel free to do it.

ORIENTAL METAL IS HERE! And you are one of the first ones to witness that. We send you all greetings from the orient side of the world, Shalom, Salam, Peace!

Tania Giménez

tania@queensofsteel.com

 

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