Tunis - Chen Balbus is an Israeli guitarist, composer and producer at Orphaned Land, an oriental metal band, formed in 1991, under Resurrection.
Tunis – Chen Balbus is an Israeli guitarist, composer and producer at Orphaned Land, an oriental metal band, formed in 1991, under Resurrection.
This young metaller is 22 years old and is originally from Bat Yam. He believes the killing of Yoav, Yohan, François-Michel and Philippe at HyperKosher, a Jewish supermarket in eastern Paris, is responsible for the rift between those at war with terrorism and those at war with religion. “Our message is peace and hopefully we will make a big difference in this world one day”, said Balbus in an interview with Morocco World News.
MWN: Why did you change the name “Resurrection” into “Orphaned Land”?
Chen Balbus: Our bass player, Uri came to Kobi’s house back then, believing that he found the right name for the band. Uri brought a CD of a famous Israeli artist named Yehuda Poliker and took the Hebrew meaning of Orphaned Land meaning the country and translated it to English, and from there the name remained. The real reason the name stucks with Orphaned Land is that Yehuda Poliker wrote us a song that accurates the land- this song is called ‘Shamai’m’ from our latest album ‘All Is One’.
MWN: To what extent was your professional experience at Orphaned Land useful for your personal life?
Chen Balbus: Hard to tell in brief – but in general I could definitely say that Orphaned Land and our message defined me and the rest of the guys as individuals that want only to share what is good and to spread a message of peace and light.
MWN: What is your philosophy of life?
Chen Balbus: I personally don’t believe in any religion other than music – It proved more than anything else that we can all be together just for the music we like, not caring where the other is from and how he looks or his cultural background.
Music has taught me that there is always a need to respect others no matter what and has inspired me to be a better person.
MWN: Orphaned Land was originally a death metal band, why have you mixed it with Oriental (1994)?
Chen Balbus: As a band, you always strive to sound unique and have your own thing.
And of course Orphaned Land didn’t want to sound like a Finnish-Swedish Metal Band or an American metal band. So we took what relates to us and mixed heavy metal with Oriental influences and created ‘Oriental Metal’.
Orphaned Land and Religion
MWN: In your songs, you emphasize religion via symbolic signs and lyrics. Why and how?
Chen Balbus: I wouldn’t say that we emphasize religion – but we do use it as a motive to show our message of unity that no matter what your beliefs are and your cultural background – we are all the same human beings and we don’t need to fight one another for false ideals in the name of religion.
MWN: How do you define religion?
Chen Balbus: Religion to me is a tool that is supposed to teach you how to be a better person. From the stories that have been told in the Bible and so on –
Those are all guide lines that should make you find the path to act the right way and learn how to treat everyone with respect and have your morals.
MWN: “All is One,” what does the title tell you in real life?
Chen Balbus: Simple as it is in every single thing – especially at the Orphaned Land shows.
We are an Israeli band that has numerous fans across Arab countries evehthough we are supposedly the ennemy for some people– yet, people love our music and they believe we are not any different from them. We are not enemies; we are all brothers and humans.
MWN: Some rumors say that death metal is anti-religious, others say even that death metal is a satanic philosophy (which is not necessary true), what do you say about it?
Chen Balbus: To tell the truth I never really got into the lyrics of death metal bands.
Music is a way of expression – even if in a very harsh aggressive and upfront way. As long as it doesn’t support hate messages – it’s not bad.
MWN: How would you solve this equation: death metal and coexistence of the three monotheistic religions?
Chen Balbus: This is pretty much our reality in the Middle-East, living between Jews, Christians and Muslims.
Metal in general I think is the most sincere genre that allows you to express your most pure thoughts towards anything.
MWN: What do you think about the rumors revolving around metal and its relationship to the sacred?
Chen Balbus: I barely mind rumors – in general there’s always good and bad to everything. You just need to do your best with what you have and show the good side. Metal to me is one of the best things in life and for many others can be like some sort of a religion.
Orphaned Land and Culture
MWN: Contrary to many bands, you respect gender equality by including a female signer (Yemen-Israeli) in your band, was it a pure hazard?
Chen Balbus: There is hazard in everything we do, but when you believe in something and you see the support that follows – you just absorb all the power and energy you need to continue doing and showing that all we are is One. It means that if you believe in humanity values you can look for everything that is common to different people so that you can unify them.
MWN: You value cultural diversity via your projects. Is it difference what creates comprehension?
Chen Balbus: We always try to show that no matter what your religion, your culture, your skin color or anything else – you should respect one another and not promote hate towards another just because he or she is different. We are all people after all and hatred won’t help us and it is definitely better for future generations to live in a better world, in peace.
MWN: How can this kind of thinking promote tolerance and transform conflicts in the world?
Chen Balbus: So far Orphaned Land members are the most famous Israelis around Arab countriesand people all over the world support our message of unity and peace.
Of course we can’t change the world in a day but we are on the right track as long as we have our fans supporting us and our message.
MWN: What message do you want the public to take away today?
Chen Balbus: We should be a war with terrorisme not with religion. Respect everyone no matter what and always inspire to be a better person for us, yourselves and especially for children – for them to live in a better world without any fear of hate and war or any kind of bloodshed.
MWN: What are your plans?
Chen Balbus: Orphaned Land will continue touring around the world, sharing our music and spreading the message of peace and hopefully we will make a big difference in this world one day.
What was your experience in France and are you planning on some projects in Maghreb, especially with Myrath, a Tunisian oriental metal band?
Chen Balbus: We have many fans in Israel. In France, we have many fans as well and it is one of my personal favorite countries to perform in. There is nothing planned at the moment with Myrath (They toured with Orphaned Land in 2011) but who knows what future times might bring.