The German Folk/Power Metal band ORDEN OGAN last released an album in 2010: “Easton Hope”. This was also my first acquaintance with this band. You can see the review here. Later that same year AFM Records re-released the preceding album, “Vale”. That review can be read by clicking here. I could see the guys at work for a second time last year (2012) when they came to Belgium in support of LUCA TURILLI’S RHAPSODY (together with FREEDOM CALL), but circumstances obstructed me from going. Still, ORDEN OGAN had a new album out, “To The End” (since October 2012), so that sort of compensates it. And this also means that this review is way overdue. But as it goes when one has more on one’s hands than just writing… these things happen.
Anyway, “Easton Hope” and “Vale” sounded very good to me and turned ORDEN OGAN into one of my favourite bands in the Melodic Power Metal genre. No need to say that my expectations for “To The End” were high, as in a second “Easton Hope”. It took me a while, however, to appreciate the new tunes. Where the previous album was more or less a hit on first listen, the new release proved to be a bit harder to grasp. In the end, all turned out well.
It begins with “The Frozen Few”, frozen also referring to the album cover, which depicts a wintery image. This intro contains beautiful guitar work in a hymnic fashion. Twin leads, of course, and it sounds awesome. This combo builds up in volume, in power and proceeds towards “To The End, a pounding Power Metal track. Typical of ORDEN OGAN’s musicianship. Melodic guitarlines, powerful vocals and a good slab of catchiness. In the bridge the music rolls onwards to the bombastic, hymnic chorus. This part also contains choirs, to make it sounds grander. And as the guitar is a very important instrument in the band’s compositions, there’s enough room for solos.
“The Things We Believe In” begins in a smooth way, very calm as well, to prepare you for the upcoming outbreak of hymnic majesty. Speed is not an issue here, but it is nevertheless a powerful and bombastic song. The light Folky input adds to the melodicness. On a whole, the songs reminded me of TÝR’s tunes (and similar bands). So far, so very good. Speed is an issue in “Land Of The Dead”, as demonstrated by the skank beat. Aside from the pounding in the verses and bridge (like before, bombastic and voluminous with the layered singing) that leads to the choir-sung chorus, the band inserted a sort of resting moment in the middle, where the music is more modest.
Time for a break then with the first ballad: “The Ice Kings”. Clean vocals, an acoustic guitar and drums. Oh yes, and symphonic backing, but that’s for much later. An ORDEN OGAN track without the bombast, power and volume of the regular songs. While I’m generally not so fond of ballads, I have to say that Seeb and co. did a good job here. Another ballad, since this issue pops up, is the last track on the album, i.e. “Take This Light”. Here it’s just Seeb guided by the piano. Not bad, nothing super either.
And so the band carries on with METAL! “Till The Stars Cry Out” offers a shredding wake-up trip of relentless power and fierceness. The focal point is of course the axework (by Seeb and Tobin), but the melodies sure aren’t forgotten either. A soft orchestral break makes it possible to get back to your senses before the chorus is due again, this time slower and more hymnic. Great piece of music, it must be said. “This World Of Ice” is a change in sound and style somehow. Or rather, it’s still ORDEN OGAN’s Melodic Power Metal, but in a modern jacket, more blunt (due to the 7-string, I reckon). In contrast, the other songs sound sharper, more melodic, too. But despite the modern touch, the melodic/symphonic touch is still present. It has to be. The singing is low at first, but then opens up, turns into shouting. The pounding, melodic bridge leads to the chorus… which sounds so similar to the song “Welcome Liberty” on the “Easton Hope” album. Nothing wrong with that, many bands re-use compositions of previous releases, but it just sounded so apparent that one cannot ignore it.
Time for some Rock ‘n’ Roll then with “Dying Paradise”. As you can imagine by the title alone, the chorus is very catchy and easy to sing along. The song itself is uptempo, can be considered as Rock ‘n Roll-meets-Power Metal. Or in band terms, though not that correct: MOTÖRHEAD goes Power Metal. Add catchy melodies and you’ve got an impression of how “Dying Paradise” sounds. After this one, two oldies are due, songs that, according to the band, date back from their very early days and somehow never made it onto any release. Starting with “Mystic Symphony”, a fast, melodic Speed/Power Metal song. Add choirs to make it fit among the other songs on this album and melodies (mainly keyboards in the back for accents and filling) and done. Great stuff! The other one is “Angels War”, the longest track with over 7 minutes of music. After a calm intro, it’s (melodic) Metal time, again with a modern touch. The symphonic backing creates an effect of drama and emotion. Over halfway the power is cut and acoustic instrumentation takes over for a ballad-like intermezzo. Once the power is restored, the rhythm has changed and a solo is played. All ends with choir and orchestrations. You need to take your time with this one, but it’s worth it.
Long story short: “To The End” continues where “Easton Hope” left off. If you like(d) that album or ORDEN OGAN in general or Melodic/Symphonic Power Metal with a regular touch of bombast, then this new album is a must to have. Well, it’s a must-have anyway and without question one of the best releases of the past year (2012).
- The Frozen Few
- To The End
- The Things We Believe In
- Land Of The Dead
- The Ice Kings
- Till The Stars Cry Out
- This World Of Ice
- Dying Paradise
- Mystic Symphony
- Angels War
- Take This Light
Seeb Levermann – vocals, guitar
Tobin Kersting – guitar
Niels Löffler – bass
Dirk Meyer-Berhorn – drums