Orden Ogan – ‘Easton Hope’ (AFM Records) Print
CD Reviews
Written by David Whistance   
Tuesday, 19 January 2010 18:44

ORDEN_OGAN_-_Easton_Hope_artworkIn 2008 Orden Ogan released their debut album 'Vale' on the Yonah label. This was an album that would see the German melodic metallers reach new heights of success as magazines across Europe sent it to the top of the critics' album polls that year. All this culminated with the band finally being snapped up by the prestigious AFM record label home to such metal giants as Doro, Destruction and U.D.O.


Two years later and on the eve of the band's second release 'Easton Hope', I have the worthy task of reviewing their latest contribution to the metal world, the question on everyone's lips is, can the band really live up to their debut?


Well, on first listening to 'Euston Hope' the first thing that hits you square between the eyes is just how huge everything concerning the album is. From the pristine production work to the orchestral arrangements and symphonic keyboards, everything is larger than anything you'll hear this year (save for a new Manowar album perhaps), the music in turn transporting the listener to another world, a world where mortal men, wield their mighty swords whilst journeying across faraway lands to fight another battle...well it does in my head anyway...OK!


But after a few more listens the question I began to ask myself was "is the album a touch too pretentious for its own good?" And as committed as ever I'll come down firmly in the "most probably" camp.


There are some truly great metal moments on this album, particularly 'Nobody Leaves', with its opening pounding bass pedal action from drummer Ghnu pulverising the listener's ears with expert precision, leading into some fine fret mastery from guitarist Tobi, which continues with 'The Black Heart' itself another melodic metal master class.


My main musical bugbear with this album however is the over use of choirs, and the fact that they seem to appear on nearly every track. When I first heard the ensemble towards the beginning of the album, I thought it was a nice touch, adding a certain ambience to the proceedings, but by the time I reached the concluding number 'Of Downfall And Decline' I simply could not face another choral outburst. And there were times during 'Easton Hope' that I felt I had to check my CD player to ensure someone hadn't put in an Andrew Lloyd Webber production as a wind up.


I also don't know where this sudden fascination within metal for pirates stems from, but if I had my way any band dressing like Capt Jack Sparrow and singing tales of rum and high seas would be walking a very short plank. Therefore the teaming up with Running Wild guitarist Majik Moti on the track 'We Are Pirates' frankly leaves me cold. It also leaves me thinking that 'Easton Hope' may be an opportunity sadly missed for Orden Ogan to take 2010 and stamp their own identity all over it.


But that's not to say that fans of the genre of music that the mainstream media have affectionately labelled 'Battle Metal' will not lap up 'Easton Hope' by the drinking horn full when it is released on the 22nd of January. And anyone lucky enough to have snared themselves a ticket to this year's Wacken Festival can check out Orden Ogan live for themselves this Summer.


So polish your broad swords, gather together your warriors as you venture deep across fields and oceans in your mighty quest, with the sounds of Orden Ogan to heed you on your way, as you journey to your local Spar in icy blizzards on your quest for bread and milk.