|Orden Ogan - ‘To The End’ (AFM Records)|
|Written by Mark Ashby|
|Thursday, 03 January 2013 03:30|
Orden Ogan founder and frontman Seeb Levermann claims that his German quartet are not a ‘power metal’ band, despite using that exact descriptive on their Facebook page. Now, far be it for me to contradict the guitarist/vocalist (after all, shouldn’t he know what type of music he plays?) and further still to pigeonhole any band into any category or sub-genre into which they don’t want to fit – but, OO certainly tick all the power metal boxes – huge melodies, sweeping harmonies, soaring guitar solos. And, ‘To The End’ is a concept album to boot!
The ‘traditional’ power metal intro, in this case ‘The Frozen Few’, does indeed set the band slightly apart from counterparts such as Rhapsody and Freedom Call (with whom they recently toured, ironically enough), by basing itself on a slowly building guitar riff and Maiden-esque rolling bass line, rather than keyboard-induced faux orchestration.
The title track is a rollicking romp, built on a tight intertwining riff from Levermann and fellow axeman Tobi, while the thematically matching ‘The Things We Believe In’ (also the first single to be taken from the album) veers more into folk metal territory, with its fist-pumpingly anthemic chorus.
By and large, this is pure power metal, no matter Levermann’s assertions. OK, the keyboard touches are kept to the bare minimum, gone are the massive choral arrangements which characterised – and, for some, detracted from – their first two albums, to be replaced by more harmonic interactions between the various band members, both vocally and musically, and the lyrical themes are much darker than your average power metal tune.
The album also makes much more use of folk elements, such as the aforementioned ‘The Things…’ and the more genteel ‘The Ice Kings’, with its Steeleye Span style chant-a-long chorus, while there are also moments which verge on nu-metal, such as RATM/SOAD evoking backdrop in the first section of ‘This World Of Ice’, which probably could have benefited from more of this element, as it evolves into one of the more disappointing, verging on banal, numbers. Fortunately, ‘Dying Paradise’ redeems matters in truly dramatic style, while the magnificent ‘Angel’s War’ builds from an acoustic intro through a crunching lead riff into a sweeping Helloween style vocal-led melody, while ‘Take This Light’ ends the album on a forlorn, sombre note that summarises the darker aspect of the album as a whole.
The performances throughout – and especially those of the two guitarists – are excellent, with the rhythm section sticking to the job of driving the songs along with aplomb and energy, while the metaphorical content of the lyrics is worth exploring, as this takes much of the material to a deeper, more personal level than your run-of-the-mill power metal toon.
Orden Ogan may not like that tag, but it fits them perfectly, and this is one of the better examples of the genre around at the moment.