German Power Metal has a history, a tradition. If you are going to step up and be the future of German Power Metal then you have to make damn sure you have it’s past covered. You can’t cover it all – that would probably sound ridiculous – Helloween, Running Wild, Blind Guardian, Grave Digger, Gamma Ray, Primal Fear, Scanner (No? Really? Just me then…)…the list goes on, but Orden Ogan have taken their favourite elements from that past (mainly expertly blending Running Wild with classic 90’s era Blind Guardian + a few others), dragged it into the 21st century and made it their own.
From the artwork to the grandiose intro, it’s unmistakable that what we have is some proper Power Metal on our hands here. Orden Ogan have been steadily building both in experience and song-writing with every release (2012’s “To The End” being the best to that point of their three album journey) and they have gone and pushed it even further with “Ravenhead”. The production smacks you in the face immediately, everything pushed to the limit, yet every element shining through, enabling the songs to spread their wings in every direction. The main step forward Orden Ogan have made this time is probably to claim their own sound. There is plenty of familiarity about their songs in style, but as soon as the title track kicked in I felt it couldn’t be anyone other than Orden Ogan. And in 2015, that is a big compliment!
If pushed for a major comparison, it does feel like this time around, and as the band have grown in confidence, they have moved away from Running Wild and grown towards Blind Guardian. For instance, ‘A Reason To Give’ could be straight off “Imaginations From The Other Side” in it’s arrangement, presentation and vocal harmonies…but the thing is…it’s utterly Orden Ogan! Vocally, musically…everything! It’s a feeling they mange to create throughout “Ravenhead” – a sense of nodding towards the past but forging forward. There is one teensy-weensy criticism/warning I would like to voice at this point if I may though – there is such a thing as being Over-Produced! Blind Guardian’s later releases suffer for it – there is so much going on musically and vocally that the production tends to level things out a little and make individual tracks stand out. It’s in evidence a little on “Ravenhead”, but not in it’s most exaggerated form…yet.
And if that’s the biggest criticism I can find then what a great album this is – Modern German Power Metal at it’s finest – musically powerful and dynamic – vocally melodic and memorable. Varied and imaginative – familiar, yet forward-looking. Memorable riffs in abundance, choruses on demand. Then I have to acknowledge the song arrangements – well crafted, expertly delivered, and with all those little instrumental nuances too – excellent. This is such a professional and polished release by a band thoroughly at ease with themselves and their place in the Metal fraternity. Orden Ogan are making sure German Power Metal has a future and is in damn good hands!
(8.5/10 Andy Barker)