German Metallers Orden Ogan’s sixth studio album is upon us, as the band continue their rise to the upper echelons of German Power Metal. Actually to dub Orden Ogan as merely Power Metal is limiting their style and doing them a bit of disservice. The term Power Metal is easily used to largely describe a powerful, fast-paced band with plenty of melody, but also alongside aggression, like with Evergrey, Nevermore, Kiuas and others. In this instance, Orden Ogan’s ability to create their own sound from the roots of Blind Guardian and Running Wild is just a launching pad for an album with vast appeal and a wide range of all things Heavy and Metal
There’s a visible journey if you follow Orden Ogan’s recorded career, from those tentative Power Metal beginnings with generous helpings of Running Wild, you can hear their confidence and ability growing as they gradually tackled a much more Blind Guardian type path with each album. So much so that their last outing, 2015’s “Ravenhead” was embracing the symphonic complexities of Blind Guardian so vehemently, that I feared the band might ironically back themselves into a creative corner. By luck or judgment, on “Gunmen” they seem to have realized what their own identity and trademark sound is, have totally embraced it and widened it…then totally run with it.
Track after track of unrelenting power drives the album forward, sublime time changes, intricate rhythms and plundering guitar and bass resonate through every song which in turn incorporates a fabulous crowning multi-layered chorus within the expertly delivered vocal lines. Right from the (almost) title track through to the suitably grandiosely titled epic closer ‘Finis Coronat Opus’, Orden Ogan are totally playing to their strengths…and they have plenty. The quirky slightly folk/Running Wild lead guitar lines have made a joyous return but now find themselves enhancing tracks of an even greater intensity and heaviness that just lifts the band’s sound even higher. On the subject of guitar, there are some really striking solos that utilize not only melody, but a few memorable tricks and acrobatics that are really enjoyable to hear as well as impressive.
But even with all this information, you can’t predict this band – the album still has it’s surprises (or it would’ve, if I wasn’t about to ruin one of them…). There’s a guest vocal from former Leaves’ Eyes singer Liv Kristine, and as soon as it started with it’s acoustic intro and Liv’s sweet, angelic voice dancing beautifully on top, it was obvious that it was ballad duet time. Until it explodes into a full-on uber-catchy Power Metal giant with a chorus that has been in my head since the first time I heard it! Don’t worry, there’s more surprises waiting to be discovered on this album that is surely a must-hear for any fan of the genre (whatever style they’re dubbed as). Ordan Ogan are at the top of their game, settling into their own sound perfectly and delivering what is surely one of the top Power Metal (+ all the other bits…) albums of the year.
(9/10 Andy Barker)