Well bloody hell, time does march on. It has been a whole six years since Ogre last graced the world with ‘The Last Neanderthal’, that album and their prior two getting a re-release on Minotauro Records (see Ave Noctum passim). Well, it’s nearly a new decade, and the Maine three-piece have joined a new label, and come out a new album ‘Thrice As Strong’. With such a delay, and the on/off status of the band, there will naturally be some trepidation as to how they will sound.
Worry not, as Messrs Markintosh, Cunningham, and Broadbent have not been growing tired and rusty in their hiatus, but rather honing their considerable skills, ‘The Future’ hopefully announcing a new and fruitful era for the band as it heralds in their music with a slice of pomp and ceremony worthy of the heights of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, a wave of wailing guitars flowing into pounding beats and lyrics torn from the pages of science-fantasy literature. This sound is strengthened further in ‘Hive Mind’, a dystopian horror story that could easily have been penned by the late lamented Mark “The Shark” Shelton; indeed, Ogre share much of the same hard rock/proto-metal style of delivery that was a trademark of Manilla Road, and I can only imagine how great a show it could have been to see them touring with Ogre opening the bill.
‘Big Man’ follows with big riffs drawn from the golden era where hard rock was slowly morphing into Heavy Metal, and acts such as Budgie were beginning to define a new genre, whilst ‘Judgement Day’ adds to the mix a down tuned heaviness that will have doom fans frowning in dark delight, Sabbathian guitar work coming to the fore in the slower slog of the chorus and dark solo that would I’m sure have the man Iommi’s moustache twitching with delight. If that were not enough to tempt the non-ironic wearers of flares and dirty denims, the despairing crawl of ‘Blood of Winter’ lets the band firmly nail their flag of influences to the mast with a dragged out eight minutes plus of dark goodness, the pace barely rising in ‘King of the Wood’ until the surprisingly upbeat closing minutes where the band turn on, tune in, and drop out with a psychedelic jam. Ogre then close with the superlative ‘Cyber-Czar’, throwing together elements from all the proceeding tracks and their seventies and eighties influences in one slab of Sci-fi hard rock, redolent of the works Michael Moorcock with Hawkwind, albeit Ogre play it as a stripped back power trio without the keyboards and saxophones of those space rock gods.
Ogre have been together on and off for a good twenty years now, and to come back from such a long recording break with an album such as ‘Thrice As Strong’ is no mean feat, the title surely being a statement of intent. Sounding infused with fresh new energy, but laced throughout with timeless sensibilities that transcend any one era of rock, ‘Thrice As Strong’ deserves a place in the collection of any music lover who is willing to listen to bands that don’t pigeon hole themselves into a single genre. Enjoy.