I'll be the first to admit I initially 'missed out' on German Power Metal icons Orden Ogan. Founded in 1996 as Tanzende Aingewaide (German to English translation: Dancing Aingewaide), the group unleashed their full-length debut Vale (2008) after a series of well-received demos. Further solidifying what was a still-burgeoning reputation via the release of To The End (2012), The Book Of Ogan (2016) and, perhaps most notably, what would arguably prove to be their international breakthrough, Gunmen (2017), the group forged ahead with an over-the-top flare for the dramatic. Not surprisingly, once I became acquainted with the group's unique Folk and Prog Metal intricacies, I soon found myself wholeheartedly embracing the depths of their genre-defying catalog. Fortunately, with the release of the highly-anticipated jewel Final Days, their latest, and quite possibly greatest, auditory offering to date, they now appear truly destined for the global recognition they have undeniably earned.
On the stellar Final Days (2021), an expertly assembled ten song collection of Folk and Progressive-infused Power Metal, each track, beginning with the relentlessly pummeling--albeit hook-laden--lament “Heart Of The Android” and the arena ready 'fist-pumping' anthem “Inferno”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of all parties involved, myself most definitely included. Initially intended to be issued in September of 2020, the release date was ultimately postponed due to a litany of COVID-19-related difficulties. However, the delays quickly prove to have had little--if any--negative impact on the project as a whole as they pander to their target demographic by once again delivering the proverbial goods. Already well-known for their vivid portraits (the previously-mentioned Gunmen serves as an ideal example), the quintet has again augmented their modus operandi via a rumbling--and occasionally almost imperceptible--undercurrent of newly-intensified aggressions.
Continuing with the thought-provoking, Gus G (Dream Evil, ex-Firewind Ozzy Osbourne)-led “Interstellar” and the soaring, 'Power Ballad' “Alone In The Dark” (featuring Brothers Of Metal frontwoman Ylva Eriksson), the unnervingly airtight combination of vocalist Sebastian 'Seeb' Levermann, guitarists Nils Löffler and Patrick Sperling (replacing the inexplicably absent Tobias Kersting), bassist Steven Wussow (ex-Xandria) and drummer Dirk Meyer-Berhorn steamrolls ahead at what can only be described as a carefully-calculated pace. Arguably improving upon the previously-mentioned gem Gunmen (2017) without, believe it or not, imploding under the veritable weight of their own virtuosic talents, the group flexes their more-than-considerable creative muscles early and often . While still quite comfortably existing within the confines of their own tonalities, the group now appears intent on pushing the predefined boundaries, and distinguishing themselves, with a multi-layered attack.
Produced by Levermann (Asphyx, Brainstorm and Rhapsody Of Fire, among others) at Arnsberg, Germany-based Greenman Studio, other standouts, including the awkwardly-titled--yet highly-effective--“Absolution For Our Final Days” and the emotionally-overwrought, equally impressive closer “It Is Over”, deliver the proverbial goods while, believe it or not, avoiding many of the stereotypical tropes of yore. Although still displaying what many will undoubtedly consider to be clichés specific to the genre (some characteristics, it appears, are entirely unavoidable), their very presence does not detract from this otherwise masterful performance. In fact, hindsight will undoubtedly prove it to be a noteworthy, while not necessarily textbook, example of their prowess. Perhaps their most definitive release yet, the overall effect of the quasi-dystopian-flavored Final Days remains curiously digestible while maintaining significantly memorable levels of compositional substance that beg for indulgence.
With the group's already razor-sharp Power Metal variations now being elevated to previously-unparalleled heights, the majority--if not all--of the decidedly ear-pleasing wares contained herein only further highlight their arguably still-burgeoning position within the hierarchies of the sub-genre(s). Even if you somehow find yourself less than enthralled with the group's gleefully over-the-top delivery, one must, at the very least, sincerely admire their dedication to continuously honing their craft. An absolute must-have for every genuine and sincere Orden Ogan enthusiast (or, for that matter, anyone with a genuine and sincere interested in all things Power Metal and Power Metal-related), this is quite possibly as can get. Accordingly, if you've again found yourself in search of a refreshingly melodic and epic alternative to the painfully blasé din and clatter of 'mainstream Metal', then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane counterirritant for what ails us. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.
Final Days (2021)
The Book Of Ogan (2016)
To The End (2012)
Easton Hope (2010)
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