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A candidate for best power metal album for 2012 - 90%

TrooperOfSteel, June 22nd, 2015

Germany’s Orden Ogan have enjoyed their swift success and climb up the power metal ladder ever since they released their brilliant second CD entitled ‘Vale’ back in 2008. Coming from out of the blue, this unknown band stood the melodic power metal genre on its head, and suddenly melodic power metal had been reborn. After the immediate success of ‘Vale’, Orden Ogan were poached by AFM Records and subsequently left the little known Yonah Records for greener grasses.

Orden Ogan’s much anticipated third release, entitled ‘Easton Hope’, arriving in 2010 was a great album, however it did not have the same initial excitement and breath of fresh air as ‘Vale’ did. I tend to compare Orden Ogan’s ‘Vale’ and ‘Easton Hope’ releases to that of power metal band Demons & Wizards (Hansi Kursch, Jon Schaffer) ‘s/t’ and ‘Touched by the Crimson King’. Those who are fans of that band would remember the awesomeness that came with that debut album, but the follow-up, despite it being a solid release failed to live up to the first disc’s quality, especially after the long wait between releases. So now, Orden Ogan have returned to deliver their fourth full-length CD, entitled ‘To the End’. The release date for the new disc has been pushed back twice, so the anticipation is high once again, so what are we in store for this time from this very talented band? Read on.

While still maintaining their core structures of soaring melodic power metal reminiscent of bands like Falconer and Kamelot, Orden Ogan has evolved nicely with this fourth release. Again they have stepped up the heaviness and aggression, more so than on ‘Easton Hope’, with vigorously charged and chunky guitar riffs, hooks and solos throughout. Orden Ogan’s proggy/folk metal atmospheric elements that made their music so refreshing back in 2008 are still ever present on the new disc, although going through the album, it appears that the amount of prog and folk elements has dropped away slightly, with the band leaning towards a heavier and modern melodic power metal style. The creative song-writing has remained consistent too, with the previous releases, while the emotion and passion that featured heavily in ‘Vale’ is also oozing from the new CD.

Orden Ogan fans who has the band’s debut album ‘Testimonium A.D.’, would notice when going through the tracklist for ‘To the End’ to find that a particular song has made a re-appearance, that song being “Angels War”. With so much difference and improvement from that debut CD to the new disc, especially with production and also experience, the lads have decided to re-record one of the better tracks from ‘Testimonium A.D.’, giving it a nice cut and polish and new life. The end result is a great song now even greater after been given the redo touch and ultimately one of the best tracks on the album.

The disc opens with a hearty intro which builds up epically into the opening bombastic title track “To the End”. A flurry of wailing melodic guitars riffs from Tobi and Sebastian Levermann, pounding double bass drumming from newcomer Dirk Meyer-Berhorn begin the speedy track. Feeling at home with Orden Ogan’s signature sound, including the well placed and atmospheric keyboards and Sebastian’s soothing, soaring and melodic vocals, “To the End” is a smoking hot catchy track which includes a blistering guitar solo that you’ll play over and over again until you’ve got your fill. Much like Orden Ogan’s previous opening songs (“To New Shores of Sadness” and “Nobody Leaves”), “To the End” is very much like those two tracks and easily on par in terms of kick ass quality as well.

The disc continues strongly with the next track, “The Things We Believe In”, which is also the first single from the release and a video was made for and can be seen on YouTube. After hearing a freezing cold blizzard, a warming acoustic guitar comes in before some bold and aggressive guitar riffs takes over. Sebastian’s vocals lead the way, mighty and strong, with choir singing in the catchy chorus. Orden Ogan’s typical folk elements shine through wonderfully in this mid-paced track, giving it an epic styled shade. “Land of the Dead” is another top-notch track, featuring some wicked groove filled guitar riffs that instantly make’s your head nod in improvement. With constant tempo changes and wonderful song-writing, “Land of the Dead” shows off Orden Ogan’s excellent folk metal side, but still maintaining their brute melodic metal aggression, particularly with the guitar riffs and thundering drumming.

The remainder of the album contains many more excellent and powerful tracks, including the epic and memorable “Till The Stars Cry Out” (one of Orden Ogan’s best songs ever, IMO), the upbeat, energetic and melodic “This Dying Paradise” (which reminds me of late ‘80s early ‘90s Iron Maiden), and the emotional, speedy and Rhapsody-inspired “Mystic Symphony”. Orden Ogan have always been the masters of beautiful and passionate ballads, and ‘To the End’ continues this trend with two wonderful and emotional ballads “Take This Light” (acoustic guitar, piano and Sebastian’s inspiring and melodic vocals) and “The Ice Kings” (a semi-ballad that includes drums and then electric guitars towards the end).

When weighing up the entire album, I am selfishly annoyed that there are only 11 tracks on the disc, because after hearing the release you are left wanting for more. Aside from that tiny little gripe, ‘To the End’ could have just pegged ‘Vale’ as Orden Ogan’s best CD to date, but of course this will come down to personal preference and musical tastes of the fans. One thing is for sure, the band has improved with every disc, as well as evolving naturally yet staying true to their roots. They have also matured very nicely as a band, while the song-writing has also been a massive highlight for fans with all of Orden Ogan’s albums and their songs are just so creative and not just your standard and generic sounding melodic power metal tracks that we’ve all heard time and time again.

Fans of the band will quickly obtain this release blindly as it is definitely one of their best to date, while newcomers to Orden Ogan will find this disc to be quite different and fresh to what they may have come across before. Lastly, fans of European melodic power metal will relish what Orden Ogan has on offer here with ‘To the End’, not to mention all their other CDs as well. A candidate for best power metal album for 2012, ‘To the End’ may have been late in its release, but hell, it is sure damn worth it!

Originally written for both www.themetalforge.com and www.metalcdratings.com (2012)