ALBUM REVIEW : ORDEN OGAN — Gunmen
Two and a half years had eclipsed by us since Orden Ogan - the band I get excited about so often my phone and tablet autocorrect any mention of their name with ORDEN OGAN - had released an album of original work. Ravenhead gave the world the anthemic “F.E.V.E.R” and was a supremely good album, but by releasing The Book of Ogan the year after, Orden Ogan closed the first volume of their career. Now, the German power metal band is back with Gunmen, its fifth full length album, and the new tome of the Ogan saga is as epic as they come. Resolved to make their new instalment their best album yet, Orden Ogan has taken no half-measures, going all out to set scenes and sounds perfectly. Set in a fantastic Wild West world, Gunmen immerses the listeners in its universe with its 10 tales of revenge, sorrow, justice, and redemption. The lyrics are rich and detailed without compromising the winning Orden Ogan formula of big choruses optimized for maximum live participation from the audience, while the music accompanying the compelling songs are full of Orden Ogan’s usual brilliance. Gunmen is a masterclass in balance: balancing the simple yet mellifluous vocals of Sebastian Levermann with the powerful choirs, the savage riffs with the ripping solos, the storytelling with the singable and sensical lyrics. By finding the perfect blend of all those elements, Orden Ogan ensured the continuation of one generally-acknowledged truth about the band; every album they release is mightier than the previous. Starting with the sort-of title track of the album, the German musicians came out guns blazing with riffs and arrangements as bold as a midday dual for “Gunman.” The epic story of vengeance and perfect vigilante anthem features brazen orchestrations that set the tone for the entire album, leaving no doubt that the listener is in for an unrepentant and relentless hour.
Orden Ogan - "Gunman"
Staying true to tales from the far west, Gunmen is not all good guys and uplifting hymns. The German musicians created a song for just about anyone. If you’re one to give villains the benefit of the doubt, “One Last Chance” is probably the track that will resonate most with you. For the Anne Rice fanatics, “Vampire in Ghost Town” might be the song to thrill you, and should you feel like getting your heart ripped out of you chest, the tale of a man burying his beloved in “Fields of Sorrow” could just be the thing to do it.
Though the album is a typical - albeit better - Orden Ogan album, the German quartet made the effort to change their own game. By enlisting some external help from world-class musicians such as Joshua Messick and Liv Kristine, the band ensured that the album would still pack a few surprises without completely rewriting their playbook.
On “Come with Me to the Other Side,” Liv Kristine’s usually powerful voice is toned down, fragile, and siren-like, luring listeners to their melodic death as her opening part sounds more like a lullaby than an Orden Ogan song. Of course, the ferocious drumming display by Dirk Meye-Berhorn that immediately follows the beginning of Kristine’s performance sets the listeners straight, but for a solid minute there is a hint of a ballad that is hauntingly beautiful.
As the end crowns the work, it’s only natural that Orden Ogan would leave the best for last. With the help of Messick - one of the best hammered dulcimer players in the world - playing his famed instrument on “Finis Coronat Opus,” Orden Ogan brings an unexpected yet delightful folksy element to the forefront of the song before launching into 8 minutes of ruthless guitars and shiver-inducing choirs. The result is not unsettling, but it is unexpected and frankly bewitching.
For a band that has been around for so long and hasn’t changed much about their sound since the very beginning, the fact that Orden Ogan still manages to surprise, to elate, and to thrill with their music by crafting stunning pieces in the studio that are also killer live songs is a true testament to the four men’s musical abilities and dedication to the craft. Gunmen is no exception, crowning an already phenomenal discography.
ORDEN OGAN Gunmen
Release date: July 7, 2017