Across the musical fields of dawn stride a band of substance, with a steely determination in their eyes, carrying a sack full of magnificent songs that will make your head turn and your heart swell. Orden Ogan is that group. A German power metal band with progressive and folk metal elements, they have completely blown away all my preconceptions and this Gunmen album is another excellent release in 2017.
The band was formed in 1996 by Sebastian Grütling (drums) and Sebastian (Seeb) Levermann (lead vocals and guitar). Signed by the shrewd AFM Records, this album is their fifth long player and it absolutely scorches and moves in equal measure.
I am a huge fan of bands like Blind Guardian, Evergrey, and Edguy, who can be seen as contemporaries of Orden Ogan (which means “The Order of Fear“, “Orden” being the German word for Order, and “Ogan” being the Old Celtic word for Fear) and this band are as melodic as can be whilst sacrificing nothing in power.
For this Western-themed album, the songs are structured well, with buzzsaw guitars meshing with tasteful keyboards and Seeb’s voice brings to mind a richer version of Andrew Eldritch from the Sisters Of Mercy. The singing often multi-layers on songs such as “Vampire In Ghost Town”, which increases the power.
Where the band also score highly is when bringing in former Leaves’ Eyes/Theatre Of Tragedy vocalist Liv Kristine, who is featured on the track “Come With Me To The Other Side”. This song sounds like a metal version of Irish folk band Clannad and is amazing.
Interestingly, the drums for the album were recorded at an amusement park in Germany in a Wild West saloon. Seeb elaborates, “we wanted to have this huge Eighties snare ambiance that you can only get from big rooms. When the Wild West concept took form, we learned about the Saloon (in Fort Fun), did some test recordings there and were totally blown away.” The drums do sound good, but if I did have one tiny criticism, they needed to be slightly higher in the mix.
The whole album is a highlight, but I especially like “The Face Of Silence”, “Gunman” and “Fields Of Sorrow”. The last song in that list is a special tune, with grinding guitars and even shows some elements of Tom Morello with a beeping type solo.
I have listened to this album many many times and it keeps hooking me with its beautiful melodies and steel. It is a triumph of European metal and will certainly feature in my Top Ten of 2017. In 2016, the guys in Manimal toured with Orden Ogan and that would now be a tour that I would love to see!
Great time to be alive, as long as you avoid the Gunmen.