Artist: Orden Ogan
Album Title: Final Days
Label: AFM Records
Date of Release: 12 March 2021
When I reviewed ‘Gunman’ back in 2017, it was my first exposure to the German metal band by the name of Orden Ogan, despite the fact that their name was something of an institution in certain quarters. However, I come to the follow up ‘Final Days’, the seventh album of a lengthening career, with a sense of real interest having been suitably impressed by the pleasing power metal sounds created on its predecessor.
Firstly, a small, almost insignificant gripe. I’m really not a fan of the artwork. To me, it is underwhelming, and doesn’t set a positive tone prior to setting the music loose on my ears. The art itself is very good, but I think it threatens to under sell the product contained within. For an album with such an apocalyptic sci-fi theme running through it, where the final song signals the end of mankind on Earth, I don’t think the cover does the album justice. If I was in a record shop (I wish) and was blind buying, I’d likely not consider ‘Final Days’. There, I’ve said it.
And now that I have got that off my chest, I am free to concentrate on the most important thing of all: the music. And that, as any fan of this band will know, is where Orden Ogan excel. But before I start to dissect the compositions themselves, there are a couple of other important matters to attend to. The line-up has gone through a bit of a change since ‘Gunman’. Nils Löffler has moved from bass to guitar duties following the departure of Tobias Kersting, whilst a second guitarist has been recruited in the form of Patrick Sperling. The bass duties are now handled by Steven Wussow, who joins the aforementioned, as well as long-standing vocalist Seeb Levermann and drummer Dirk Meyer-Berhorn.
Then there’s the production and I have to say that on that score, Orden Ogan have hit a home run. This album sounds enormous, powerful, and crystal clear. The drums in particular have a deliciously robust bottom-end thump and sharp snap, whilst the dual guitars are equally strong and properly heavy-sounding. Indeed, you can even hear the important part that the bass guitar plays within the compositions. Kudos therefore needs to go to Seeb Levermann himself, who handled the production in-house.
On to the songs themselves and I feel compelled, for many reasons, to start with the final song, entitled ‘It Is Over’. To begin with, the guitar tone used for the riffs is incredible; the heaviness and the authority with which they emanate from the speakers is irresistible. Then there’s the subject matter; the more cynical of us might declare that a song which features a final broadcast to the remaining population on Earth, seconds before a meteor impact might be a little cheesy and contrived. Normally, I might agree. But every time I listen to it, I get goosebumps. The final words ‘over and out’ are met with a momentary silence and then in comes the compelling chorus to usher the song to its climactic finale. What makes the song so powerful when it could have been awful, is that epic chorus which sounds grandiose and beautifully melodic at the same time. For me, it is the strongest chorus on an album of strong choruses, meaning that I have yet another early contender for my ‘song of the year’ top ten.
I mention an album of strong choruses, because that’s what ‘Final Days’ genuinely is. Returning to the start of the record, we’re hit with ‘Heart Of The Android’, a track with big, chunky riffs, strong rhythms, and a hook-laden chorus that will get stuck in your head from the very first listen. Then there’s the vocals of Seeb Levermann who, if I’m not mistaken, sounds a little like latter-day Anders Fridén of In Flames, with a slight gruff, gritty edge to some of his delivery. Otherwise, his rich, melodic tones are just what we’ve come to expect from the charismatic frontman, adding his personal touch a modern-sounding, ballsy opener.
‘In The Dawn Of The AI’ gallops at a faster pace, more firmly within power metal territory as a result. The chorus is another irresistibly catchy affair, whilst the verses carry with them a synth-accented atmosphere that is both darker, but also perversely bright and breezy. Talking of synths, the band go to town with a section packed full of electronic sound effects, including the classic dial-up internet noise, to emphasise the subject matter tackled within the song.
Elsewhere, ‘Inferno’ is another great song, full of strong melodies, particularly in the unashamedly catchy chorus. I get a distinct Amaranthe vibe seeping through on this song thanks to the overtly modern, pop-metal leanings and the range of different vocal styles, including ‘gang’ style vocals in the chorus. By contrast, ‘Let The Fire Rain’ is a slower and more expansive-sounding composition, complete with choral vocal effects for added theatrics and drama. But instead of the chorus, my favourite part is the Iron Maiden-esque section where you get a strong guitar-led melody along with crowd effects singing along to the melody in that classic ‘woah-oooh-oh’ manner that is a staple of a Maiden live show.
To cap off a scintillating release, ‘Interstellar’ features a lead guitar solo by Firewind guitarist Gus G., whilst the ubiquitous ballad arrives in the form of ‘Alone In The Dark’ which features vocals from Ylva Eriksson of Brothers Of Metal fame. Both are great tracks in their own right and welcome additions to ‘Final Days’.
As melodic power metal albums go, I must concede that Orden Ogan have done it again with the masterful ‘Final Days’. They impressed me out of nowhere with ‘Gunman’ a few years ago, but in 2021 they have impressed me once again, despite having higher expectations this time around. The German quintet rarely put a foot wrong at any point on this record, delivering track after track of memorable and highly enjoyable melodic heavy metal that’s fully deserving of the ‘metal’ tag within the descriptor. Miss out on this album at your peril.
The Score of Much Metal: 92%
Further reviews from 2021:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: