Released: n/a, AFM
I missed the first two Orden Ogan albums (you can't hear it all!) but I remember hearing the hype of EASTON HOPE back in early 2010. I picked it up at Scrape Records in Vancouver, BC and spun it a couple if times on the long drive to Calgary and I was just blown away by how good it was. Their brilliant Persuader/Blind Guardian/Folk blend was very fresh and exciting to me and it seemed like a long wait until the new album, TO THE END was in my hands.
Still with AFM, Orden Ogan have gone with a bit of an ice/winter theme, from the lyrics and song titles to the cover art, it all matches nicely. Andreas Marshall provides the art for the third album in a row. There are still more line-up changes as the band completely swapped out the entire rhythm section adding Niels Loffler (Bass) and Dirk Meyer-Bethorn (Drums). Founder and vocalist Sebastian is the only original member left and the line-up changes have certainly impacted the bands sound as they have allegedly evolved from a more Folk oriented sound to a pure Power sound. However, I believe that Sebastian is the main composer and vocalist so the band has retained a strong identity with him at the helm.
TO THE END despite a slightly dull title, is another triumph for the band. Driven by Sebastian's dramatic vocal delivery and powerful voice Orden Ogan present another hour of glorious, dynamic Power Metal. The title track itself (preceding by a longish instrumental opener) is a tour-de-force featuring no less than six (!) guitar solos starting at about the 3:00 minute mark and each running about 15-20 seconds taking us to about 4:30. I haven't heard six guitar solos in a song since the glory days of Tipton and Downing circa RAM IT DOWN, although the new Theodore Tuff album (SOLILOQUY) does have a killer batch of solos in the song 'Heavenly Mana'.
The album goes from strength to strength with interesting compositions laced with speed and power. The band do a remake of the cut 'Mystic Symphony' from their now rare and valuable debut independent album. I can't compare because I have heard the original but it is a good song nonetheless. All the songs have a lots of shades, some tempo changes, some acoustic moments and lots of big sing along choruses with epic gang vocals, a hallmark of the bands sound. Orden Ogan never forget to deliver the Metal intensity.
It's been suggested that Orden Ogan are the true successors to Blind Guardians throne and while Sinbreed may disagree, the new new album TO THE END makes a very convincing argument. Although the album comes late in the year, I'm sure it will make a number of year-end lists.