The Order departs the old west for the final frontier.
There seems to be no boundary, no border, nor any event horizon which cannot be crossed by the accursed and immortal wayfarer that is Alister Vale. Ever since his late 2000s exodus from his homeland of Easton Hope into the great beyond, be it the frozen kingdoms of ice denoted in 2012’s “To The End”, the moorland monasteries of “Ravenhead”, or the six shooter wastelands of the Old West depicted in 2017’s “Gunmen”, there has been a growing crescendo in his story that arguably reached an apex with the latter aforementioned excursion. In like fashion, the tellers of his tales, the German power metal upstart turned superstar outfit Orden Ogan, have enjoyed greater notoriety with each passing book in their mascot’s expanding anthology, to the point where the late 2010s saw them just about every major metal festival across the globe. About the only uncertainty circling the ranks of this mighty order is where Vale’s travels would lead next, alongside the obvious question of how they’d match the riveting success of their previous studio outing.
The answer to these questions lies among the stars, as Orden Ogan’s sixth installment of the Vale saga sees the undying traveler making his way into the cosmos. Naturally 2021’s “Final Days” is not the first power metal opus to delve into the realm of science fiction, but the manner in which it does so stands apart from the pack and is very much an album after the same spirit of its predecessors. The same merger of massive choral hooks, pounding riff work and a subtle hint of the speed thrashing aggression that was pioneered with the sub-genre by Blind Guardian is on full display here, but now decked out with an array of keyboards and effects work courtesy of front man Seeb Levermann and guest instrumentalist Sepi Winkelnkemper to accent the computerized futurism of the lyrical content. A number of notable names in the metal world of late have also joined in on this endeavor, including Firewind leader and ex-Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Gus G and Brothers Of Metal singer Ylva Eriksson to further spice up what is already a colossal monument of sound.
A few notable lineup changes have coincided with this album’s production as long time lead guitarist Tobias Kersting has exited the fold and Seeb himself has opted to focus exclusively on vocals, leading to the acquisition of guitarist Patrick Sperling and bassist Steven Wussow as Niels Loffler has shifted to second guitarist. Surprisingly enough, these changes would have all but gone unnoticed given the seamless musical continuity that these songs share with Orden Ogan’s prior accomplishments, accredit to Seeb’s genius as a producer and studio engineer of course. One can’t help but be instantly enthralled by the earth-shaking grooves of infectious bangers such as “Heart Of The Android” and “Black Hole”, highlighting the band’s ability to balance a heavy bottom-ended approach to riffing with the soaring guitar and vocal melodies that give the style its epic character, to speak nothing for the flashy shred segments that are the solo sections. The ante is upped further with a stronger level of rhythmic nuance and atmosphere on otherwise similarly styled cruisers such as “Absolution For Our Final Days” and dense vocal extravaganza “Let The Fire Rain”.
As with prior installments of this band’s brand of auditory storytelling, the moments of real intrigue are when greater time is taken for the song to diverge into new territory or the formula is switched up a bit. Perhaps the most auspicious offering to break out of the 5-minute box, and also the one to turn the most heads as a promotional single is “In The Dawn Of The AI”, which brilliantly merges the high octane, quasi-thrashing character of this band’s faster handiwork with a more industrialized atmosphere, almost as if merging elements of The Matrix into their signature sound. Though of a more moderate length and more stylistically uniform in demeanor, the heavy rocking power of “Interstellar” gets a boost from an almost Dio-inspired set of transitional riffs and a more free-flowing and chaotic guitar solo provided by Gus G. The somber balladry and isolation of “Alone In The Dark” also makes good on grabbing the listener’s ear, driven by a more reserved and gradual buildup in drama and a haunting duet between Seeb and Ylva. But the one that truly steals the show and brings this album to a fever pitch is the frenzied speed and majesty of “Hollow”, arguably the most intense offering this band has offered up since their inception.
It’s often stipulated that a band’s best work is always their latest work, and in a sense, this holds true even when in hindsight one can look to past accomplishments and see a greater result. More than being a phenomenon associated with album promotion, there is a sense of continual evolution that every band endeavors to maintain with each new effort, and in that sense “Final Days” is a resounding success as it successfully brings this outfit’s sound into brand new territory. It retains the familiarity in sound that will make it easy for any fan of their back catalog to become instantly enamored with it, all the while throwing around some interesting novelties at the peripheral level to breathe a sense of freshness into what is a fairly stylized approach. In this author’s opinion, the gun-toting odes of their previous LP are a slight cut above the intergalactic ventures on display here, but this is by no means a slouch in what has been a highly career since 2008’s Vale, and every fan of Orden Ogan, nay, every self-respecting power metal fan out there needs to hear it.
Released by: AFM Records
Released Date: March 12th, 2021
Genre: Power Metal
- Sebastian “Seeb” Levermann / Keyboards, lead vocals
- Niels Löffler / Guitars
- Dirk Meyer-Berhorn / Drums
- Steven Wussow / Bass
- Patrick Sperling / Guitars
“Final Days” track listing:
- Heart of the Android
- In the Dawn of the AI
- Let the Fire Rain
- Interstellar (Feat. Gus G.)
- Alone in the Dark (Feat. Ylva Eriksson)
- Black Hole
- Absolution for Our Final Days
- It Is Over
Riding high off the massive success of their bombastic power metal sonic assault meets spaghetti western storytelling 2017 LP; a few lineup shifts have done little to daunt this mighty metallic order as they reach for the literal stars