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sabato 28 marzo 2015

Orden Ogan - Ravenhead

#FOR FANS OF: Heavy/Power, Grave Digger, Running Wild
Along with the likes of Sabaton, Mystic Prophecy, Blind Guardian, Firewind et al. German powerhouses Orden Ogan have been leading the march of European power metal acts who shun the uber-melodic methods of more light-hearted bands like Freedom Call or Power Quest. Instead, they favour a more direct kick-to-the-throat barrage of heavy riffage within their huge timbre. Orden Ogan have been gradually darkening and beefing up their sound throughout their first 4 albums (previous effort 'To The End' being an apparent peak), but the Teutonic quartet may have hit a creative pinnacle with the epic 'Ravenhead'. I may have fibbed slightly up there; Orden Ogan don't really 'shun' melodic methods. In fact, the melodies woven throughout 'Ravenhead' are some of the finest the genre has ever produced. Each chorus will implant itself in your head after only one listen, and in some cases, chill your spine with the sheer beauty of the intervals between each note (the chorus of "The Lake" being particularly noteworthy). However, they differ from the typical euro-power Helloween clones by employing their arsenal of hefty, grinding riffs which are, at some points, heavier than cannonfire. The middle section of "F.E.V.E.R." and the first twenty seconds of previously-mentioned "The Lake" are enough to snap your neck. The key essence that makes this album so addictive, is the epic male choir which is never underused or ignored. This has been an essential characteristic of Orden Ogan since their very first album, and it has only gotten more impressive and majestic. It turns every chorus into an absolute highlight, as opposed to a repetitive refrain. The production contributes to this element, bringing the choirs to the forefront of the mix, whilst backing it up with a rumbling and colossal bass/drum combination. This album revels in a dark mood and depressing atmosphere, despite the triumphant tone of the choruses. This could be due to the lyrics, the grim but brilliant artwork, or maybe the ever-improving broody vocals of Seeb. But certainly, the closing track "Too Soon" is sure to wash over you with a beautiful sense of melancholy. I think it's important to immerse yourself in the bleak atmosphere 'Ravenhead' emanates, using the powerful melodies and heroic choruses as lamps in the darkness. The only moderately minor qualm about this new release, is that they didn't quite make enough of their name's sake. The intro, as it is named after the band itself, should have been huge - though the theme it expresses is repeated in the following title-track, which is a lovely touch. There's no such thing as a less-than-brilliant Orden Ogan album. "Easton Hope" buffed up the heaviness, "To The End" coated their sound in ice, now 'Ravenhead' brings it to a magnificent peak. The twin guitar attacks are mesmerising, the riffs are hard-hitting, the choirs are massive and "The Lake" is power metal song of the month! Germany does it again. "In the light of a midnight sky, I have found one good reason to die. Take me down to the quiet place, In the lake, where she sleeps in grace..." (Larry Best)

(AFM Records - 2015)
Score: 90