Orden Ogan - Final Days review


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Band: Orden Ogan
Album: Final Days
Release date: March 2021

01. Heart Of The Android
02. In The Dawn Of The AI
03. Inferno
04. Let The Fire Rain
05. Interstellar
06. Alone In The Dark
07. Black Hole
08. Absolution For Our Final Days
09. Hollow
10. It Is Over

Just as with the postponement of Accept's Too Mean To Die, I find an amusing pinprick of irony in Orden Ogan's Final Days being delayed for eight months because the days were getting a little too "final." Thus the gap between Gunmen and Final Days is twice as long as the usual interstitial spread, and in that time arose a major shift in personnel: a new bassist and guitarist have signed on, as longtime bassist Neils Löffler rotates to guitar in place of frontman Sebastian "Seeb" Levermann, now content to handle vocals and keys alone. The departure of guitarist Tobi Kersting last year leaves Levermann the only member to have played on all of the band's studio albums up to this point.

Orden Ogan has long been a Levermann joint in terms of writing, performing, and recording, but the Seeb/Tobi guitar team held considerable importance to the band's sound, and after the Wild West-themed Gunmen, Final Days catapulting the band into the technological wasteland of the relatively near future leaves us potentially facing a very different Orden Ogan from the one we left in the 1880s four years ago. In fulfillment of these expectations, the band cultivates its new aesthetic direction for an appropriately shiny finish, manifested in vocal processing, the replacement of typical power metal keys with digital-sounding synths, and even some glitch effects here and there (plus I'm sure that "In The Dawn Of The AI" even uses a modem during the solo). The voice-tampering borders on the obtrusive sometimes, but it's not that widespread, all told, and nothing can really diminish the power of a strong Orden Ogan chorus - and those are lined up in formation on Final Days as should be hoped.

Despite the lineup shifts, Orden Ogan is sounding very tight, handling the variation on a now-well-established sound with precision and comfort. The lead guitar work is not as enchanting or sharp as on previous albums - likely a sign of the new team casting about to find their voices in this new context - but that brutal, chunky, and frankly too-frightening-for-power-metal tone sustains itself for the thick and heavy low end that helps make Orden Ogan a unique force. It must be said that in spite of a brute force atypical of its genre and a lyrical/thematic approach that is at least dramatic when not outright fraught with mortal tension, Orden Ogan has a very comforting sound; those chugging riffs and bellow-along choruses find soft landing in the choirs and keys that back them, and the ever-present pinch of nostalgia in Levermann's distinctly emotional voice gives great dimension to even the more mundane compositions. Levermann himself has become more adept at achieving the expansion of this wall of sound, as each successive album gains another decibel, another layer of instrumentation, and another ton of impact.

Regarding the extent to which the band optimizes its technopocalyptic garnish, Final Days might be front-loaded - the sci-fi affectations largely fade away by the second half - but in terms of the memorability of the songwriting, this album is slightly more consistent than the last couple. Even without something that immediately blows my head off the way that "Come With Me To The Other Side" or "The Things We Believe In" did, the raft of singles is potent, and the overabundance of elaborately orchestrated hooks is just routine for Orden Ogan by now, so Final Days is an unqualified success where replay value is concerned. Moreover, Final Days sees the band inching slightly closer to perfection in packaging. My favorite Orden Ogan album is To The End, but the band's production was not quite as streamlined or enveloping at that stage, and thus the album feels slightly disjointed in places; Ravenhead, conversely, was a little too easily digestible sometimes, so the longer track lengths and more expansive sound of Gunmen made that album the band's most immersive experience even where the songwriting faltered. Final Days takes after Gunmen in this respect, offering significant sonic and emotional continuity throughout its run time.

It will likely take some more quality time with Final Days before the best tracks begin to settle into the pantheon of my favorite Orden Ogan cuts, but I can already tell that this will remain on as regular rotation as any of the previous albums. It's good to hear my favorite depressive suicidal power metal band back in the saddle cockpit, even if they're coming from a different end of the time-space continuum this time around.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 8


Written on 03.03.2021 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments: 3   Visited by: 115 users
03.03.2021 - 18:23
I think Orden Ogan is one of the better power metal bands, partly because I keep misreading their band name as "Orden Organ", which makes them sound like a power electronics band. That said, I refuse to listen to something with that cover art.
Serenity is no longer wishing you had a different past.

2021 goodies
03.03.2021 - 21:36

This far, I've liked the 4 singles, specially the first 2... sort of a power metal version of Fear Factory
So I'm really looking forward to listening the whole album.
06.03.2021 - 13:36

Still need to check them out, have them on my "to check" list for years...if not now, then never...

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