German power metal warriors, Orden Ogan, have released their 6th studio album, entitled Gunmen. Gunmen was released on the 7th of July via AFM Records.
Orden Ogan are a power metal band but one that utilises progressive, symphonic and folk elements to help them stand out from the crowd. They were formed in 1996 by Sebastian Grütling and Sebastian Levermann. Grütling departed in 2011 leaving Levermann, lead guitars and vocals, as the sole founding member in the band. Alongside him are Tobi on guitars, Niels Löffler on the bass and Dirk Meyer-Berhorn on the drums.
Gunmen is a Western themed album – as in Wild West. Cowboys, 6 shooters, spittoons and all that. That might seem a little odd. Power metal has long used fantastical elements in it’s releases. Dwarves, dragons, elves and magic are common concepts. Cowboys, not being a thing of fantasy, don’t initially make you feel that it will be a subject that will work harmoniously with power metal. On the other hand, we could get a Roland Deschain of Gilead (Steven King’s The Dark Tower) styled album and that would be cool.
Gunmen has 10 tracks on it and is just under an hour long – 57 minutes to be exact. I have already listened to, and enjoyed two of the singles released. They were Fields of Sorrow and Come with Me to the Other Side. You can read our thoughts on them by clicking each link. The third single, Gunman, which I listened to but didn’t get round to writing about is the album opener. It is a big operatic opener with a symphonic intro. A steady drum rhythm joins in before the guitar starts blazing out a quick riff and the drums pick up the rhythm to a steady canter.
The vocals are sung, Blind Guardian like, in the verse while the drums, bass and guitars play a really fast tune. A little prechorus sees the guitars drop out leaving a wicked drum beat and vocals before everything jumps back in for a big chorus. The chorus sounds great though the lyrics are a bit cheesy. A heavy instrumental with loads of bass leads into a blazing guitar solo which leads back into a symphonic section. Another verse and then a few chorus repeats close out the opener. It is quite a statement though – it sounds huge and, cheesy lyrics aside, is a great way to open up a record.
It is immediately followed by the excellent Fields of Sorrow and, after two tracks, you start thinking this is going to be amazing. Unfortunately it doesn’t hold all the way through. There are some truly exceptional pieces of music on here. The two at the beginning and track 5, which is the haunting and powerful 3rd single Come With Me to the Other Side. The Face of Silence is another fantastic song. It is a mid tempo anthem with a chorus that is amazingly catchy. A fist pumping joy of a song which also has a great rumbling instrumental section.
The album ends with a near 9 minute epic called Finis Coronat Opus which is also a good track. It has loads of interesting riffs and rhythms. Being a long song, it moves through phases starting with an acoustic melody, moving into faster and heavier riffing. There are symphonic sections, a big booming chorus and a gentle melodic instrumental in the middle that leads into a fantastically addictive verse. Forlorn and Forsaken is a good song too. It has a catchy riff and a great chorus. I love the solo on this one as well.
Vampire in Ghost Town has a stupid name but a great intro with a soaring guitar solo that leads into a chugging riff. Slower sung vocals in the verse lead into a chorus with cheesy lyrics but it sounds huge and is really catchy. There is another really good solo too. It isn’t as good a track as the some of the others but has moments.
The negatives, well they aren’t really negatives I guess. There isn’t really a bad song on the album there are just some songs that are not nearly as good as others. It is like they outdid themselves on the singles and couldn’t quite match that skill level and sound. It creates a bit of a gulf on the album. Moving from a good song to a brilliant one is fine. Moving back to an okay/good one after brilliance is a bit harder.
Songs like Ashen Rain and Down Here are okay, they just seem a little “run of the mill” in comparison to the rest of the album. Both songs are very slow and plodding and lack the big bombastic choruses Orden Ogan are so good at. One Last Chance is another track that I don’t dislike but I don’t love. It has a great intro but loses it’s way. The riff in particular becomes quite repetitive after a few minutes.
The problem with the album is that of the 6 tracks I really like, 5 of them are in the first half of the album. In fact, my three least liked tracks are all played in a row – track 7, 8 and 9. While the ending track pulls it back a bit, those three tracks in a row left me a bit disappointed. Like I said, not because they are bad. They aren’t. They just aren’t anywhere near as good as the rest.
Still, 6 great songs, 1 good and 3 okay songs is a great tally for an album. Orden Ogan are still masters of power metal and, for the most part, have compiled an album full of fist pumping verse, catchy choruses and flamboyant guitar playing. It is well worth checking out.
Why not head on over to the band’s website and pick up the album? They have some pretty cool packages on offer too. You can also get the album at the links below. Be sure to check out Orden Ogan’s website, Facebook or Twitter for more information on them and their music.
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Gunmen by Orden Ogan (AFM Records)
The Final Score - 7/10