German power metallers Orden Ogan have covered a lot of musical ground over the course of their previous six full-length albums, from the folkish prog of 2004 debut Testimonium A.D. to the cranked up metal of last offering, 2017’s Gunmen. 2021’s seemingly long-delayed new effort, Final Days, sees the band refining the power/prog metal approach they’ve been delivering over the past few albums, expanding the band’s lyrical horizons if not quite stretching them to the same extent musically.
You get the sense that the band’s mastermind, Seeb Levermann, is ticking off a few ‘career bucket list’ objectives here as he unfurls his tale of the last days of an Earth doomed to be terminated by asteroid strike; weighty lyrical matter is rolled out – very well, it has to be said, considering English isn’t Levermann’s first language; if every writer has a novel in them, then every song writer has a concept album, surely, and as such this album is the crowning glory of Levermann’s career to date; whether unconcerned bystanders are convinced remains to be seen, but it’s fairly safe to say that committed fans of the band are going to love every last second of Final Days.
I have to say that till now I’ve not really considered myself to be a part of that group, but there are certainly enough moments on this album to get the juices well and truly flowing; Opening brace Heart of the Android and In The Dawn of the AI get things moving in spritely stuff, the first real highlight comes with Inferno, already released as a single earlier this year. A stomping Euro metal anthem, it’s given a nice modern edge by Levermann’s honking synths – without going over the top into trance metal territory, thankfully – and the obligatory key change towards the end of the song is the first bona fide goosebump moment of the album.
Let The Fire Rain melds meaty riffs to some nice drumming from Dirk Meyer-Berhorn, and the chorus brings to mind Dynazty, which obviously isn’t a bad thing; Interstellar features a blazing cameo from Gus G, whilst it’s balladic companion piece Alone in The Dark features vocal assistance from Ylva Eriksson, last heard in Brothers In Metal and here sounding for all the world like a young Tarja Turunen in her pomp. Strange to hear, but nonetheless very beguiling.
Black Hole, Absolution For Our Final Days and Hollow form a prog-power triumvirate of some substance towards the album’s end, with guitarists Patrick Sperling and Niels Loffler shouldering the burden of powering the album home; both acquit themselves well, aided by a punchy Levermann production that gives everything room to breathe but doesn’t flinch in pushing the inherent heaviness of the tracks to the fore. Final track It’s Over, clearly the album’s set-piece epic, rounds the tale off in dramatic, some might say quasi-operatic fashion, as massed voices mimic the Earth’s final radio transmissions before a swelling of human vocals give voice to feelings of hope as the, you guessed it, rag-tag band of human survivors take flight from the carnage to start all over again. On the next album, maybe?
Awful cover aside, there’s really nothing to dislike about this album. Orden Ogan may be the sort of name that people have been familiar with in the past without feeling the need to explore the band’s work – I’ve a feeling that situation will change after people hear this album…
Final Days releases on March 12th.