Orden Ogan
Gunmen

One of the coolest and lesser known (at least in the US) power metal acts I have discovered recently is Germany’s Orden Ogan. A long running band with 5 albums under their belt since 2004 (with 2015s Ravenhead and 2012s To the End being the ones that got me hooked), these guys add a little oomph to power metal’s usual fluff, with some nice beefy, borderline thrash riffs and guitars bolstering the keys, and stunning choruses and vocal work.

Comparisons to country mates Powerwolf are abound, with the same sense of big, rousing choruses and powerful riffs, but these guys are a little less cheesy and ‘churchy’. They also seem to stray away from usual power metal tropes; there is nary an elf or dragon to be seen here, as Gunmen is 10 Cowboy/Western yarns of love, death, vengeance, the afterlife, the supernatural, and well…. gunmen. The Western theme brings a nice, refreshing change to power metal’s usual themes, and the story is conveyed perfectly both thematically and musically.

The opening duo (and first two singles from the album) of “Gunman” and “Fields of Sorrow” is about as good as two opening tracks you will hear in 2017, with “Gunmen”being a perfect, rousing, opener with a super catchy, big, rousing  chorus. “Fields of Sorrow”  is a more somber but epic number with a chorus you will be singing at the top of your lungs in your car, maybe with a tear rolling down your cheek.

“Forlorn and Forsaken” has a tough act to follow, but does OK with a nice crunchy presence , thought lacking the catchy and emotional gravitas of the first two tracks. “A Vampire in Ghost Town”, is every bit as goofy as the title but a nice western take on the riffage keeps the song interesting.  Liv Kristine  (Leaves Eyes, Theatre of Tragedy, etc) then lulls you into a false sense of security to start “Come With Me to the Other Side”, as you think the albums first ballad has come, but it ends up being a big , rangy, uptempo thrashing number, even as she graces the songs midsection with a gorgeous vocal bridge.

“The Face of Silence” is one of the album’s other standouts, with a steady mid paced march and yet another killer chorus, showing frontman and founder Sebastian “Seeb” Levermann is an absolute, underrated master of penning catchy, powerful choruses.  More of them show as the album takes a more uplifting turn for “Ashen Rain”, galloping romp of “Down Here” and anthemic “One Last Chance” which has one of the album’s strongest riffs before the somber 9 minute closer “Finis Coronat Opus” wraps up the Gunman’s story with appropriate, lighter waving closure.

Gunmen is  strong, catchy, powerful album from start to finish, and where Ravenhead  and To the End had a couple of great songs each  (“Til the Stars Cry Out”, “The Things We Believe In”, “FEVER”, “Here at the End of the World), every track on Gunmen is a winner that demands you sing along. Just be careful at stop lights.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
August 25th, 2017

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