With each subsequent album, Germany’s Orden Ogan is becoming a bigger deal. After the brilliant “Ravenhead”, it seemed the band was poised to explode in popularity even further. “Gunmen” is the follow-up, and the album definitely shows the band settling even further into their comfortable sound. While it might be a step down from “Ravenhead”, Orden Ogan's personality as a band is even clearer than before. “Gunmen” has all of the hallmarks of the band’s sound: huge epic choruses that have layers upon layers of backing vocals, mind-boggling shredding solos, surprisingly heavy riffs, and the occasional folky melody. The focal point of “Gunmen” is definitely the choruses. Each song offers a pleasing, instantly memorable melody that can’t be sung live with any less than a crowd of thousands. Often times, while the song itself is fast, the chorus may slow down to create an even more epic feel. This is particularly evident in the title track, but is not the only instance of this tactic. It allows for thunderous, speedy double bass with huge choirs soaring from above.
The first 5 tracks show a band possessed to create the most earth-shattering record possible. Each of these songs can stand up against anything in the band’s catalogue. The most compelling of these tracks are “Forlorn and Forsaken” and “Come With Me To The Other Side”. The former has a bouncy chorus with perfectly constructed vocal lines by frontman Seeb Levermann. This is one of the few times where the band doesn’t go for epicness in the chorus, but instead opts for sheer fun. It’s one of those tracks that only a band from the lighter side of metal could pull off, but Orden Ogan is successful. The other highlight features Liv Kristine (Leaves’ Eyes), who does a serviceable job when her number is called. Truthfully, Seeb can sing this track every bit as well, and once again, it is the chorus that proves this.
“Gunmen” is not without its faults. Much like nearly every Orden Ogan record before it (excepting “Ravenhead”), the album slows down too quickly. After the 5th song, the remaining tracks fail to impress. They certainly aren’t bad, but this band knows when they strike gold, and unfortunately, they didn’t do that on part II of this record. While not all of these songs are as lengthy as most of the band’s tracks, Orden Ogan would benefit from getting some of these songs down by a minute or two each. Most of them crack 6 minutes, and even when the band is on fire, one can’t help but feel things would be even more impactful if they left the listener wanting more.
For a band in the prime of their career, Orden Ogan has just put out a worthy release. It may not be their best work, but it has many songs deserving to be played live for years to come. The band is beginning to move towards Sabaton/Powerwolf status in the sense that they have the ability to pump out album after album that remain fairly similar, but that approach isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For now, it’s best to just turn “Gunmen” up loud and sing along with every chorus!
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"Forlorn and Forsaken"
"Come With Me To The Other Side"
4.4/5 or 88%.
Written by Scott