Orden Ogan – Ravenhead
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Orden Ogan, power metal’s most promising foursome from Germany, has released their fifth full-length album, Ravenhead. Each of their previous four records has received great reviews and are still frequently talked about to this day, and this release has already proved itself to be the same. Frequently compared to Blind Guardian, as the German metal scene is probably the most competitive today, I would argue that the comparison is no longer applicable. The band has grown into themselves so well over the past few years that they are setting themselves apart from that need entirely.
This is the first release that the band as a whole shared in the songwriting process though front man Seeb Levermann took the brunt of the work. It’s easy to hear a strong difference in the sheer heaviness and movement in the music, more-so than ever before. The album begins with a fantastic and eerie intro, and then explodes immediately into the title track, “Ravenhead”. Tied together by fantastic lead and rhythm guitar, this song has some killer melodies throughout and a huge chorus to top it off. The layered vocals and keyboard combination send chills down my spine every time, as this band is one of the best out there to make you truly feel the music, rather than just hear it.
“F.E.V.E.R.” was the band’s first single for the record, and they released an amazing music video along with it, directed by Rainer ‘Zipp’ Fränzen who also directed the band’s 2012 video for “The Things We Believe In” which was my first impression of the band and it blew me away. If you have seen the music video, you already have a strong sense of the artistry and passion behind this release. While the chorus is repeated quite a few times throughout the song, it is accompanied by phenomenal musicianship that hits harder than ever before. On the topic of heavy and hard-hitting tunes, “Here At The End Of The World” is one of the strongest on the record, with guest vocals from Chris Boltendahl (Grave Digger), and galloping drum and bass lines that send it over the edge.
Another guest appearance is Joacim Cans (Hammerfall) on “Sorrow is Your Tale”, which is likely my favorite track on the record. Joacim’s voice fits so well with the band, but the real shining moment in the song is the soaring chorus and vocal arrangements that take “catchy” to a new level. A huge, moving guitar solo ties in all of the music perfectly and brings the song to its last chorus creating a wonderful finale. “In Grief and Chains” is a small instrumental preparing the listener for the final track, “Too Soon” which is a gorgeous ballad highlighted by some seriously emotional lyrics and beautiful vocal work.
Truth be told, the only flaw in this release is the lack of a more storytelling-like atmosphere, as the main focus of most of the music lies in a repeating chorus. The verses as a whole are short and to the point, then the chorus is larger than life and repeats many times throughout the songs. With that being said, this release doesn’t feel repetitive or boring, and holds my attention as well as any previous Orden Ogan albums have done. As if I can stress it more significantly, this album is a stunning work of beauty. This album is full of larger-than-life choruses; heavy, intricate drum and bass work, and fantastic guitar performances worthy of naming this their best release yet. Orden Ogan has stepped up to the top of their game with Ravenhead and is absolutely setting the bar high for the German metal competition in 2015.