Orden Ogan – Final Days Review

For the last 6 months or so it seemed as if the AMG promo sump was almost entirely composed of one-man basement dwelling black metal outfits and black-adjacent endeavors of dubious merit. Perhaps that’s a reflection on the zeitgeist of our current pandemic-burdened existence, but it gets extremely tedious for those not big on the dark arts of low-fi aural destruction. Paradoxically there’s been a dire paucity of power metal just when we need that genre’s buoyant, cheese-fueled charm the most. Perhaps that explains why I found myself looking forward to Orden Ogan‘s seventh album more than I expected. Well, that and the fact the German act wisely dropped the wild west gunslinger schtick they tried to rock on 2017s Gunmen outing. Instead Final Days is all about futuristic gobbledygook like androids, malicious AI, and all sorts of death by tech Black Mirrors-esque outcomes. This is a far more friendly medium for Orden Ogan‘s Blind Guardian-lite style and it seems it inspired them as the writing is much better than last time. Why, the future is so bright, you’ll have to wear chunky VR goggles!

Things open bigly and brightly with “Heart of the Android” as beefy riffs collide with a cold, futuristic atmosphere. Seeb Levermann’s vocals are a welcome sound to these black metal harassed lobes, and the chorus is big, bold and super cheesy, contemplating the humanity of modern machines. It’s a catchy, fun song and Madam X is really, really tired of hearing me sing the aforementioned chorus in overly dramatical tones and would prefer this album fell into a quantum singularity. “Inferno” takes the hook machine even deeper into outer space, sounding like Nickelback playing early Blind Guardian material. The chorus of “Burn it down, we are the inferno” will stick in the vestigial lizard portion of your brain and it will… linger. “Let the Fire Rain” and “In the Dawn of the AI” are also highly addicting concoctions sure to please fans of upbeat, glossy Euro-power, with the band keeping things just heavy enough to make an extra deep impact.

Ylva Eriksson of Brothers of Metal appears on power ballad “Alone in the Dark” for a emotional duet with Levermann, and though I’m very particular with my ballad love, this one is a winner with Ylva really knocking it out of the park vocally. Things close out on an especially bleak note with end of the world saga “It is Over,” and the radio broadcasts trying to comfort Earth’s populace in its final moments are especially effective and touching in a way one wouldn’t expect from a power metal platter like this. While no cut is bad, not everything hits as hard as the highlighted selections. “Black Hole” is energetic and upbeat but lacks the big hooks heard elsewhere, and “Hollow” is the heaviest, most aggressive track but falls just shy of being super memorable. At just over 50 minutes, Final Days feels surprisingly short and punchy. Most of the songs are in the 4-5 minute range and do a good job of ducking out before growing tiresome. Things are fairly front-loaded however, with most of the best stuff hitting early, and complaints can and will be made about the very loud production and sterile mix, but the album works nonetheless.

With a new guitarist and bassist in tow, Orden Organ sound revitalized and full of piss, vinegar and lithium batteries, with material harkening back to their Ravenhead album, which is a good thing in my book. The writing feels more focused than what was heard on Gunmen and the hook factor is trending upward sharply. Seeb is in fine form, managing to dwell in a sweet spot between Rage‘s Peavy and Blind Guardian‘s Hansi Kursch, which is a great place to call home. He gives especially poignant performances on “Alone in the Dark” and “It is Over” but can still deliver the cheese sauce on sillier stuff like “Inferno.” Meanwhile, Niels Löffler and new axe Patrick Sperling lay down a plethora of slick riffs and stylized shredding, finding a good balance between heavy leads and lighter Euro-power sensibilities without ever letting things get too corny.

Final Days feels like a major bounce back from what I thought was a rather tepid prior outing, and this is exactly the kind of album I needed in the dumpster fire of early 2021. If you, like me, desire some brainless, upbeat fun, Orden Ogan has just the Euro-camp you need, now featuring heartsick robots and runaway computers! You know you want some of that, so log in, loud up, and get post-modern. Cheese is our destiny.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: AFM
Websites: ordenogan.de | facebook.com/ordenogan
Releases Worldwide: March 12th, 2021

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