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Orden Ogan - "To The End" (CD)

Orden Ogan - "To The End" CD cover image

"To The End" track listing:

1. The Frozen Few (1:56)
2. To The End (5:52)
3. The Things We Believe In (5:05)
4. Land Of The Dead (4:42)
5. The Ice Kings (4:54)
6. 'Till The Stars Cry Out (6:16)
7. This World Of Ice (4:43)
8. Dying Paradise (6:07)
9. Mystic Symphony (4:16)
10. Angels War (7:20)
11. Take This Light (3:33)
12. Masks (Bonus Track) (4:22)
13. Battle Of Waterloo (Running Wild Cover) (Bonus Track) (7:00)

Reviewed by on December 4, 2012

"Orden Ogan may very well have saved German power metal from the brink of stagnation, showing there is indeed a progression of the sound that stays true to its roots, steers clear of stereotypes, gathers new fans to the cause, and spares no melody..."

I remember it vividly....1992. “Somewhere Far Beyond” was released by Blind Guardian and the modern era of power metal was born. What Blind Guardian had done was taken the Germanic formula and added symphonic elements to make a more “heightened” form of the art. From that point the group dazzled the world with “Imaginations From the Other Side” (1995) and “Nightfall in Middle Earth” (1998) (the greatest album of its time). In 2002, Blind Guardian went down a more progressive path, leaving a gaping hole in its wake. It was not long before a band called Orden Ogan emerged from Arnsberg in the North Rhine in 1996 to stake its claim in the power metal world, one that would find it refreshing the old German sound and making it appeal to the masses yet again.

After eight years and three self-released demos, Orden Ogan issued its first LP “Testimonium A.D.” with an aim to bring German power metal back to its glory. Sure, there were many others grasping for the mantle, but few that could pin down the greatness of mid-late 90's Blind Guardian. Orden Ogan made that mark with the sophomore release of “Vale” in 2008. The time was right and many members of the metal community clamored for the sound that harkened to those “forgotten tales.”

Orden Ogan, led by vocalist/guitarist Seeb Levermann, may be a testament to the Blind Guardian many miss, but there is a sound here that is just as distinguishable. “To the End” is the latest and follow up to the great “Easton Hope,” an album that put the flag deeper in the ground of metallic greatness. “To the End” has all the glory one would expect from Orden Ogan, but further maturation in song writing. With no surprise, I fell in love with the grandiose choruses of “Land of the Dead,” “The Things We Believe In,” and the speed of “Mystic Symphony.” However, as if a growing sign of my old age, it was the gorgeous ballads “The Ice Kings” and “Take This Light” and that giant mid-tempo opus “Angels War” with that perfectly placed split-second pause that plucked at my heart strings. Seeb’s vocals breathe wide and far to a new level, representing the best I have ever heard from him. These three tracks were the least like the rest and represent a nice separation and perfect segue forward for the band, which started on “Easton Hope.” Through it all, the band still maintain completely true to an established style, at its core pure melody.

Of all the tracks that took me by surprise, “This World of Ice” was the most interesting. Here the band showed a new take on the standard formula, especially with its bold burly riff that rips through like a chainsaw and the amazing drum work of Dirk Meyer-Berhorn. For an added treat, try to obtain the version with bonus tracks “Masks” and the cover of the classic Running Wild’s “The Battle of Waterloo.” The former is a one of the best tracks not intended for a regular release since Kreator saved “Wolfchild” for the recently issued “Civilization Collapse” EP. “The Battle of Waterloo” remains true to the original, even replicating Rolf’s guitar sound perfectly, while adding a folkish opening and a much more operatic chorus.

Orden Ogan may very well have saved German power metal from the brink of stagnation, showing there is indeed a progression of the sound that stays true to its roots, steers clear of stereotypes, gathers new fans to the cause, and spares no melody to the sacrifice table. With a relatively simple “twist of the myth,” Orden Ogan makes it enjoyable for the masses again, re-paving the way for other bands to follow suit. The re-invention of German power metal has been achieved, and I will follow it “To the End!”

Highs: A return to Germanic power metal glory.

Lows: If mid-90's Blind Guardian with a "twist in the myth" isn't your bag, steer clear.

Bottom line: Orden Ogan is the new standard in German power...and I'll follow them "to the end."

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)