Orden Ogan: Gunmen, AFM Records 2017
Despite forming Orden Ogan as far back as 1996, it wasn’t until 2008 that Orden Ogan found their stride, releasing their debut album ‘Vale’. Following this rather late bloom, Orden Ogan have kept to a relatively reliable schedule, give or take a few years either side with the band still being led by enigmatic vocalist and all round multi-instrumentalist Seeb Levermann. Levermann has guided Orden Ogan through his creative needs, managing to keep a relatively stable line-up since 2011 and released their 5th studio album on the 7th July entitled ‘Gunmen’.
For those disillusioned with Blind Guardian’s output over the past 10 years will be happy to know that ‘Gunmen’ offers everything that you have been salivating for. ‘Gunmen’ itself focuses upon the concept of not just one gunman, but rather, it seems to regale us with multiple stories loosely intertwining and weaving around a Wild West setting with each story touching on the loneliness of the gunslinger, the burdens they must carry, running from the law and the repercussions of their actions.
The album itself rides into action with the first single released ‘Gunman’. ‘Gunman’ introduces the ambiguous lead character, a story of a man who dishes out retribution and salvation from the barrel of a gun. Beginning with a riff that could have easily fitted the pomp of an 80’s TV game show, ‘Gunman’ quickly evolves into a beast of its own with a driving rhythm of Iron Maiden and Helloween proportions, before leaving drummer Dirk Meyer-Berhorn all alone to hold it together as Seeb builds up and up to a chorus that is not only memorable, but will instantly have you singing along.
This feat of having you hooked and singing almost immediately is a trend which continues throughout the album and although it can be difficult to recall the actual track names, ‘Gunmen’ flows so perfectly that you will find yourself not only singing along, but enjoying the album thoroughly enough to not be grasping at the albums booklet constantly to be looking at where you are. Clocking in at just under an hour, ‘Gunmen’ is actually the perfect length for a would-be concept album, it gets the story down to a tee without meandering off on meaningless tangents, holding you easily in its thrall.
However, the fire begins to rage out of control on ‘Gunmen’ with ‘Vampire in Ghost Town’. ‘Vampire in Ghost Town’ has all the pace of one of the best songs to run to with a bounce that could match Iron Maiden’s ‘The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner’ and when coupled with the most memorable chorus on the album, it not only demands your attention, but requires you to shout: “Vampire!” with your fist in the air. ‘Vampire in Ghost Town’ is one of the best songs on ‘Gunmen’ and is certainly the showstopper as it makes the album.
Orden Ogan choose to follow ‘Vampire in Ghost Town’ with the haunting ‘Come With Me to the Other Side’. This track begins with the forlorn vocals of Liv Kristine, known for her work with Leaves’ Eyes, as Kristine delivers a beautiful vocal reminiscent of Candice Night before Orden Ogan come charging back with a chorus so hypnotic that you’ll be looking for the Kool-Aid as the words: ‘come with me to the other side, leave the pain of this world behind’ repeatedly chant.
‘Gunmen’ has some fantastic symphonic arrangements and they are credit to the work that Seeb and the rest of Orden Ogan have put into the album. Not only does this add to an album which is easily not just the best work of Orden Ogan, but ‘Gunmen’ has justified its place as one of the best albums released this year. 86/100
Adam McCann / MHF Magazine