Released By: AFM Records
Release Date: March 12th, 2021
Genre: Power Metal/Melodic Metal
Sebastian “Seeb” Levermann – Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Tobias Kersting – Guitars
Patrick Sperling – Guitars
Niels Löffler – Bass
Dirk Meyer-Berhorn – Drums
1. Heart of the Android
2. In the Dawn of the AI
4. Let the Fire Rain
6. Alone in the Dark
7. Black Hole
8. Absolution For Our Final Days
10. It Is Over
The ongoing world situation has effected many things in many different ways, including music, both as far as live performances essentially being impossible, and even many releases having to be delayed, or being directly changed due to everything that’s happening. One such release is Final Days, the sixth full length release from German power metal band Orden Ogan. The album was initially slated for a 2020 release, but was delayed multiple times, before finally being finished and is now set for a mid March release. I’ve had a fairly positive history with the band, enjoying each of their previous albums to one degree or another, though I felt they may have peaked with To the End, an album that hit me hard from start to finish, and stands as by far my favorite album of theirs to this day. Their previous album Gunmen in particular felt like a step down, and so I was actually a bit nervous about Final Days, coming into it with lower expectations than usual. Thankfully, though, the band has managed to fully win me over once again, unleashing one of their best albums to date, as well as one that surprised me in a few ways.
Orden Ogan have always been a melodic power metal band, and that still remains true, though their sound has evolved rather subtly, yet quite noticeably over the years. They’ve always had a heavy reliance on big choruses and huge vocal melodies, with vocalist and band leader Sebestian “Seeb|” Levermann always being the driving force behind their music. However, the band has gone through different phases, having strong folk elements on their debut Vale, while going fully symphonic and cinematic on the follow-up Easton Hope. Starting with To the End, the band focused on more of a straight-forward, super catchy power metal sound, still leaving in traces of folk and symphonic elements, but largely dialing them back for a more simplified sound. Likewise, while previous releases often featured some very heavy, intense guitar work, Gunmen felt like it really reined in those elements, making for a slower paced, more melodic album overall. This has only continued further on Final Days, by far the band’s lightest, most melodic album to date.
Power metal fans expecting a ton of fast paced tracks are sure to be disappointed, at least on a first listen, as there really isn’t a lot of that to be found here. Instead, while there’s still strong power metal elements to be found throughout, especially in the choruses, and certain instrumental sections, it’ feels like more of a modern melodic metal album overall, being heavily reliant on synths, melodies and vocals to carry the load. I mentioned in my review of Gunmen that I was liking the guitar work less and less with each album. Well, that trend hasn’t necessarily continued with Final Days, but the guitars are definitely less prominent, and less forceful than ever before on this album. There’s still some great riffs to be found from time to time, as well as some nice solos, but a lot of the time, guitars are relegated to more of a secondary role, with lots of great rhythm guitar work to be found throughout the album, though not as many memorable leads as usual. Keyboards have always been a part of the band’s music, though here they feel more important than ever before, helping to enhance the overall futuristic tone the music is going for, so listeners can expect a ton of strange synth effects, as well as lots of nice backdrops, and overall craziness from the keys that has always been there in the past, though certainly not to this degree.
Despite this change in direction, the songs still hit as hard as anything the band has done in the past, with some of their best work to date, especially in the back half of the album. Another very important aspect I was surprised by is the lyrics. The band has always had some kind of over-arching concept to their albums (To the End dealt with a winter wasteland, Gunmen was about the Wild West, Ravenhead was about a swampland, etc.) so it’s no surprise to see this album once again feature an overall concept. This time around, the theme is space, but in particular, the lyrics are focused on a future where Mankind reaches its demise. I find the lyrics hit harder than usual, with a few tracks towards the end especially being more powerful and emotional than anything else the band has ever written, so I was quite caught off guard by that. Interestingly, while the album has nothing to do with COVID-19 or anything else that’s been happening lately in the real world, there are many isolated lines that really strike me as powerful and oddly fitting for these current times (particularly on “Absolution For Our Final Days”), so I actually think this is a case where the timing of the release greatly enhanced my enjoyment of it, even if that’s likely an unintentional effect. As expected, performances are strong across the board, with Seeb in particular shining as always, with his ever deep, powerful, yet smooth and melodic vocals, while all instruments sound great, and the production work (also handled by Seeb) is as perfect and crystal clear as always.
As wonderful as the performances, production and concept are, though, the songs still need to be good, and thankfully they are! Opening track and second single “Heart of the Android” is a pretty good indication of what to expect, being fairly laid back, very melodic, and having an absolutely fantastic, super catchy chorus. The guitar work is fairly subdued throughout, (aside from a nice solo in the second half) while the keys standout a bit more, and of course the vocals really carry the song, especially during the chorus. It’s a wonderful track, and gets the album off to a strong start. Next is lead single “In the Dawn of the AI”, a faster paced, harder hitting track, which feels like a slightly less intense, more keyboard driven version of To The End’s title track. It has a very classic Orden Ogan sounding main riff, enhanced by some light synth effects in the background, and the verses charge full speed ahead, with excellent, crunchy guitar work and powerful vocals, before giving way to another upbeat, very epic and catchy chorus. It’s a fantastic song, overall, though the standout section is in the second half, with an instrumental section led by some very cheesy yet awesome futuristic sounding synths, that really drive home the fact that while this is still an Orden Ogan album, it has a slightly different tone and feel to it, compared to normal.
One of the more controversial tracks is third single (and also third track on the album) “Inferno”, a much lighter, somewhat pop infused track. It has very little traces of heavy guitar work, aside from the solo section, instead being very light and very keyboard driven, and it has a chorus I could easily imagine hearing on the radio. Verses are soft, slow and serve as a nice buildup, while the chorus is rather mainstream sounding, yet the band pulls it off perfectly, so instead of coming off as annoying, it’s actually one of the most addictive choruses on the album. It’s a very fun track, overall, and while power metal fans or metal purists may not like it much, I think it’s excellent. Next is fourth single “Let the Fire Rain”, which stays in fairly similar territory (if anything being even slower), yet it does have some slightly heavier guitar work, and while the chorus is super catchy, as usual, it feels less radio friendly and more super epic and huge, as fans of the band have come to expect. The track has a strong feeling of urgency to it, despite being slow and more on the melodic side, and performances are very inspired and very energetic, while the lyrics are excellent, which helps to enhance it further. The pace picks up again with “Interstellar”, a track which doesn’t quite go all out, but it moves at a faster pace than most tracks on this album, and is led by some excellent melodic guitar work, with the keys still being prominent, but serving more of a secondary role. It’s a very fun, very melodic track, with an excellent chorus. My one complaint is that the last line of the chorus gets to be a bit repetitive, especially at the end of the song, but the buildup to is fantastic, and the chorus itself is amazing, so it still ends up being a highlight. Then guitar solo in the middle is also excellent, and is performed by Firewind guitarist Gus G.
Moving into the second half, “Alone in the Dark” is the only real ballad on the album, and as ballads are something the band has always excelled at, it’s no surprise to say this one is a winner! It’s fairly subdued, fairly minimalist, largely relying on light guitar work and vocals, though it does have slight symphonic elements in the instrumental section, which is quite nice. For the most part, it’s driven by the vocals, with nice verses and a very strong chorus, as well as a fantastic bridge, with lots of emotion behind the vocals and lyrics. After the first run through the chorus, Brothers of Metal vocalist Ylva Eriksson makes a guest appearance, and stays for the remainder of the track. She sounds fantastic as always, and while she and Seeb both sound great on their own, once they start harmonizing later in the track it gets to be absolutely stunning! Next is “Black Hole”, probably the weakest track in the second half, and possibly overall. It’s an enjoyable song, on its own, but I can’t help but feel the main riff and verses feel like a slightly darker, heavier version of “Heart of the Android”, though the chorus is a bit more upbeat and is super addictive, while the solo section in the second half is one of the most explosive moments on the album, so it still ends up being a great track, if a bit too samey for my liking.
My favorite sequence of the album begins with the semi title track “Absolution For Our Final Days”, a fairly slow paced track, with some crushing guitar work, nice atmospheric keys, and some stunning vocals. The verses are very light and melodic, while the chorus is one of the highlights of the entire album, being equal parts crushing, powerful, epic and beautiful, with Seeb delivering one of his strongest vocal performances to date. The lyrics are also fantastic, and as mentioned before, feel oddly fitting for right now, and the surprisingly heavy solo section is quite awesome, while the final run through of the chorus is stunning, and helps cap off what is possibly my favorite track on the album. Another major highlight is “Hollow”, which falls on the exact opposite end of the spectrum. Starting off with some weird electronic beats and chunky guitar work, it’s the heaviest, most intense track on the album, moving at a blistering pace throughout, feeling like a classic Orden Ogan track, except with a heavier reliance on keys than normal. It’s a very energetic, super fun and catchy track, with blazing fast verses and yet another extremely addictive chorus that matches some of their best work from previous albums. As far as pure power metal goes, this one is sure to be a fan favorite. Closing out the album, “It Is Over” is another very moving track, with some fantastic lyrics about the end of Mankind. It’s a fairly soft, slow paced track, with excellent keyboard work throughout, while featuring occasional bursts of heaviness. It almost feels like a power ballad for most of its duration, with the verses being slightly heavy, while the chorus is extremely soft and beautiful. While the chorus is fantastic, and the instrumental work is very nice, the highlight is the use of narration in the middle, which features a radio broadcast in many different languages, and it really helps deliver the overall message of the entire album in an extremely touching and memorable way. I’ve always thought of Orden Ogan as more of a fun band, but songs like this and the title track showcase a much more serious side of the band, which I previously underestimated, and it helps enhance an already great album.
After being a bit disappointed with their previous album, I didn’t have the highest of expectations for Orden Ogan, but they have managed to blow me away and fully win me back with Final Days. If anything, it sees the band moving further away from their speedy, heavy power metal sound from their first three albums, and instead is a much more melodic, more keyboard driven album, highlighted by fantastic choruses, vocals and some surprisingly emotional lyrics, which feel oddly fitting with the current times, in a way I imagine is unintentional (since the album was mostly written before 2020, I believe.) Either way, some power metal fans may be disappointed with it, but to my ears it’s one of the band’s strongest releases to date, and melodic metal fans looking for something with fantastic vocals and lyrics should definitely give this album a shot, along with all previous albums from this band. I’m pleasantly surprised, and hope the band can keep delivering more albums of this caliber in the future!
Written by: Travis Green
My Global Mind – Staff Writer
Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms.