|Review: Orden Ogan - Vale|
Label: Yonah Records
Year released: 2008
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: November 5, 2009
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
I review a lot of shitty Power Metal. I don't even know why I do it, but the closest reason I can possibly give is that I'm attempting to provide one viewpoint on the genre and weed out the worst bands for people who are new to it. While of course my opinion isn't set in stone, these bands need reviews, as otherwise, how will anyone know how bad they really are? Well, while I could go on about that, the same goes for the good underground Power Metal bands. And by that I mean, good bands like Orden Ogan and their spectacular debut album Vale.
I mean, good fucking god, this is awesome. Orden Ogan's basic template is modernized prog-tinted Power Metal with heavy, driving rhythms, complex song structures that weave in choirs, strings and even subtle folk influences in, all without ever sounding cluttered or overwrought in the least – this music is actually very wide in its breadth, sounding as open and free as possible, and it adds a lot to the enjoyment factor of the album as a whole. The guitars are nimble and smooth, the drums are full and powerful and the vocals are brash and crisp in their aggressive, precise delivery.
One band this album reminds me of is Falconer, as both bands share a similar tendency to write subtly complex songs without most of the typical metallic aggression, while still remaining metallic in nature simply due to the intensity and drive on display. Orden Ogan is more complex than Falconer though, cramming their songs with multiple parts and textures to form songs that are more than songs, and in that way they're similar to the fantastic Kamelot, despite not sounding all that much like them otherwise. At their best, Orden Ogan create fluid tapestries of majesty and might that are quite simply irresistible once one gives them time to grow. Because at its core, Vale is not an album easily understood, and every listen will yield something new and exciting.
The songwriting is always strong and energetic, adventurous and dynamic. There's a heavy, underlying modern rock influence on a lot of the songs here, most notably the heavier ones, but it never hinders the quality. I think the best way to describe why this works is that it comes off as a carefully crafted juxtaposition between the melodic majesty of European Power Metal and the gritty back-street aesthetic of rock music, adding an extra punch and creating a fresh sound. Just listen to "Lords of the Flies," with its stomping build up and explosion into a minefield of hymnal choirs. Just listen to "A Friend of Mine," which bites like an angry piranha, loud and ferocious. Frankly, there's never a dull moment, and when I went back to listen to this after six months of silence, I was kicking myself for thinking it was ‘just OK' at first. And you'll be the same way. You will be pulled in by the pummeling, double-bass fueled "To New Shores of Sadness," and then that will be reinforced by the catchy "Winds of Vale," but these songs are not near the best the album has to offer, not when there are prog monoliths like "Reality Lost" and the Egyptian-tinted "Something Pretending," as well as the stunning closing ballad "The Candle Lights." Vale is an album of endless delights, and I hope we haven't seen the last of Orden Ogan yet. If there's any justice in the world, this album will have some followers in the next few years. Get this, and get it fast, whether you like the genre or not.
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