|Review: Orden Ogan - Easton Hope|
Label: AFM Records
Year released: 2010
Genre: Progressive Power Metal
Review online: March 25, 2010
Reviewed by: Adam Kohrman
Rated 4.48/5 (89.6%) (50 Votes)
Power metal is a genre in recovery. In the late 90s and early 2000s, it was all the rage. But a few years later, the genre became oversaturated and people lost interest. Also, many of its fans grew up and found music that they found to be more mature. That's unfortunate, because there are still plenty of great power metal bands out there. They just have a much harder time promoting themselves and getting heard due to the lack of major label interest. The top bands in the genre aren't doing tours beyond Europe, if even there. It's not catastrophic, however. Plenty of genres have become relegated to underground status, and they're fine. They remain popular with their core fan base, one that devotedly remains intact, and will forever remain so. Orden Ogan is a band that has sprouted up during this recovery period. Creating interesting melodic, progressive power metal, they've gained a following while still flying under the radar. Their music is epic, engaging, and at times elegiac. Without doing anything special or wildly original, they've created a fine concept album in Easton Hope.
Flying in the face of the genre's powerhouses like Sonata Arctica and Dragonforce, Orden Ogan don't rely on hyperspeed soloing and various extravagances to dupe listeners into loving their music. They don't go back to the basics, either. Focusing on strong, vivacious riffing and grandiose choir sections, Orden Ogan transcend the genre's oversaturation whilst employing its frequent (and oft stereotyped) aesthetic elements. Opening with the modern sounding "Nobody Leaves," the sound of the band is immediately established. Sometimes it's built upon, and sometimes left to be simpler. Whatever the case may be, they follow up on this sound, creating a sense of eager anticipation as the tracks flow from one to another. Before long, the engaging and vigorous title track "Easton Hope" comes on, and the album reinforces its story while retaining its musical prowess. The bombast continues with songs like the deliciously cheesy "We are Pirates," whose refrain is as catchy as music gets.
Despite the fact that the majority of this album is great, it goes on far too long. By the time "We are Pirates" ends, Orden Ogan have exhausted their welcome. This music isn't that original, and it can only sustain itself for so long. There are two songs after "We are Pirates," and they aren't memorable at all. This isn't because they're mediocre, but because Orden Ogan's sound has become tired. The last song, "Of Downfall and Decline," is over eleven minutes. I'd love to see the band tackle this sort of epic, but not after listening to ten similar songs. There are some clunkers on this record, too. Orden Ogan struggles when it comes to ballads. "Requiem" is a poorly executed attempt that comes across forced and wimpy. On another track, "All These Dark Years," the band try to emphasize going through emotional struggle. It seems ridiculous and even unintentionally funny. It's that type of sympathy seeking music that often receives the blanketing term "emo," even when the adjective is highly undeserved.
Even though I've spent a while pointing out this album's faults, it's a great release. The benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. This is a needed step towards recovery for the power metal genre.
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