Perhaps it says all you need to know about German Power Metallers Orden Ogan‘s fifth outing, Ravenhead (AFM/Nuclear Blast), that not only did I assume on first listen it was a debut release, but that I hadn’t realised I’d actually seen the band live a couple of years back when they were completely overshadowed by both Freedom Call and especially Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody until reminded by our fellow scribe Richie HR (who had to endure me drunkenly bellowing the wrong words in his ear all through the headline set).
See, if by your fifth album the endearing features are “promising for the future”, “naïve energy and charm” and if you don’t have a distinctive sound of your own so as to be so unremarkable as to not be remembered, then NINETEEN YEARS into your bands’ existence maybe it’s time to sit down and take stock.
But does knowing that this is a fifth album (I tend to do my research after a first listen, if research is required, so that initial impressions are as untainted as possible) make the difference in how Ravenhead should be judged? Damn skippy it does. Because you know that “promise for the future” then becomes “Oh, this is probably as good as it’s going to get” and, if we’re being honest, “naivety” really means not quite doing it right or not yet realising what needs to be done to live up to the masters (or indeed apeing the masters a touch too much to be a successful band in your own right). Having lived with Ravenhead for a while it becomes obvious that, like so much else in today’s consumer society, while superficially it’s all shiny and nice, as an album it lacks any real depth, substance or character.
Borrowing heavily from Blind Guardian and their school of fantasy-tinged Power Metal, this is exemplarily well played, but as a million death/metalcore bands show, technical expertise certainly doesn’t equate to innovative songwriting ability and Orden Ogan will always be so far in the shadows of their countrymen that they may as well be invisible.
There are decent tracks on here, but after two decades and five albums I want more than a band that sounds a lot like one of their contemporaries with a touch of Sonata Arctica (on ‘A Reason To Give’) or an added folky, shanty feel to a ‘At The End Of The World’. Meanwhile ‘Deaf Among The Blind’ may as well add the word Guardian to the title and serve to sum up Orden Ogan’s status in life. Some of this may seem harsh because this is a perfectly pleasant proficient and professional Power Metal product, but where there is wheat, all else must be termed chaff.
6.0 / 10