I should quickly note that I love ORDEN OGAN. A lot. That said, it should come as no surprise that when I received a mysterious package containing a review copy of their first DVD, The Book of Ogan (April 29 on AFM Records) I was insanely excited. At over 5 hours in total length, it packs a lot into a beautiful package containing 2 DVDs and 2 audio CDs.
The design is beautiful – it actually looks like a hardcover book, and has some amazing artwork, both on the cover and the interior. The full color booklet contains a timeline of the band’s history, collages of tour passes, many pages of photos from live shows covering many of their performances and festival appearances, as well as a greeting from Sebastian “Seeb” Levermann (which is written in German, so I have no idea what it says). It also presents the liner notes, lyrics, photos and credits from their first demo release, 2004’s Testimonium A.D., for a special reason I’ll cover later.
The first DVD contains a 90+ minute documentary covering the history of the band from their formation in 1996 to the present day. The audio is all German, but there are hardcoded subtitles, so non-German speakers won’t be left out. It’s a fascinating ride through the last 20 years of the band, and covers many of the changes and decisions that led them to their current lineup and success, with several former band members contributing their thoughts and recollections. There’s something infinitely cool about seeing a 15-year old Seeb running around a backyard being silly that sets the table for a great documentary! They’ve also included a number of short clips from various performances over the years that show their progression as musicians and as a band that are really fun to watch and hear. Included on the first disc as well are all of ORDEN OGAN’S promotional videos, as well as a video report from their tour with RHAPSODY (again with subtitles), as well as a couple of “Making Of” videos for 2012’s To The End album and for the “The Things We Believe In” video shoot.
The second DVD is what had me the most excited – not one but TWO live performances, recorded in 2015! These were filmed at two shows in Germany – the ROCKHARZ Open Air Festival and an indoor show filmed at Brose Arena. Since they were recorded on the Ravenhead support tour, most of the songs are from the last two albums with one song each from Vale (2008) and Easton Hope (2010). There is significant crossover between the two performances with six songs appearing in both sets, but with such disparate environments between the shows, the recordings really stand on their own. The video quality isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty good, especially the indoor show with the variable lighting providing more of an impact that the outdoor daytime show from ROCKHARZ.
Also on the second DVD are live performances of “Angels War” from Summer Breeze 2013, “Easton Hope” live at Wacken in 2010, a very cool animated comic titled “Rites of Vale” set to the music of the band, and an alternate version of the “Masks” promotional video featuring live shots of the band. Packed into this disc as well is a montage of amateur shot videos from the band’s 2013 festival shows, interviews from Summer Breeze 2013 and Bang Your Head 2015 (both in German, no subtitles, alas!) and an interview (in English!) with Sons of Metal in Paris from 2014/2015.
So far, this package is already a stunner, but they threw in a couple of great extras. The first CD is titled “All These Dark Years – The Best of 2008 – 2015”, and it is aptly named. It’s a nice mix of some of the best tracks from their four full albums, and I was especially pleased by the presence of “Requiem” from Easton Hope, which is one of my favorite ORDEN OGAN tracks of all time.
The second CD has got to be one of the coolest things ever – for the first time on a major label, the band has released their original demo Testimonium A.D. in its entirety! This is extremely rare and hard to find, with many collectors asking more than 200 Euro for a copy, so having a physical disc of this classic included really caps off this DVD set with a flourish.
Overall, The Book Of Ogan is just excellent from start to finish, and there is a lot of stuff to enjoy here. This is an essential addition to the collection of power metal fans, especially those who really get into ORDEN OGAN. Pick it up on April 29!