To be completely honest, I was a little disappointed when I found out that ORDEN OGAN’S new one (Gunmen, out July 7 on AFM Records) was going to be a Western themed album; I don’t recall one such album by any artist that I enjoyed at all. Fortunately, this new disc was the exception to the rule. While Gunmen does have an American West theme to it, the music is pure ORDEN OGAN power metal – dark, brooding, and filled with huge choruses. Sebastian ‘Seeb’ Levermann (vocals, guitars, keyboards) does experiment a little with some fun sounds (is that a banjo that I hear in “Forlorn and Forsaken”?) but he doesn’t go too far with them, which seems to be a rare thing in themed albums these days.
The guitars are beautiful, as on every album that the band has released – the signature ORDEN OGAN sound is present in every track, with their usual twin guitar attack and tons of galloping riffs from Seeb and Tobias Kersting. Niels Löffler (bass) and Dirk Meyer-Berhorn (drums) provide the as-always strong rhythm section that is a staple of the band’s music.
The lyrics are another thing – while not bad, they’re definitely a little silly in some spots (“Vampire in Ghost Town”) and feel like a step back for the band. One of my favorite albums of all time is 2010’s Easton Hope, and Gunmen just really doesn’t come close to measuring up to that classic for me. On their first three records, the story came across immediately and while 2015’s Ravenhead felt a little abstract, you could get a sense of the story, but I really don’t feel much of a connection from one song to the next on this release. Despite the presence of mascot Alister Vale on the album cover, I can’t really even sense if the concept is about him or not.
All that said, this is a pretty darned good album. The vocals are full of hooks, both lead and the fat choruses, and the guitars are top notch. The music is outstanding, if the lyrics don’t entirely make sense to me, and Seeb’s production is absolutely amazing as always. I definitely look forward to hearing how some of these new songs turn out live. In the meanwhile, be sure to pick Gunmen up – fans of the band and darker European power metal definitely need this in their ears.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “The Face of Silence”, “Come With Me To The Other Side”, “Finis Coronat Opus”, “Fields of Sorrow”