Review Summary: Melodic power metal has a new face.
Orden Ogan's first album, Testimonium AD, was a solid debut that showed a lot of promise. Taking the template of power metal, and tempering it with a healthy dose of folk music, Testimonium AD used acoustic guitars and strings to give their music an atmosphere that few bands can pull off. The album was short, and a few songs lacked the power that might have been needed, but the album was bolstered by the colossal hook of "Angel's War". That song alone showed that this was a band with a bright future. The sophomore effort for any band is a turning point, a watershed that defines if they have the ability to grow and produce great material, or if they managed to cobble together one album of great songs from a lifetime of writing.
Vale is the statement; Orden Ogan is here to stay.
Vale is a different beast from its predecessor, smoothing out some of the rougher aspects, and injecting a heartier dose of metal into the proceedings. After the intro, "To New Shores Of Sadness" kicks in with six and a half minutes of proggy metal with a killer hook. "Winds of Vale" was the first single, an addictive slice of pop metal slathered with strings. The folky side of the band is still present, but used as an effective dash of color, instead of as the driving force. "Farewell" is a beautiful string and guitar ballad that should appease even those who hate ballads.
"Reality Lost", "Something Pretending", and "A Friend Of Mine" are all solid metal songs with plenty of teeth. The band slows down for "... and if you do right" and "The Candle Lights", two acoustic numbers with tender melodies, showing off the songwriting ability of the band. "This Is" and "The Lord Of The Flies" both ride on huge melodies. Melodies are the key to the album, each song possessing one that will stick in your head. In a genre where formula is the norm, Orden Ogan breaks ranks by taking their instrumental cues from prog metal bands, eschewing light-speed chugging riffs for a more melodic, yet more technical style. All songs live and die on their hooks, regardless of the proficiency of the players, and Orden Ogan delivers in spades. These are songs that stand up against the best that power metal has to offer.
Orden Ogan is not a household name, and probably never will be. This kind of music isn't popular, but it is a religion for the devout followers. In Orden Ogan, they have found their next prophet.