On a cold and damp Tuesday night in London, a wagon rolled into town carrying a collection of outlaws, determined to leave a mark on the city. Well, not quite, but Orden Ogan did roll into town dressed as outlaw cowboys in support of their latest album, Gunmen. While they probably actually arrived by coach, they certainly managed to leave a mark on the crowd at The O2 Academy in Islington.
Support came from Canadian power metal band, Unleash the Archers and special guests and symphonic/power metal icons Rhapsody of Fire. All of these ingredients added to a night that was as much about celebrating power metal as it was promoting Orden Ogan’s newest album.
The O2 Academy Islington has a capacity of around 800 people and it felt sold out, or very close to it. Importantly, everyone seemed to be there intent on enjoying every second of the gig and it was great to see that the crowd were fully invested from the beginning with Unleash the Archers perfectly starting the night off and warming up a cold but eager crowd.
As keen as the crowd seemed for Unleash the Archers, it is nothing like to surge of excitement the ripples through the crowd as Rhapsody of Fire start their set. Once called just Rhapsody, they are credited as being the pioneers of symphonic metal so “special guests” indeed. As a band they have been around since 1993 though only the keyboardist, Alex Staropoli, remains in the band with a bit of a revolving door in other positions. That wasn’t an issue though as the current lead singer (since 2016), Giacomo Voli, is bloody brilliant. What a voice and infectious enthusiasm he has. The whole band were brilliant and they could quite easily have been the headliners and most people would have left satisfied.
They weren’t though and the quality of supporting acts should have meant that Orden Ogan would have a tough job following. Orden Ogan have been around since 1996 though and , in their own words, they are a touring band. This is what they do, preferring to be on the road to in a studio wherever possible. Bearing in mind that this tour is in support of their newest album, Gunmen (read our review of that here), it was interesting to see the band come out and start off with a selection of older classics. A quick hello to the crowd from the beaming lead singer and guitarist, Sebastian “Seeb” Levermann, sees the band jump into To New Shores of Sadness from their 2010 album, Vale.
The sound in the venue is spot on and the powerful guitars are spine tingling. The energy continues into F.E.V.E.R and Here at the End of the World and you can really feel who much fun the band and crowd are having. They, and we, are all properly connected as heads bang and horns are thrown into the air.
As much fun as the start was, a whole new level of noise and passion comes as the band introduce the first song from their latest album, Gunman. It is amazing how good the band sound and other than a few of the higher notes, it could be the album you are hearing. The crowd have obviously taken to the new album too as everyone sings “I am the Gunman”. Heavy, rhythmic sections sees every head in the venue bang in time before big emphatic choruses sees fists thrust in the air. Amazing.
Deaf Among the Blind and Sorrow is Your Tale come next as the onslaught continues. Beer is flowing, everybody is moving and the guitar of Tobi is absolutely ripping it up. I love the contrast of heavy, crunching sections followed by swooping and soring solos. Another new one comes next in the excellent Fields of Sorrow. This was probably my song of the night. The band sounded perfect but the crowd sang at a level that you could see was visibly exciting the band. That shared energy is contagious and you absolutely felt part of something huge.
The excellent The Lord of the Flies came next and kept the perfect momentum going before the band played a song I didn’t think they would. Come With Me to the Other Side came next. I love this song but a huge part of the album version are the female vocals from Liv Christine. As I scoured the stage wondering if they would have a special guest, the band started and Levermann sang all of the vocals himself, male and female and it was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. His gentle, melodic singing that suddenly switches into faster tones and a rumbling riff before the emphatic chorus is belted out be everyone in the crowd.
Forlorn and Forsaken comes next and the guitar hook is astonishing clear and true. It is an enjoyable song but probably suffered from coming straight after the magic beforehand. It was still great fun and had everyone bouncing though. The band take some time to thank everyone before playing their last song, One Last Chance. It is a great ending to an amazing show or, it could have been. Levermann makes a point to the crowd that with enough noise, they may return for an encore. As the band leave the stage, the noise starts. Thankfully it is loud enough that the band come back out to play not one, but four more songs.
To the End leads into Angels War and the crowd are straight back into the metal with hair flying and fists punching the sky. All while the drums pound and the guitars pull you in different directions emotionally. Fan favourite, We Are Pirates comes next and has plenty of people dancing around. Many like they have had one or two too many rums. It is great to see so many people involved and enjoying the gig. Even more so when the band are so obviously enjoying themselves on stage. Sadly, the last song of the night does come eventually. It is in the form of To The End which is a strong ending to an absolutely fantastic gig.
Musically, the band were near perfect. The support bands all created the perfect platform for Orden Ogan to step on to. The sound in the venue was spot on. The track list was also pretty near perfect though I wouldn’t have minded one or two more songs from Gunmen. In between songs Levermann interacted a lot with the crowd. He was both grateful and witty and often had everyone laughing along with him. The whole night felt like one of celebration. One of enjoyment and the smiles on everyone’s faces as they left suggests they had felt it too. Amazing.
You can pick up some albums from Orden Ogan, Rhapsody of Fire and Unleash the Archers at the links below. Check out Orden Ogan at their website, Facebook and Twitter for more information on them and their music and, importantly, future tours because they are brilliant. One confirmed show for the future already is Bloodstock 2018, so maybe catch them there?
Orden Ogan at The O2 Academy Islington (07/11/2017)