Orden Ogan continue to meld metal into a a formidable and current sound. Their most recent offering, Ravenhead, is an 11 track powerhouse of a record, proving to be one of the strongest releases of the decade. Just coming back from an extensive European tour with Hammerfall and lining up festivals this summer, we were able to sneak in a moment with Orden Ogan vocalist, Seeb.
How have your recent releases (i.e, Ravenhead and To The End) compared with the music you began playing before your band’s career formed between the years 1996 and 2004?
Ah, well, there are some misunderstandings and just wrong things written in the internet about the early days of the band. We consider the history of ORDEN OGAN as you know it today starting from the release of Vale in 2008. That was our first record deal, and other people started working for the band (booking, management and so on). Keeping the name ORDEN OGAN was more like a hommage to the garage band days from 1996 on. I mean we were 14 years old and bought our first instruments back then. We mostly met a the rehearsal room to have fun and eat pasta, haha. Needless to say that the band was inacitve for several years in total in that time.
Have you had any doubts about your new album, now or during the making of it?
We are a band that loves doing what they do and love making the music we do. That’s all “real”, and I think people realize that it’s not a commercial product but straight from the heart, if you want so. We are a band that speaks to their fans a lot though, and what we were told over and over again was that the two really strong parts defining the ORDEN OGAN sound are the hard, heavy riffs (that is uncommon in power metal) and the catchy sing-along chorusses. We thought about that and tried a different approach in songwriting this time, starting with all the chorusses instead of going from the first riff. I think this is the reason why Ravenhead turned out to be the strongest record so far, concerning the choruses. Nevertheless, there have been times when I was not sure wheather that was the right way or not. Also, it was crystal clear that “The Things we believe in” would be the first single and the video-track, when we recorded To The End (2012), but it was very difficult to pick the single for Ravenhead, because all the songs are quite on the same level. Yes, definitely made me scratch my head at times, but luckily people really seem to dig the record as it is now.
What was it do you think that your band has done differently during the writing and making of Ravenhead that has resulted in such a huge and intense response from fans and new listeners?
I think ORDEN OGAN made a huge step forward with To The End (2012). Crowds and festivals got bigger and bigger, and more and more people got into the ORDEN OGAN sound. So I actually think the foundations for these responses were laid back in 2012. So people were really waiting for the new record. We’re glad that we exceed their expectations.
A Facebook comment on your video ‘F.E.V.E.R’ stated pretty fairly that you’ll be “picking mud out of your instruments for months”. How did your band decide this was the kind of video you wanted to shoot for your new release?
It was an obvious choice. “F.E.V.E.R” tells small parts of the different stories to be found in the songs on Ravenhead. And yes, we had to clean or stuff for days (laughs). We think that all the different elements have to fit together perfectly. That’s why we focus a lot on a great, hand-painted coverartwork, stage outfit and videoclips that stand out from the rest.
The album’s cover artwork was painted by Andreas Marschall. This has become an Orden Ogan tradition now. What does the artwork on this album tell us about the music inside?
It shows a scene out of the (loose) concept story of the record. ORDEN means “order” in German, OGAN is old-celtic for “fear”, so the band name means the order of fear. You can see the (immortal) monks of the order of ogan on the main cover. On the back cover there is a huge castle-like looking building that lies on a hill or ledge. That is actually an abbey (or monastery). Ravenhead is the name of that abbey, the home of the order of ogan, and refers to the higher location (head) and the ravens in the sky over the abbey.
It’s some sort of a loose concept concerning the same location, where all the storys take place – at the abbey of Ravenhead and the lake in front of it, somewhere at the end of the world. It’s all about telling some small, dark stories, but most of the lyrics also have a second level of meaning.
You also organized the German metal festival WinterNachtsTraum. Tell us about that endeavor. What made you say, “hmm, let’s go ahead and do this”?
Yes, kind of. Back in 2004, when we first launched the WinterNachtsTraum Festival, there was basically not a single venue in Arnsberg (the place the band was originally founded) where metal bands could play shows. And we met a lot of good underground bands even back then from all over europe. So, yes, some day I made the webpage, set a date and booked 24 bands and then said to my collegue “Well, seems I just booked a festival, we need a venue now, haha”….
In reading press releases, these state that you all are the future of power metal. Tell us how this is true.
We didn’t write that ourselves! (laughs) I guess puffing is part of the trade. Though I also have to say I think there is not too much new blood in powermetal in the last years that really made it. The last bands that grew big are Sabaton and Powerwolf, whereas other genres spawn a lot more bands. Also ORDEN OGAN combines the feeling and the atmosphere of (German) traditional power metal bands with modern elements and a modern production.