FeaturesOrden Ogan – Fear Is In Order

Orden Ogan – Fear Is In Order

When it comes to bombastic melodic power metal chock full of mammoth vocal harmonies and energetic hook-laden riffs throughout their records, look no further than Orden Ogan as one of the premiere acts in this genre. Their latest album The Order of Fear may feel like a journey through all periods of the group – as they delve into songs that can be progressive and folk-ish one minute, then powerful and speedy the next. We were able to talk with guitarist Niels Löffler about the transition to latest record label Reigning Phoenix Music, the songwriting and thought process behind the latest album, the importance of Sebastian ‘Seeb’ Levermann and his multi-level abilities within the group, how the recent touring went for the group, advice for younger musicians, hopes for the future regarding peace, equality, and a good life, as well as what’s on the horizon for 2024 into 2025.

Dead Rhetoric: After years being a part of the AFM Records roster, Orden Ogan signed a new deal with Reigning Phoenix Music. How do you feel about this shift in record labels and what this next chapter for the band will be in terms of promotion, publicity, and importance?

Niels Löffler: That’s a very good question. I mean RPM is a fairly new label as well, but some people that worked with us at AFM before are there right now. Personally, I have the feeling that it is a good step for us. It was great working with AFM always, but it is in the end right to try something new. There is a new team, and everyone is pretty excited about us being there as well as we are excited about being there. So far, it’s a wonderful relationship with all the people there.

I think this is basically the next step in our career if you want to call it that.

Dead Rhetoric: The Order of Fear is the latest studio record for the band. Where do you see this set of songs and output sitting in the catalog of the group? Is it a balancing act this deep into the band’s career to satisfy your own creative abilities while also keeping in mind the expectations of what the listeners want and desire?

Löffler: Well, of course first of all we write the music that we want to hear. And also hope that the fans basically enjoy the same stuff. On this album, it’s pretty clear that it’s an amalgamation of everything that has come before kind of. That’s what it’s also called The Order of Fear, which is the English translation for Orden Ogan. It just felt right to do something that sums up everything that we’ve done right up until now. At the same time, we wanted to make things sound a bit rawer and in your face.

Dead Rhetoric: So, do you feel that this record encapsulates all periods of the band?

Löffler: I wouldn’t say so, but more so of the past five albums. There are two tracks at the end of the album that are a little bit more proggy that are more in the vein of Easton Hope or Vale, but still a little darker. We somehow managed to get all different styles that we’ve had in our time of existence on this album.

Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe the work of Seeb when it comes to Orden Ogan as far as his vision, songwriting, and abilities as a vocalist, musician, and producer? What makes him very special in your eyes?

Löffler: Oh, that’s an interesting question! First of all, I think that he is crazy good at everything he does. He will not release anything that is not perfect in his eyes. Of course, it can be a little bit tough working with him because he knows pretty much exactly what he wants – and if it’s not happening, even in the creative process with the songwriting, it can be a bit for frustrating. Sometimes I will say hey, this part is great, it’s perfect – and he will come back, no, this is not the right part. Maybe a few days later somebody comes up with a new thing and then it fits – and I have to say most of the time, yes, he was right.

We all know that he is a great record producer, but he’s also very involved in all of our videos. He also knows what he wants there, the visual style of how Orden Ogan is being presented. He also does a lot of editing himself, sometimes the camera work. He’s the jack of all trades, in a very positive sense.

Dead Rhetoric: Where do you see your role and importance for the group – as you’ve had to shift instruments a couple of times due to lineup changes and Seeb’s hand injury?

Löffler: Yes. I started in Orden Ogan as the bassist, but originally, I’m a guitar player. At the time I joined the band I had no other band and of course I wanted to play guitar, but we had two great guitar players at that point with Seeb and Tobi back in the day. I’m also a team player, and I do my best to serve the band in the end. Seeb injured his hand, and I was asked to play guitar at the next few festivals, and I said yes, I can try. And that worked out very well. Apart from being a musician and having those shifting roles, of course I contribute to the songwriting as well. On this latest album, I was involved in half of the songs. I’m able to bring in my creativity as well but in the end it’s always Seeb who says what is good and what needs to be worked on.

Dead Rhetoric: What can you tell us about the video shoots for “My Worst Enemy”, “Moon Fire” and the title track? Do you enjoy exploring different visuals, characters, and cinematic elements through these videos to captivate people in a unique way to Orden Ogan that they may not experience through the live shows or personal album listening experience?

Löffler: Yeah, of course. You always try to tell a story and make people interested or were not originally interested in the band, seeing Orden Ogan they think that they have great looking videos, maybe I should check them out. It can make them a long-term listener for the band. It’s also important to show the visual style of the band in these videos. It’s always a little bit different, we have these themes going on from album to album, and of course the video clips have to fit into that. We try to make a cohesive picture all the time.

The videos, we often times try to explore more of the story of the songs, maybe also explore the story and plot lines that go through the whole album. We are not doing concept albums, but we always have themes going on. Especially on these songs, a lot of the songs revolve around our main character Alister Vale, and his ever-evolving story. And of course, the visual elements have to fit what we have in mind. A lot of the elements that are in the videos, you will also find on the album cover. We also try to incorporate some of these elements in the live setting, but that can be a different story.

Dead Rhetoric: Discuss your thoughts on your most recent German tour with Feuerschwanz that you recently completed – what were some of the more memorable highlights, and do you have a preference at this point between the tours versus festival stages when it comes to Orden Ogan – or are both equally important for their own reasons?

Löffler: They are both important. I enjoy both things for different reasons. Festival shows are great, the shows are usually larger, the stages are usually larger, you can do a lot more on stage with the setup and so on. Often times you go there for just one day, and then go on the next day to the next festival. We just travel by van in that case, as it’s cheaper. On this tour, the whole band went together a bit more as we were traveling in a night liner, I thought that was pretty important. We haven’t done a nightline tour since 2018 I think, pre-pandemic. I always enjoy that part of the tour. For the shows, most of the shows were sold out, the Feuerschwanz guys, they were really great, and the Dominum guys, the same thing. We were all on the same bus, a great feeling of community. The audiences were great, no complaints – it was a great tour. And now we are looking forward to the festival dates coming up.

Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe the band chemistry within Orden Ogan – and the importance of proper communication, understanding, and the roles that you play to developing a professional outfit on all fronts?

Löffler: Of course it’s very important. For example, even if we don’t have any shows coming up, we do one video meeting every week where we discuss things – and if we don’t have band business to discuss, we talk about our private stuff and make jokes. Apart from that, you need to talk about things, and everybody needs to know what to do. It’s good we have Seeb, he is the leader of the gang, and he tells us sometimes what we need to do. Today, you need to do this interview, and so on.

Dead Rhetoric: Where do you see the state of the heavy metal scene within mainland Europe compared to other parts of the world – especially coming out of this prolonged global pandemic where tours/festivals were shut down for a couple of years?

Löffler: As of now, I can’t completely answer that. We are just starting again with doing real touring, which is a big part of the scene. I can speak mostly for Germany. It’s still a very healthy and active scene in general. I still see tours getting canceled and so on. The bands that knew how to use social media during the pandemic, especially during that time, they’ve seemed to grow and have been speeding along into the live sector. The bands that weren’t so into social media, they are struggling a little bit at the moment. We will see, but I think it’s getting better again.

Dead Rhetoric: What do you think are some of the harder aspects for the average fan of Orden Ogan to understand when it comes to specific plans or business decisions that have to be made over the course of your career?

Löffler: Orden Ogan as a band is doing very well, especially in mainland Europe. And whenever someone asks us from South America if we are going to tour there, it’s not as easy to just go there and play one show. You have to have a lot of planning, financial security, advances to book flights and so on. Also, you need people that you can trust, and you don’t always have that. One thing that maybe the fans don’t understand is often times it’s not like we say, we want to play there, and we go there. Usually it’s the other way around – promoters ask us if we want to play a festival or tour, and if they don’t do that, we just can’t do it. It’s local people that promote and organize things. So, it’s not necessarily our decision why we don’t play certain areas.

I know there is interest in the US, and I hope we will be able to do a proper US tour at some time. I don’t think it’s going to happen this year; you never know what will happen.

Dead Rhetoric: Do younger musicians ever ask you for specific advice when it comes to their songwriting, style, business practices, or other areas of the music industry – and if so, what thoughts and words of wisdom do you try to impart?

Löffler: I personally don’t get asked that question too often, but maybe I can think about how I would answer this. First thing, understand your craft. You have to know what to do and get better at it whenever you can. Make mistakes and learn from them. The second part of that is important. For songwriting style, you have to know what you want to sound like. You have to have your own vision of what your music should be. You can try out everything you want but at some point, you should make a decision and say this is what I want to do. When you are a band, people need to be able to relate to what you want to do. For example, if Orden Ogan would make a jazz album, people would be very confused.

Dead Rhetoric: What does success mean to you personally, and has that definition changed from your start as a musician to where you are today?

Löffler: Success to me is more like personal success. I’ve achieved personally what I wanted to achieve. As an example, when I was younger the first festival I went to was Wacken. And then I said I wanted to play on that stage one day – and well, I have achieved that. It was great. Writing music that people enjoy also. You want a little bit of admiration by your fans, you are always happy when they like what you do. That is success to me also.

Dead Rhetoric: What worries or concerns do you have about the current world that we are living in today? If you had the power, energy, finances, and resources to tackle one or two major issues, what would you work on for the greater good of all?

Löffler: You are giving me a tough time here. I would like there to be peace, equality, and a good life for everyone on Earth. I have no idea how I would do it. I want everyone to be a happy person living a happy life. If I had the resources, I cannot say I would tackle a certain topic. I want everyone to be well and have a good life.

Dead Rhetoric: What’s next on the schedule for Orden Ogan over the next year or so to support the new record? Any plans to explore new territories or try new things to expand the horizons of the group?

Löffler: Now we are starting the festival season. We will try to do a lot of touring over this year and next year also. This year will be mostly still Europe. Next year… I think there are some plans in the pipeline but there is nothing that I can really speak about. But new territories would always be nice.

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