Ogre - Plague of the Planet
Release date: April 1, 2008
Ogre's love of giant robots, science fiction, and apocalyptic scenarios has come to a head with Plague of the Planet, their one track, 37-minute third album. Given the lyrical references to prior song titles, I can't help but think the Portland, Maine-based band's first two releases, Dawn of the Proto Man and Seven Hells, were primers on Plague of the Planet's labyrinth story.
What Plague of the Planet deals with is our world following a series of destructive (and, let's face it, topical) wars for oil, and its salvation through the Proto-Man, who is "a harmonic resonance of biology and technology." Leading up to this is the rise of the Dog-Men (essentially humans that have mutated into a half animal form) and their Dog-King, the Queen of Gasoline, who guards the dwindling oil supplies, and the arrival of Colossus, who's some sort of alien robot god that's made a habit of not only saving the world, but also appearing in Ogre songs.
So what is this, some kind of lyrically dense, eco-friendly doom? Not quite. An appreciation of Robert Heinlein may help with the storyline, but musically Ogre's moved past the confines of any one particular genre. While Plague of the Planet has plenty of the Pentagram-inspired riffs that defined their earlier work, the band's evolved into an amalgam of '70's rock. Given the length of this song, the band's wisely broken it into 11 suites, with each one taking on its own identity and sound. There's the heavy blues rock, some swinging boogie, classic doom, a couple of moments where they break out in a righteous early Iron Maiden-type gallop, atmospheric psychedelia, and plenty of solos that shows just how phenomenal a guitarist Ross Markonish is (bassist/vocalist Ed Cunningham and drummer Will Broadbent aren't slouches either – Ogre is a power trio in the truest sense of the word, and all three shine equally on Plague of the Planet).
In true prog fashion, they manage to tie it all together musically. Bombastic, epic, grandiose, and altogether captivating - Plague of the Planet revels in excess and in a love of all things classic rock. The only way it could be better would be if it's released on vinyl, giving the artwork (by Broadbent) a more deserving scale. If the world's to end and be reborn as Ogre describes, it's going to be one hell of a trip. Highly recommended.
(As an added bonus, the disc includes a live video of the band playing two songs in their hometown – "Dogman of Planet Earth" and "God of Iron." If you need proof that the band's shit hot live, there you go.)
- John Pegoraro
I'm never gonna work another day in my life