Ogre Ferreus

The proto-man comes home on Plague of the Planet
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  March 19, 2008

This is the album Ogre have been meaning to make all along. The band’s first start-to-finish project on Japan’s Leafhound Records, Plague of the Planet riffs on themes pursued on 2003’s Dawn of the Proto-Man and 2007’s Seven Hells (released on Leafhound, but recorded before a deal was struck), but eclipses them both by being the fully realized concept album these ’70s-inhabiting southern prog rockers have been destined to make. From the album art-work, a stylized comic-book cover created by drummer Will Broadbent, to an included live video, Ogre have crammed everything they ever wanted onto this shiny piece of plastic.

That includes, also, exactly one song. That’s right, Ogre have taken this concept-album thing to its logical conclusion, by penning and executing one 37-minute suite that encompasses 11 movements and a grand story arc that finds man battling dog-man, only to evolve into proto-man.

Conceptually speaking
In honor of Ogre’s one-track, 37-minute concept album, Plague of the Planet, a brief primer on the best rock concept albums (or albums that contain songs long enough to be their own albums) of the past 40 years:

TOMMY, THE WHO The standard for concept albums in rock, released in 1969. That deaf, dumb, and blind kid still plays a mean pinball.

THE LAMB LIES DOWN ON BROADWAY, GENESIS If only for the reminder that Genesis used to be one of the coolest bands in the world — and then Phil Collins took over. This double-album chronicles Rael, a street punk in New York City who meets various mythical characters. Peter Gabriel is the best singer in the world for this album at least.

2112, RUSH What was originally the entire first side of the album is a 20-minute epic based loosely on Ayn Rand’s Anthem. Basically, creativity has been outlawed, then our protagonist finds a guitar. Shredding ensues. Note that the second side of the album contains unrelated songs.

THE WALL, PINK FLOYD The irony is that we’re supposed to find the protagonist to be a crazy person, but teens quickly adopted his psychotic anthems as their own rallying cries.

OPERATION: MINDCRIME, QUEENSRYCHE A hair-metal, ’80s version of 2112. Music has been outlawed, “the rich control the government, the media, the law,” but big guitar solos will eventually save us all. The band in 2006 released Operation: Mindcrime II, which answers the original’s final question, “Who Killed Mary?” Not very many people seemed to care anymore.

OCTAVARIUM, DREAM THEATER Just to prove that prog rock will never die, Dream Theater cut this new-classic back in 2005, bringing giant guitars firmly into the new century with a 20-minute final track.

Perhaps in homage to 2112’s lilting acoustic piece, where the main character finds his guitar and a link to the past (and his humanity; see sidebar), Plague opens with a beautifully rendered guitar piece, joined by a wash of cymbals. Then it transitions through giant floor toms into a slow grind of electric guitar, bass, and drum — the classic-rock trio, a mix between Cream and Rush.

From the outset, Ed Cunningham’s vocals have a delicious mythical slur to them, like he’s drunk on his own inventions. They are then mimicked by Ross Markonish’s guitar, which he plays languidly, pulling in and out of notes like they’ve been dipped in amber.

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