On “Thrice as Strong”, Portland, Maine trio OGRE deliver a time-honored display of old-school doom with ‘70s rock elements that scale epic heights and heavy lows.
Tucked away in the most northeastern part of the United States in Maine, the members of OGRE have taken on the resilient nature of the place they call home. Upon their 1999 formation, the trio of Ed Cunningham (bass/vocals), Ross Markonish (guitar) and Will Broadbent (drums) penned “Age of Ice”, a rallying cry and anthem reflective of Maine life. The song exemplifies the OGRE live experience — their shows often require attendees to trudge through piles of snow just to get there — conjuring up a unifying spirit when the first doom-edged guitar chords are hit. The band’s embrace of all things Maine has carried them through their existence, all the while helping them forge a path as a doom outfit unwilling to bend to convention. It shines through on their fifth full-length and first for Cruz Del Sur Music, “Thrice as Strong”.
Tracked with Rowan Bishop at Garage Mahal Recording in Westbrook, Maine, “Thrice as Strong” is a collection of time-honored doom mixed with classic metal, roping in obscure ’70s rock to top it all off. The Thrice as Strong album title comes from their namesake song “Ogre,” which is found on their Dawn of the Proto-Man debut. Given that the song is written about the last living Neanderthal, Broadbent zeroed in on the line “thrice as strong” and proposed it as the title as a summation of the way OGRE has endured for the past 20 years. Furthermore, it hits upon the fact that, according to Markonish, “if it’s not a trio, then it’s not OGRE at all!”
Aside from their tribute to Maine’s own Stephen King on “King of the Wood”, “Thrice as Strong” follows the main lyrical theme of how those in power tend to abuse it, often with negative consequences. With lyrics penned largely by Cunningham, songs such as “The Future” takes a look at the lies we are told as children and how, when the future becomes the present, things aren’t exactly what they seemed. “Judgement Day” tackles the oftentimes shady relationship between religion and power, while “Hive Mind” explores the overriding effect technology has on our brains. And “Cyber-Czar” brings back a recurring motif in the OGRE pantheon — a cyborg running amok — for a summary of the album’s themes.
Complete with hand-painted cover art courtesy of Broadbent (the gatefold version will offer a surprise for buyers!), “Thrice as Strong” is as captivating of a doom package as you’ll find this year. The undeniable chemistry within the OGRE ranks — the result of years of slugging it out in the clubs and rehearsal room — provides the band with a unique edge, intrinsic not only to “The Pine Tree State”, but the doom scene at large.
1. The Future (5:57)
2. Hive Mind (5:30)
3. Big Man (3:55)
4. Judgement Day (5:38)
5. Blood Of Winter (8:35)
6. King of the Wood (5:42)
7. Cyber-Czar (8:24)
Ross Markonish – Guitar
Ed Cunningham – Bass / Vocals
Will Broadbent – Drums
Dawn Of the Proto-Man (Self Released, 2003)
Seven Hells (Leaf Hound, 2006)
Plague of the Planet (Leaf Hound, 2008)
The Last Neanderthal (Minotauro, 2014)
Thrice As Strong (Cruz Del Sur Music, 2019)