‘Back From The Abyss’
(Released: 6 Oct 2014)
On this their eight album (and second since famously being able to quit their jobs and do this full-time) the fuzzed-up Londoners go about their business with typical bluesy gusto. Catchy stoner/metal riffs are delivered with a muscular energy and a juggernaut-load of power. ‘Back From The Abyss’ delivers crowd-pleaser after crowd-pleaser – it’s often a bit formulaic, but undeniably infectious.
Fair play to Orange Goblin for working incredibly hard and establishing themselves as a rare commercial success. The band’s popularity continues to grow as they endlessly tour the universe, bringing their brand of power to anyone who’ll listen. There’s enough variety on offer to draw in fans of doom, punk, hard rock… It’s fantastic to see heavy music and gigantic riffs getting mainstream respect. Perhaps they are a modern band for a modern age, living proof that the middle of the road is the path to success.
Orange Goblin’s combustible mix of Motorhead and Black Sabbath is not exactly radio-friendly puff though: it’s heavyweight enough to get the blood pumping, and this album is impressively consistent. The band has called it “the definitive Orange Goblin album” and it’s easy to agree, because it sums up the band’s attributes as well as its limitations. The guitar tones may hit you like the blast from a space shuttle’s engines, but if you’re looking for Mind-Food you will not be overwhelmed.
Charismatic vocalist Ben Ward applies his familiar gurgling roar to a series of well-constructed, four-minute-long ditties of doom and blood. But some of his blithely self-aggrandising lyrics are a big turn-off. Ward takes a populist route and is defiantly unafraid of a cliché. “I’m a vampire with a loaded shot-gun!” he claims. “I am the voices in your head!” he adds. At which point the voices in your head might suggest that you listen to something with a little more gravitas.
Later: “If I fall and die, I pray the valkyrie will carry me home… to Valhalla!” And, not satisfied with the preposterous Viking waffle, Ward rides the piratical zeitgeist on ‘Mythical Knives’ and goes sleepwalking into “the arms of Morpheus…” (Yawn.) Of course, certain types of metal are all about the vibe and sometimes the words don’t matter. But if the wider world is taking an interest in this kind of music, wouldn’t it be great if they heard the very best of it?
Power and melody explode from Orange Goblin, a professional metal band on a mission of world domination. It’s good ol’ hard-rockin’, amp-shakin’ stuff, and there are fleeting moments of sexiness and brilliance on ‘Back From The Abyss’ – but there’s not much you haven’t heard before.
[A quick complaint: Orange Goblin are co-headlining on European dates with Saint Vitus. Co-headlining with Saint Vitus??? Few bands in the history of doom/heavy metal are worthy of such status, and Orange Goblin are surely not one of them!]