Orange Goblin

Back From The Abyss

Written by: AP on 08/10/2014 14:52:27

Always the trusty purveyors of pub wrought biker metal, Orange Goblin’s previous blast of rock’n’roll excess ”A Eulogy for the Damned” delivered the London based gremlins into a commercially viable position which allowed the four musicians to quit their day jobs and focus exclusively on their music. Casting the metaphorical 8-ball with “Back from the Abyss”, two years in its wake, thus posed the obvious question of whether or not the shedding of ulterior responsibilities and the resulting increase in the amount of time the group was able to use on writing it, might address the deficiencies that my colleague Ellis Woolley highlighted in his review of “A Eulogy…” and restore the grandeur of 2004’s “Thieving from the House of God” and 2007’s “Healing Through Fire”, not to mention the band’s stoner days of yonder.

One of the key differences Mr. Woolley pointed out was the cleaning up of the ‘Goblin’s signature bar room brawler act with a more polished production, the consequent loss of grit in the tone and restraint effected on vocalist Ben Ward’s characteristic roar proving a decisive issue for him - one which despite the undeniable quality of songs like “Red Tide Rising”, I was prone to agree with. Certainly not up to par on power with “Healing…”, Ward’s singing here, too, is more characterised by smoky blues than a drunkenly bellowing patron at the end of the bar, eager to share his beer soaked philosophies with the entire establishment. It’s more tempered, more contemplative; leaving it thus for guitarist Joe Hoare, bassist Martyn Millard and drummer Chris Turner to effectuate the thunderous pummel for which Orange Goblin is renowned. They do so with some esteem in opener “Sabbath Hex”, unleashing out the gate one of the most memorable riffs on the record, full of Southern fried flavours and festive intent.

Still, as “Übermensch” delivers another solid slab of blue note riffs, there is the lingering sensation that the off-the-hinges feel so integral to the ‘Goblin style is absent. They’re solid showcases for stoner metal to be sure, but for a band of their stature, there’s an unsettling degree of autopilot engagement creeping into the fray here. Not so with the explosive “Devil’s Whip”, fortunately, which enlists the galloping energy of Motörhead and simultaneously provides a rare glimpse of Ward’s former self in the most raucous track “Back from the Abyss” has to offer; nor the furiously bombastic, table-toppling call to mosh “Bloodzilla” found in the latter half of the album. But aside from these exceptions, moments worthy of awe come few and far in between. The traditional exposition of Orange Goblin’s weakness for Sabbath-y doom arrives in convincing style with “Heavy Lies the Crown” (less so on the following, similarly inclined “Into the Arms of Morpheus”, however), while the diverse “Mythical Knives” also impresses with its incorporation of Grand Magus style heroism into its thick, stoning grooves.

To its credit, “Back from the Abyss” shuffles the formulas virtually from song-to-song, with the rhythm section in particular consistently driving all manner of physical responses. Neither does it boast any decidedly weak tracks, and sliding it into the stereo has the capacity always to elicit a surge of energy within the listener. As ever, Orange Goblin’s music goes hard, even if the result falls somewhat short of their pre-2010 pedigree. Despite never failing in its pursuit of awesome riffs, the 12-track opus does wear a little thin towards the end through repetition. As such, it leaves a disappointing aftertaste even if a number of the flavours infused to it come across as positively striking.


Download: Sabbath Hex, The Devil’s Whip, Heavy Lies the Crown, Mythical Knives, Bloodzilla
For the fans of: The Atomic Bitchwax, Dozer, Kyuss
Listen: Facebook

Release date 06.10.2014
Candlelight Records

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