Aside from having a name that remains difficult to rhyme with anything, London’s ORANGE GOBLIN are perhaps most notorious for their 1997 full-length debut, “Frequencies from Planet Ten,” an album that single-handedly tanked the worldwide release of England’s most appalling musical-comedy, Spice World. Now, 16 years later, the band has returned to once again wage war against London’s sluttiest collection of female personalities and their latest girl-power incarnation, Viva Forever!: The Musical, with an album that hears the band jamming out with their patented live-show resolve and sweeping Stoner Rock bravado.
The band’s latest record is “A Eulogy for the Damned,” and while it surely acts as a reference to the demise of the aforementioned chick Pop-group, it’s also an ode to a ton of cool shit like Cthulhu, reality, the death of mankind, and werewolves. Musically, the band has hit their stride, playing in cloud-level comfort, easily tackling heavy Stoner grooves without breaking a sweat. Vocalist Ben Ward, in particular, sounds great, delivering a gravely mix of soul and blood while being wholly conscious of his responsibility to create original and infectious chorale work; an album trait that never fails to succeed, there are anthemic moments throughout, although choosing one over the other, might provide a clue in deciphering the record’s Achilles heel.
Apart from the amazing opener “Red Tide Rising,” and perhaps the big-riff track “The Fog,” the bulk of the remaining songs do a lot of the same with similar affect. Now what they do they do well, really well, but along the guidelines of variation, it’s a rather straight-forward affair that delivers exactly what you had hoped for from a rollicking Stoner/Sludge outfit.
That all sounds like a dream, right? Yeah, maybe it is, but it also feels uncannily like that perfect Christmas morning where everything you wished for is neatly giftwrapped, stacked, and there for the taking, and then, when all is unpacked, assembled, and compulsively lined in a row, a profound air of dissatisfaction lolls about, sucking the moisture from your gaudy Fraser fir until it implodes in a spectacular display of self-immolation. Everything you want is right there, but still, something odd, something truly unexpected and amiss would have made all the difference. Similar to how contemporaries ELECTRIC WIZARD and CATHEDRAL have further embraced darker, more experimental avenues, perhaps, so should ORANGE GOBLIN also go out on said limb, dive head first, and consent to these unwelcome tides.
And even with all that said, a band like ORANGE GOBLIN should be commended for numerous reasons: first and foremost for sticking together for as long as they have (succeeding 2007’s “Healing Through Fire,” only long-time guitarist Pete O’Malley has parted ways), and then, secondly, for sticking to their guns and honing their music into a finely forged blade that would have no problem cutting down any number of scene-craving hipsters.
ORANGE GOBLIN have been the real deal for a long while, and although certain nit-pickers might cite the album for being a bit too polished, “A Eulogy for the Damned” is at once expressive, memorable, accessible, and hard-as-hailstone Stoner Rock that eats, breathes, and fucks like a Metal monster. It’s not going to be crowned the 'be-all, end-all' record that saves London from its own Pop-diva frenzy (that will inevitably and naturaly collapse under its own tawdry formula), but it will get the beer and bud flowing in no time flat.
Crank some “Acid Trial” and a little “Death of Aquarius” and judge for yourselves.
(Online July 6, 2012)