Having been around since 1995, ORANGE GOBLIN are hardened Metal veterans who have rocked venues around the world with their unique blend of twangy Stoner ballads and hard hitting, gritty southern outlaw grooves. The United Kingdom born group exhibit an impressive discography comprised of seven full-length albums, all of which have received rave reviews and unarguable praise, so it comes as a surprise that “A Eulogy for the Fans” is the group’s first live album in their lengthy 18 year career. Deeming this album through the title as a tribute to the fans, just how good of a tribute is it?
The first thing to note about this live album is that the audio comes directly from the group’s performance on August 11th, 2012 at the Bloodstock Open Air Festival in the U.K. The album rips open with "Red Tide Rising", the first single from ORANGE GOBLIN's 2012 release, “A Eulogy for the Damned,” followed by "The Filthy & The Few" from the same record. These tracks are an incredible introduction into the gig, in that they get the blood pumping and heads banging. Dejectedly from the get-go, vocalist Ben Ward sounds winded; this is made all the more noticeable since he sounds short of breath in the opening track, along with others such as "The Fog", "Acid Trial", "Blue Snow", "Quincy the Pigboy," and "Scorpionica". On the other hand, his vocals are very strong in "Ballad of Solomon Eagle", "Time Travelling Blues," and "Some You Win, Some You Lose", despite the backing vocals on the latter track being strangely lackluster. The livelihood portrayed by the rest of the band is nearly spot on; the bass is very prominent throughout the performance, the guitar dons its trademark fuzz but sounds as if it is tuned a half-step lower on some tracks than what is given on the studio content, and the drumming keeps a steady backing tempo. The only song that comes off a little rushed is "The Filthy & The Few", which sounds as if the tempo was bumped up just a few notches.
The set list has a pleasing variety of a little bit of everything from ORANGE GOBLIN's extensive career; that is except for content from “Coupe De Grace” and their debut album, “Frequencies from Planet Ten.” A comprehensive breakdown of the tracks indicate that, "Red Tide Rising", "The Filthy & The Few", "The Fog" and "Acid Trial" are from 2012's “A Eulogy for the Damned” - "The Ballad of Solomon Eagle" and "They Come back" are from 2007's “Healing Through Fire” - "Some You Win, Some You Lose" and "Round Up the Horses" are from 2004's “Thieving from the House of God” - "Scorpionica" and "Quincy the Pigboy" are from 2000's “The Big Black” - lastly, "Blue Snow" and "Time Travelling Blues" are from 1998's “Time Travelling Blues.” The first half of the 12-track set list is solid and breathes energy into the air, but this potency begins to dissipate around "Round Up the Horses". Though it does pick back up during "Acid Trial" and "They Come Back", the set ends on an anti-climactic note with "Scorpionica". It's puzzling as to why ORANGE GOBLIN elected to leave out content from their two highest revered albums in lieu of "Quincy the Pigboy", "Scorpionica", "Round Up the Horse" and "Blue Snow", especially for their first live album. The band could've benefited from choosing a stronger finale; perhaps "Getting High on the Bad Times", "Magic Carpet", "Aquatic Fanatic" or maybe even "A Eulogy for the Damned". However, it is good to see a live set list that isn't compromised from 3/4ths of the current studio record.
“A Eulogy for the Fans” is barely above-par for a live album. While the members boast an energetic and authentic performance, Ben Ward's faltering vocals are unforgivably noticeable; added on top is a set list that has a tenacious start but dull ending. ORANGE GOBLIN had an amazing opportunity to record their Bloodstock headlining concert live, and the band has all of the right fundamentals to pull together a live album, but unfortunately the pieces didn't quite fit together this time around. Die hard ORANGE GOBLIN fans rejoice, others should just stick to listening to the studio content.
(Online February 13, 2013)