September 14, 2012

Orange Goblin - A Eulogy for the Damned (2012)

You're right, I am a rotten bastard, I admit it. But I tell ya something: even though I got a lot of hate inside, I got some friends who ain't got hate inside. They're filled with nothing but love. Their only crime is growing their hair long, smoking a little grass and getting high, looking at the stars at night, writing poetry in the sand. And what do you do? You bust down their doors, man. Dumb-ass cop. You bust down their doors and you bust down their heads. You put 'em behind bars. And you know something funny? They forgive you.  

Astute TZEEEAC readers will remember that Orange Goblin was the very first band we talked about on our beloved blog, touching on their first three albums and praising them for the excellent psychedelic stoner rock they produced. Frequencies from Planet Ten, their first album, came out way back in 1997 and, since then, the band has managed to keep its original line-up more or less intact. That's 15 years (jeez, how the time passes...) of Joe Hoare blazing through awesome stoner rock riffs, Martyn Millard laying down the bass grooves, Chris Turner pounding the skins and the grizzly Ben Ward singing in his harsh, powerful voice. These Londoners are nothing if consistent.

Five years down the line since their last album, Healing Through Fire, Orange Goblin make their long-awaited return with their latest effort, A Eulogy for the Damned. The first thing that struck me was the cover art. Jesus Christ, what the hell is going on here? There's a man-woman hybrid being attacked by three demons/gargoyles while riding a chopper through a sea of blood while two dead astronauts (one popping pills and another getting his drink on) and a two-headed Cerberus are floating about, along with two huge tentacles poking out of the red waters. It's certainly interesting to look at and, once you go through the songs, you'll find that each of the things on  the cover are somehow related to the lyrics. Pretty clever, not to mention it's miles ahead from their previous album cover, which was an awful, half-assed Photoshop job full of skulls and shitty colors.

The good news, however, is that A Eulogy for the Damned is a rock-hard hard rock album that wastes no time in getting you to bang  your head with unprecedented vigor. Album opener Red Tide Rising throws everything it's got at you. The powerful, distorted riffs, the intense drumming and Ben Ward's gruff voice work so well together that the song hooks you instantly and torments you with apocalyptic tales of Cthulhu rising from the sea and fucking shit up. The guys have also developed a penchant for awesome choruses, like the ones on The Filthy and the Few or Stand for Something, which add a lot to the rock out with your cock out feel of the album. It's also interesting to note how the album constantly shifts gears between hard rock anthems that you'd expect to hear at a drunken biker party and the more aggressive, doom-laden songs about horrifying creatures and rotting horrors, like The Fog or Death of Aquarius. And, to round things up nicely, there's even a short psychedelic tune called Return to Mars which alludes to the band's early output of spaced-out stoner rock.

After 15 years together, these guys function together like a well-oiled machine - no riff feels awkward, no drum beat goes amiss, no lyric is off-beat. The crystal clear production fits the sound quite well, even though I sometimes long for the rawer feel of their early days. Clearly, Orange Goblin know what the hell they're doing and are comfortable enough to actually have fun while playing music. A Eulogy for the Damned isn't a milestone in their discography by any means, but it's a solid record that should get the crowds screaming in a second. Hopefully, I'll have the chance to confirm that soon.

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