Orange Goblin // A Eulogy for the Damned
Rating: 3.5/5.0 — Fighting music for the unwashed masses
Label: Candlelight Records
Websites: orange-goblin.com | myspace.com
Release Dates: EU: 13.02.2012 | US: 02.14.2012
We all have those bands we’re aware of for years but never make an effort to hear. I’m not even talking about bands you’re pretty sure you’ll hate (i.e. Korn). I’m talking about the bands you hear about, make a mental note to check out, only to be distracted by something shiny. The U.K.’s Orange Goblin is one of those bands for yours truly. I’ve heard of ‘em forever, heard mostly good things, but just never got up the gumption to track down their stuff. Over their long career, I’ve heard them called doom, stoner, punk and hard rock. While I must confess complete ignorance regarding all their prior releases, what I’m hearing on A Eulogy for the Damned, seems to justify all the monikers to a degree. In a nutshell, Orange Goblin plays a type of gritty, greasy hard rock with elements of 70’s doom and nods to southern rockers like Molly Hatchet and ZZ Top. There are echoes of Fireball Ministry, Black Sabbath, Motörhead and even late period Corrosion of Conformity in their sound. Basically, it’s music suitable for the kind of bar where you leave a few teeth as the tip. Its also much less stoner/doom based than I expected and way more groove rocking. While it isn’t going to be album of the year, its a grower with lots of rockinÂ music for rowdy folks with outstanding warrants and mean dispositions.
Eulogy is all about loud, in-your-face guitars, groovin rhythms and whiskey soaked vocals. No grace, no subtlety, just raucous, straight ahead, hard drinking music. Tracks like “Red Tide Rising” and “Stand for Something” are stripped down, muscular rockers with plenty of attitude and swagger. Big, fat riffs are the order of the day and there are plenty of good ones scattered about. The big winners are the southern-fried boogie of “Save Me From Myself,” the hard and heavy stomp of “Death of Aquarius” and the title track, which is the perfect soundtrack for last call at the town tavern. Of the ten tracks, only “Return to Mars” and “A Bishop’s Wolf” feels a bit flat and underwhelming.
This record, and I assume their other material, is all about the badass guitar playing of Joe Hoare and the tough-as-nails vocals of Ben Ward. Hoare crafts one knuckle dusting riff after another, balancing attitude with power and he propels the songs along like a drunken Sherman tank. His style is all about barroom bravado and you can almost smell the cheap bourbon and stale beer. He incorporates just the right amount of southern funk and blues and they add a lot of charm and atmosphere to the songs. Ward’s gruff, raspy bark and holler approach sounds perfect alongside the riffage and he gives the music a rough and ready vibe. Sometimes he reminds me of Reverend James Rota of Fireball Ministry, other times he sounds more like Lemmy. He doesn’t have much range and he doesn’t mix up his delivery much but it suits the music extremely well. Lyrically, this thing crackles with wit and boozy wisdom. I really found myself digging what Ward was saying and there’s some really well thought out word play.
Eulogy is one of those simple, no-frills albums and it feels quite refreshing and invigorating. I respect the no bullshit, zero pretensions approach to the songcraft and the overall simplicity of the style Orange Goblin employs. Now that I’ve spent some quality time with said Goblin, I’m wondering why I didn’t try these guys out way sooner. That is an oversight soon to remedied. Steel Druhm likes rowdy, blue-collar biker rock and this hits the spot like a sucker punch with a whiskey chaser. Here’s blood in your eye!