The pub gremlins known as Orange Goblin are back and once again, they’ve been fed after midnight and doused with way too much cheap beer and rotgut whiskey. For the uninitiated, that means more rowdy outlaw biker rock filled with southern blues, doom and stoner influences that all get sent crashing into the rocks of macho bravado and testosterone. Following up 2012s enjoyably soused A Eulogy for the Damned, Back From the Abyss keeps the sketchy pool hall chic intact and adds more dumbbells, prison tattoos and Lemmy-isms for a potent potable of in-your-face, no bullshit biker metal. They’re heavier and more abrasive than others in this genre like Fireball Ministry and Chrome Division and sound like what you’d expect to hear at a Sons of Anarchy friendly drinking establishment that doesn’t frown upon drunken gunplay and arrest warrants. Happily, they marry this intrinsic ferocity with snappy song writing, thereby making this stuff an ideal soundtrack for ugly times with uglier companions.
This is an album of stomping, groove-heavy, guitar-driven anthems to belligerence and poor choices, and opener “Sabbath Hex” is a fine example of what to expect. It’s simple, heavy doom rock with steel toed riffs and the raspy, whiskey stained roar of Ben Ward. As they chug and pummel with fistfuls of attitude, you can almost see bikes roaring down the highway to misadventure. “Ubermensch” channels Monster Magnet and Fireball Ministry and the rousing shouts of “carry yourself like a man” are best heeded if you want to be a part of this club.
“The Devil’s Whip” is Motorhead worship all day long and at times Ward sounds like King Fowley (Deceased, October 31) as he retches and roars. “Demon Blues” is a titanic serving of piss and vinegar pie with extra vinegar and it’s mid-tempo crunching is hard to resist or ignore. The high water mark arrives with “Heavy Lies the Crown,” which is what an onstage collaboration between Crowbar, Manowar and Amon Amarth would sound like. It’s epic, chest thumping war metal executed in greasy bar rock style and it works amazingly well. The chorus is a fist shaking, bottle throwing wonder and it will stick in your ribs like a rusty shiv. Later ditties like “Mythical Knives” works on adrenaline alone, and “Titan” channels a wee bit of Kyuss for a more grandiose vibe.
While most of the songs have something good going for them, there’s little diversity to be found on Back From the Abyss, and by the 3/4 mark, the songs start to bleed together into a monolithic slab of back alley rhythmic beatdown. This leaves a few cuts like “The Abyss” on the outside looking in and leaving scant impact. It’s also a bit overlong, and ten tracks would have been more than enough to bruise and amuse. Add to that a mix that gets a bit soupy at times, and there’s just enough to hold the album back from a more hearty endorsement.
As always, the Goblin template calls for big, tooth rattling riffs from Joe Hoare and hoarse bellowing by Ben Ward. It works as well as always and the combination guarantees that Beer Muscles Syndrome takes hold by song four. You’ll want to do dumb, generally illegal things involving a fair amount of violence, sex and animal husbandry. Hey, that’s just what this music is all about, and there’s no use sugar coating it. It’s designed to make you over imbibe, punch a cop and fuck a goat and though we at AMG don’t endorse any of that, it is what it is. Ward in particular elevates his game here, sounding as raw and pissed off as ever, but adding a touch more finesse to his rough and tumble delivery, especially on “Heavy Lies the Crown.”
You know what to expect from Orange Goblin by now, and Back From the Abyss keeps the good times and joints a rolling. It’s a manly, punch drunk listen, full of beans and ready to rumble. It may even grow some extra hair on your chest, if you’re into that kind of thing. Goats everywhere should be worried.