Review: Orange Goblin – Back From The Abyss

Location: London, England
Genre: Stoner Metal
Released: October 7, 2014
Format Reviewed: FLAC
Feature: Global Conquest – Recent Releases

By: Kris Kotlarik

If you were to get into a conversation with a stoner metal enthusiast about the influencing bands of the genre, Orange Goblin is certain to come up. With twenty years and eight full albums under their belts, there is little question of their staying power. Their second album, Time Travelling Blues, is among the genre’s classics, while most of their albums have a number of solid tracks on them.

Fast forward to 2014, and we have another solid if unspectacular album by the groove veterans. My main gripe with Orange Goblin’s work tend to be with the vocals. They’re not bad by any means; if you like Motörhead then Orange Goblin should be accessible because the vocal styles are actually quite similar (if not slightly more monotonous here). The problem is that the vocals tend to drown out the instrumentals in the mix. If I’m listening to stoner metal, the vocals are more of a complement to the grooving riffs that often come out of this genre. And unfortunately, the vocals are just too loud once again. In spite of the vocal mix, which is especially obtrusive on “Demon Blues,” the album itself is still solid. The first three tracks are of the uptempo variety. The opener, “Sabbath Hex,” is great and the band sounds very cohesive.

But Orange Goblin really shines when their songs get longer, as that allows them to explore more with their music. For some bands, longer songs can be a tedious listen, but I always look forward to what these guys can do with longer tracks. The two longest tracks, “Heavy Lies The Crown” and “Into The Arms Of Morpheus,” are far and away this album’s best. The former is especially dynamic, starting with a minute-long guitar jam and completely changes gears about two-thirds of the way through, kicking up the energy drastically. “Morpheus,” on the other hand, starts with almost thirty seconds of pure, unadulterated bass guitar before another lengthy instrumental groove commences. Both tracks have extremely interesting riffs, a relative rarity in this genre, that are explored in a way that keeps the listener engaged throughout their combined thirteen and-a-half minutes.

In contrast, “The Devil’s Whip,” clocking in at 2:15, is a decent track but doesn’t develop into anything substantial. In between these two extremes are the rest of the album, which contains no bad songs. “Mythical Knives” would be among the best tracks if not for the vocal mix. “Bloodzilla” is the album’s fastest track by a wide margin and is worth a listen on that basis alone, and becomes even better when it slows down towards the end. The lyrical themes of fantasy and travel are rather typical for this band, although “Heavy Lies The Crown” could almost be mistaken as an introspective number.

If you’re looking for a stoner metal band that you don’t have to be high to enjoy, the conversation should start with Orange Goblin; I consider this album to be slightly better than its predecessor, Eulogy For The Damned. I enjoyed that effort for a couple listens but it was a little slow for my taste and I haven’t visited it as much lately. I have little doubt that I will be revisiting this one.

Overall: Would be deserving of a nomination for the albums of the year list if not for the vocal mix. 

Rating: 3.5*

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