"A Eulogy For The Damned"


Orange Goblin have had one of the most colorful career's (stylistically speaking) than most bands. From their early days bashing out psychedelic, stoner-metal and doom on albums that have now become classics in the genre such as 'Frequencies from Planet Ten' released in 1997, 'Time Travelling Blues' released a year later and 2000's 'The Big Black.' In between those albums they released a couple of underrated gems like the 'Nuclear Guru' single and the split they did with Electric Wizard which included the Black Sabbath masterpiece 'Hand of Doom.' Move forward a couple of years and 2002's 'Coup De Grace' signaled a change of style and pace as they became more of a straight-out punky heavy-metal band but with the sprinkling of the old stoner, doom tendencies. The following two albums saw an even bigger shift in that direction with the 'Thieving from the House of God' and 'Healing Through Fire' albums.

The gradual mutation from psychedelic stoner and doom metal to the more metallic and punk-metal crossover sound upset some old fans but it excited more than it disappointed. One of the things that have made Orange Goblin so great is they are churned out these great albums with a minimum of fuss and fanfare, basically just delivering the goods year after year and never losing an alcohol fueled beat along the way. Considering the amount of touring they have done over their almost 17 years as a band and their amazing, consistent high-quality album releases, they deserve to go down in history as one of the most important bands in the entire stoner-metal, doom-metal, and British heavy-metal scenes.

Now it has been a hellish five-year wait for this new album since they released 'Healing through Fire' back in 2007 so of course, hitting play on 'A Eulogy for the Damned' for the first time was a bit nerve-racking. A lot can happen in 5 years and seeing as they have gone through some changes stylistically in the past then who knows what this is going to sound like , right? I am glad to say, they have stayed true to form and this isn't that far removed from the past 2 or 3 albums. There are some minor surprises but those surprises are all good news. The only noticeable difference is in the way this album has been produced and it has raised some minor question marks in my mind but I must stress, I mean very minor. When you first hit play on the opening track, 'Red Tide Rising' you are greeted with a cleaner sounding Goblin in full flight. The album was recorded by Jamie Dodd at The Animal Farm in London and it sounds great but it also sounds cleaner, more streamlined, and with less grunt and crunch. However with this change comes a more, dare I say , classy Orange Goblin but it is no let-down, they actually seem better off for it. Along with the cleaner sound also comes a more melodic sensibility from all concerned...even Ben Ward's vocals have a melodic edge to them that I don't think I have ever heard from the man before.

'Red Tide Rising' is one of the albums longer tracks but it is also brimming with non-stop energy that doesn't let up. This is classic Goblin and this opening track would have fitted on any of their other albums as an opening track too. It will also make an excellent show-stopper or show-starter at their future live shows. The following 'Stand for Something' keeps the energy going, the band running at full gear and bursting with groove. 'Acid Trial' and 'The Filthy & the Few' signals a highpoint for the album, in particular 'The Filthy & the Few' which is a gem of a track about the band themselves and the people who support them. This is a short, typical biker-metal kind of Orange Goblin anthem but it will get stuck in your head... great tune. The album then unleashes two mini-epics with 'Save Me from Myself' which is another tune high on grooves and 'The Fog' which is another insanely infectious tune. However these two being a lot longer than the rest are a bit more demanding on the listener, the songs are catchy but not as concise and to the point like some of the other compositions.

One of the surprises that I was hinting at earlier is this is a more of a return to the psychedelic, stoner, riff-rock style of their early albums on a few of the songs and there is no other song that best displays this than 'Return to Mars.' This song could have come straight off 'The Big Black' so anyone missing the style of early Goblin will surely eat  this tune and others up with heads-down and rocking glee. Moving onto track eight and 'Death of Aquarius,' the quality songwriting and performance keeps on coming and the next tune, 'Bishop’s Wolf' is another highlight with the band at full-tilt. Killer hooks, guitar solos and Ward's vocals are charismatic as usual, this song is another winner. The album ends on the title track, 'A Eulogy for the Damned' where the band pull out all the stops for a track that blends acoustic guitars, a strong melodic build-up, and pulverizing heavy passages to round out the album on a high-note.

When you listen to 'A Eulogy for the Damned' some of the tracks tend to blow past you at first, especially the shorter ones like 'Return to Mars' and 'The Filthy and the Few' but several listens later and they become like old-friends. The impact of the album is such that is seems to finish way sooner than its playing time suggests which is of course a sign of strong, tight songwriting. Good albums should seem short because it proves nothing is dragging on way beyond what it should and ideas are not being bled to death just to fill an album. The playing on this album is their most mature to date also, especially in the solo work of Joe Hoare who puts on a dazzling display on many of the tracks. I would have to say this is their best album since my personal favorite Goblin record , 2000's The Big Black', but perhaps more importantly it is like the perfect balance between that album and 'Healing Through Fire' which ensures this should be a winner in the ears and eyes of all Goblin fans, both old and new.

It is interesting to see how much they have changed and reinvented themselves since they released 'Frequencies From Planet Ten' back in 1997. Listening to this new album and that début back to back is a eye-opening experience when you hear how much they have improved as musicians and songwriters, not that there was much wrong with them to start with but the Goblin in 2011 is a highly professional, well-drilled machine with musicians that are now polished perfectionists in their playing and songwriting. They are already a major influence on many bands but I have a feeling in years to come, this will be the album that people will look back on as their masterpiece.  At this early stage of the game, the only band that could come close or better it is Saint Vitus so that gives you a clue on how good this is.....9.5/10.