Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Review: Orange Goblin - A Eulogy for the Damned (2012)

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A Eulogy for the Damned

Orange Goblin - A Eulogy for the Damned
It's been five years since Orange Goblin's last studio release, and for a couple of those years it looked as though the follow-up to Healing Through Fire would never see the light of day. Finally, though, the wait is at an end as the British rockers unleash A Eulogy for the Damned. The extra years seem to have benefited the band, and frontman Ben Ward in particular, as A Eulogy for the Damned is a roughly polished gem of fuzzy Southern doom rock fit for brawling from Birmingham (UK) to Biloxi (MS).

Ward's vocal style, while still whiskey-fueled and belligerent, is a bit more finely tuned on this album than on previous releases. Maximizing his limited range, Ward dabbles with alternative delivery methods to add a touch more melody and emotion to a couple of tracks on the album. "Save Me From Myself", which has the potential to be a new Southern rock anthem, finds Ward dropping much of his trademark gruffness and really giving his all on a beer-raising sing-along chorus. On the title track, Ward closes out A Eulogy for the Damned with a clean, bluesy vocal performance that meshes well with the stripped down riffs and classic rock leads.

Orange Goblin
The six-string contributions, shared by Ward and Joe Hoare, are also notably improved on this album. Still mostly shrouded in bottom-end distortion, the riffs occasionally emerge into the sunlight to offer up a tantalizing lead or a Skynryd-esque solo. "Save Me From Myself" stands out once more in this regard, with slow-cooked bluesy riffs bolstered by Southern-fried leads and solos demanding comparison to the classic days of Molly Hatchet and Blackfoot. Elsewhere, the stoner effect is in full force as the swirling riffs of "Red Tide Rising" combine with the majestic doom of "The Fog" as a testament to Orange Goblin's status as one of the style's contemporary leaders.

A Eulogy for the Damned is not without a bit of experimentation on the band's part, however. While the Hammond organ provides a nice touch to the title track and "Bishop's Wolf", among others, "Acid Trial" introduces some complex time signatures and some rather progressive riff patterns that are a little out of step with the rest of the album. The song is interesting and certainly menacing with its dark tone, but slightly distracting. I'll definitely take the processed ZZ Top vocals and '70s funk rock of "Return to Mars" over prog noodling any day.

Orange Goblin's A Eulogy for the Damned is perhaps the band's most mature effort to date, but it's still a beer swilling knife fight waiting to happen. There's no better illustration of that attitude than the indignant, anti-authority rant from the 1969 biker flick Satan's Sadists which opens "The Filthy and the Few". Right on.

Track Listing
1Red Tide Rising5:44
2Stand for Something4:42
3Acid Trial5:08
4The Filthy and the Few4:27
5Save Me From Myself6:53
6The Fog7:40
7Return to Mars3:21
8Death of Aquarius6:43
9Bishop's Wolf5:34
10A Eulogy for the Damned8:12
Total Runtime58:24

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