Hell's teeth. If you thought Orange Goblin were some sort of throwback stoner Metal band peddling used Sabbath offcuts and blokey, beer-fixated sixth form lyrics then after one listen to this, the band's seventh album (and their first in four years, following a gestation period that would have had an Elephant screaming for the induction stirrups), you'll need to be recalibrating your judgement settings and looking at the band in a new light.
The first couple of tracks don't even sound like a stoner band (or, as they've been rebranded these days, 'doom'), with 'Red Tide Rising' and 'Stand For Something' both parading the kind of classy songwriting smarts displayed by Motorhead in their glory days. This is serious stuff, and as statements of intent go these are pretty bloody clear – OG in 2012 means business.
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'Acid Trial' is a bit more workaday, and this reviewer will certainly be able to live without it, but the band get back on track with the furious blast that is 'The Filthy And The Few', a breakneck anthem that gets the blood pumping and the hackles raised. If anything the brevity of this track is a disappointment, though it certainly does break up the mid paced feel of what's gone before.
'Save Me From Myself' follows this pattern, being a bluesy trawl through a musical southland of legend that is as welcome as it is surprising – the band's touch being utterly Midas-like during these recording sessions it seems – with vocalist Ben Ward rumbling through his lower registers in admirable (if slightly latter-day Anselmo) style. Whetever – the whole thing works.
'The Fog' is more what we've come to expect from this band; a grimily retro freakout that reaches a high cruising speed quickly and then doesn't let up until your senses have been summarily battered into submission. Familiarity does often breed contempt – but not here.
'Return To Mars' eases off on the quality a little, and 'The Death Of Aquarius' adds to the feeling that the album is tailing off a little as we near the end. Neither of these tracks are out-and-out stinkers – far from it – but they both struggle to complete with some of the high quality output presented to the listener already.
However any misgivings you may be having are promptly dismissed by the excellent 'The Bishop's Wolf', which sees the band heading back into that classic Motorhead seam they mined so successfully at the start of the album; the swing and the sass boom out of the speakers.
The album is rounded out by the ambitious title track which sees the band stretching out imperiously into a seventies classic-rock style long fadeout, putting a grand album to bed in suitably grand style. Not consistently high grade, then, but this is an incredibly strong release from one of Britain's most enduring Metal outfits.
Well worth a listen.
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