This past Monday the riffy beardies Orange Goblin held their album launch at the dingy Black Heart in Camden. We went along to drink a gallon of booze and see if the new music and hold up live...
It’s launch time
You’ve gotta love the Black Heart. One of the few metal bars that appeals to hipsters and where the strength (and the price – annoyingly) of their beer should come with a warning. It’s in their pokey upstairs ‘venue’ that Orange Goblin play their very special album launch show, granted to select lucky buggers that bought the album and t-shirt, and a few industry liggers slowly getting drunk on life-affirming IPA. Coltsblood warm things up, sort of, with the kind of grim doom that is normally reserved for grave diggers with a chip on their shoulder.
There’s room to spread out
Orange Goblin come on and Ben Ward is still bloody massive. It’s just as well because you can’t see the rest of the band on the Black Heart’s regrettably low stage, just the lofty man mountain bellowing into the microphone like Brian Blessed on growth hormones. A quick scan of the room reveals pockets of emptiness. Not in the existentialist sense, it’s just that there aren’t many people here. At least not as many as there should be for the lords of stoner doom. Ah well, they did say it was exclusive.
Things get off to a good start
If you hadn’t grasped it yet the point of tonight is to launch the band’s brand spanking new album Back From The Abyss, another potent slice of rock ‘n’ roll from these beer-sinking Londoners that is possibly their most diverse exploration of styles so far. They kick things off with Sabbath Hex whose lyrics translate much better live than they do through headphones or weedy speakers. Ben croons “If you understand, raise your right hand” and that’s exactly what we do, albeit a hand that’s clutching a pint of the good stuff.
Orange Goblin are real men
Orange Goblin have been gigging for, like, forever. It’s one of those chicken and egg things; they play well because they gig, they get gigs because they are killer live. From the very start they sound awesome, especially Ben who has natural stage presence and commands the stage like a Navajo chief. And since this is the first time they’ve played the new album live they get full points for nailing it. Heavy Lies The Crown sounds particularly meaty, fusing low slung riffs with lyrics that run the gamut of manliness (battle, Valkyrie, Valhalla).
We still prefer the oldies
Back From The Abyss is received with polite applause; they’ve thrown in all the good stuff like towering metal, fuzz-pedal groove and a good dose of blues. But the real test of any new album is to play it alongside the oldies and a climactic encore of Scorpionica, Quincy The Pig Boy and Red Tide Rising gets the punters jostling. It’s too early to really tell if Back From The Abyss will be a career-defining record but after A Eulogy For The Damned, the Goblin have a tough act to follow. But let’s be honest, it’s not about records per se; it’s all about the riffs and the live experience and tonight is just another good reason why everyone needs to see this band rock the hell out. Catch them with St Vitus if you can.