posted on 7/2011 By:
Long-running stoner outfit Orange Goblin seems an unlikely candidate for the box-set treatment, but courtesy of Metal Blade, they get it nonetheless. Orange Goblin (the box set) is a 5-disc compendium of the band’s first five albums, obviously one disc per record, remastered and repackaged and each one augmented with added bonus tracks. All five of these records were originally released on Rise Above – the band’s home until their shift to Sanctuary for 2007’s Healing Through Fire, which explains that album’s absence from this set. (Rise Above is distributed by Metal Blade in the US.) While guilty of both helping to solidify and subsequently falling victim to stoner-rock clichés, Orange Goblin gets points for early innovation, and regardless, they succeed more often than not through the potent combination of sheer conviction and an undeniable and infectious sense of middle-finger-raised rock’n’roll swagger.
To dissect a five-disc set in deep detail would be too overwhelming an endeavor (or would result in too long a review), but thankfully, as is evident when listening to these five records in chronological order (which I did exactly once), Orange Goblin’s career arc is on ready display. From the band’s hazy beginnings in the psyche-tinged smoky Sabbath riffs and spacey wanderings of Frequencies From The Planet Ten, each consecutive album shifts the band further into the groovy Stönerhead punk-metal of Coup De Grace and Thieving From The House Of God. It’s those latter-day offerings that first piqued my interest in these goons – I was a lucky and very enthusiastic attendee at what will likely be their one and only Nashville show some years back – although I admit that the band found their best balance before I found them, right square in the middle of this collection, right around the time of The Big Black and leading into Coup De Grace…
But I’m getting ahead of myself…
From the beginning, all the requisite stoner-rock pieces are here: mile-wide grooves, Sabbath-inflected riffage that readily incorporates Southern blues-y pentatonic tones, Ben Ward’s whiskey-soaked bellow… But in the beginning, those were interspersed with a drifting sense of psychedelia, from the strings-and-acoustic-guitar mellowness of Planet Ten’s “Lothlorien” to the same album’s “Song Of The Purple Mushroom Fish.” (Howzat for a psychedelic song title, eh?) By the second album, 1998’s Time Travelling Blues, the band had reined in their more space-rock tendencies in favor of some harder-hitting grooves, some bigger riffage, and just an all-around greater sense of “oomph.” That process continued through 2000’s The Big Black, which creatively equals the peak of the band's psyche-stoner-doom, and by the time of 2002’s Coup De Grace and 2004’s Thieving From The House Of God, the band had grooved themselves into something of a cozy little niche: not as anthemic or as head-smashing as High On Fire, nor as straight-ahead punked-up rock’n’roll-times-ten as Motörhead, but somewhere in between, some middle ground of Bomber and Southern-tinged stoner metal, some incarnation of all smoked-out overdriven qualities in one booze-and-bluster band. Most importantly, regardless of era, of psychedelia or punkish punch, tracks like “Blue Snow,” "Turbo Effalunt (Elephant)," “Made Of Rats” and “Some You Win, Some You Lose” just rock, plain and simple, and that’s what matters most.
Of course, stoner-metal connoisseurs will know all this, and they’ll have these records, because, though they weren’t quite originators, Orange Goblin was among the earliest of the British stoner acts, emerging not long after the mighty Electric Wizard. And for those long-time fans already invested in the Goblin, there are three bonus tracks per disc: covers of The Damned, Trouble, and Black Sabbath, plus alternate takes of tunes, live tracks and b-sides. There’s expanded packaging, including notes from the band on the recording of each album. (Note: my digital copy did not include those, so I cannot comment on how informative / interesting / entertaining they are, if at all.) The Goblin’s take on their covers is always solid, if ultimately not particularly brilliant; the bonus tracks ultimately amount to what they are: bonuses. There’s nothing in the bunch that exceed expectations, that augments the existing records in any particularly brilliant fashion, although certainly nothing detracts – they’re merely more of the same for the money, and that’s never a bad thing, I suppose.
So speaking of money, the million-dollar question is: do you need a five-disc box set by Orange Goblin?
Well, maybe – existing fans that already have these records will find the price-tag (anywhere from $30-$60-ish US, according to Google) to be a bit much for fifteen new tunes, new liners and cases and pictures be damned. But for those casual Goblin collectors or stoner-metal aficionados who have yet to take the plunge, this five-disc wrap-up of almost everything the band has recorded is a nice package, and especially so when consumed at the lower end of that pricing spectrum above. Taken across their whole career, Orange Goblin is quite literally the consummate stoner-metal band, in that they exhibit each of the tendencies of the style – smoky groove, boozy bellow, hazy drift, raucous drive. As such, they could be viewed as generic, but to do so is to belittle them unreasonably: unlike, say, Monster Magnet, they’ve never released a boring record (though they have taken to interchangeable ones), but in time, they’ve been beaten soundly at their own game by the likes of High On Fire.
An overwhelming undertaking, these five discs taken as a whole, but a worthy band and some damn respectable tunes for those in need of that certain kind of whiskey-and-weed swaggering riff-metal… Not a must-own set, but a failure to familiarize oneself with this band is tantamount to stoner-metal heresy, so for those tokers and smokers who have yet to dig in, here’s a giant hit of quality doom, wrapped up nice and neat.
Register to post comments.