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Healing Through Fire is Orange Goblin's 6th studio album and the follow up to the superb Thieving From The House Of God (2004). A few changes happened for the band in the last couple of years. Founder member and guitarist Pete O'Malley left the band, and with the release of Coup De Grace and Thieving... the band had polarized fans. There were the fans who loved the first three stoner doom styled albums and fans of the more recently styled Stoner punk style. The band also seperated from long time label Rise Above to sign on to Sanctuary Records.
Now then, Thieving... was a terrific record. Combining the band's original Stoner/ Doom sound with Motorhead type rock n roll and a love for bluesy hard rock, the band went out on a limb and pulled off an utterly captivating album. Three years on, the band has returned with Healing Through Fire.
Healing Through Fire starts with the chunky groove of The Ballad of Solomon Eagle. The band seems quite in love with Lynyrd Skynyrd and American Southern Rock and a corresponding love for Zeppelin and Purple. Third song on the album The Ale House Braves in fact sounds quite a bit like Zeppelin before going off into a classic heavy metal part. Cities Of Frost is a mid-tempo rumbling monster that sounds quite unpleasant and vaguely reminds me of early Trouble before a typically raucous Orange Goblin riff takes over. Ward actually sounds a bit like Eric Wagner on this song in one of the verses. Hot Knives and Open Sores is a heavy stoner friendly song that sounds like it could have been on Thieving.. and the song has a terrific middle section with a thick rumbling bass part. Very nice. Hounds Ditch owes a debt to American Southern Rock and I think Corrosion Of Conformity in particular with an intro that could have easily been on that bands Deliverance album. Still, this album transcends its influences. Sure, The Goblin on Healing Through Fire may remind you of their influences every now and again but right from the moment you hit play, the band make sure that you know this is an Orange Goblin record first. The punk influences in fact seem completely streamlined into the sound of the band. It's like Orange Goblin has just integrated all of its influences superbly and what the listener is left with is a band that is way more than the sum of its disparate parts.
Mortlake (Dead Water) is a short acoustic instrumental piece that serves as a breather between the non-stop groove rush of the rest of the album.
This though is the calm before the storm as the album moves onto its best part. They Come Back (Harvest of Skulls) is a terrific rocker. Mid tempo like most of the album, the song has a super groove and vocal line before taking off into old school thrash goodness in the second half of the song. A guitar lead that's all 80s metal hits you before the band goes back to the opening groovy riff. The album finally closes with the eight minute plus Beginners Guide To Suicide. Starting off with some mellow blues guitar the band lock into a laid back groove with vocalist Ben Ward sounding a bit like Tom Waits in the softer sections. Sublime blues licks abound on this song. There's even the inclusion of a harmonica on the song and the result is nothing short of stoner heaven. Especially the harmonica- guitar jam that starts at about the five minute mark. If you though Black Egg (from Thieving... ) was as creative as this band could get, then think again because Beginners Guide To Suicide is some of the most chilled out groovy and inspired rock n roll I've heard in a while.
The Goblin has over the years developed a style of music all their own. You can spot the classic influences of Sabbath, Purple and Zeppelin and at the same time you get the thick fat riffs, the dirty bluesy grooves, bits of American Southern Rock, bits of Motorhead and the Stooges and the occasional, pure metal onslaught. Transcending influences and becoming a truly original act in the realm of stoner music is a bit of a difficult task. Especially when just about every stoner rock band today is mining the legacy of Black Sabbath. Still, Orange Goblin have now hit that rarefied atmosphere that the likes of Clutch and CoC inhabit. They may be a part of the stoner rock realm but not limited to the constraints of the genre.
With Healing Through Fire, Orange Goblin has hit a new level. Just a terrific album.