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Scotch, skunk and space with an uptempo kick - 90%

naverhtrad, September 26th, 2014

I always thought of Orange Goblin as being kind of a big deal in British metal circles. The kind of big deal it’s not always easy to persuade me to buy. Even so, it’s really my loss up until now – The Big Black is a damn solid rock ‘n’ roll album. They’re a ‘stoner rock’ band, it seems, but the strong influences of punk and gritty NWoBHM in the Motörhead vein are strong enough for this album particularly to escape that designation somewhat. (Which is not to say, of course, that punk and NWoBHM and even more extreme influences like grindcore are all that rare in ‘stoner metal’. After all, Cathedral exists. Case in point.)

The first two Orange Goblin albums are exceptionally good, but it’s very hard for me to view them as metal, or indeed as anything but early ‘70’s-reminiscent psychedelic rock, wah-wah pedal gratuitousness and all, with plenty of groovy, semi-doomy fuzzed-out hooks and laconic, meandering melodies (some ‘Time Travelling Blues’, anyone?). Which is completely fine. I’d love them at any rate just for being a British rock band in the Blue Cheer tradition. But this is most certainly not so The Big Black.

There is a continuity with Frequencies from Planet Ten and Time Travelling Blues, of course – the wah-wah effects are still there, and you still have the clearing laconic passages which hail directly back to the purple mushroom fish, particularly on some of the slower and heavier tracks. (Listen to how ‘The Big Black’ opens, for example.) But they lay down the rhythm guitar and drum riffs far more heavily and with far more regularity, and take on a much doomier sound as a result, and this is all to the good.

‘Quincy the Warpig’ – sorry, I mean ‘Pigboy’ – is almost straight Motörhead worship, as unsubtle as you can get. And therefore awesome. You’ve got the driving, punkish uptempo rhythm and the falling chords rolling past you at 65 miles per hour ‘down Highway 666’. You even have Ben Ward belting out his whisky-soaked vocals with a Lemmy-esque snarl. This influence shows itself across the entire album (particularly on ‘Scorpionica’, ‘Turbo Effalunt’ and ‘Alcofuel’), but it’s nowhere more apparent than on the second track.

And on the other side you have them reaching straight for the bottom shelf of the retro and doom riff cabinet and rummaging around, resulting in bone-crushingly heavy tracks like ‘Cozmo Bozo’, ‘298 KG’ and ‘The Big Black’ itself – a song which, meandering intro aside, might not be out-of-place on Cathedral’s Forest of Equilibrium. One might think just from my descriptions here that this would result in a schizophrenic sound, but oddly enough the London lads balance them together to brilliant effect. Even songs which are relatively fast can draw on the strengths of the downtuned guitarwork. I’m well-aware that Austrian power metal band Crimson Cult are a much later phenomenon than Orange Goblin, as well as being very different musically (my only possible defence is that I was a Euro-power freak long before getting into doom, retro and stoner rock), but the last place I can think of where a band was able to pull off this kind of solidly-executed kludge of retro and speed was on Tales of Doom – see particularly ‘Coshinja’ and ‘Warrior Son’ for my points of comparison.

Quite honestly, though, this is the sort of album I can keep enjoyably listening to for days on end and never get bored, even when not baked. There isn’t a single skip-worthy track on here, and it’s a welcome shift in a heavier and more uptempo direction from Orange Goblin’s previous work (which is, to reiterate, in its own right quite excellent).

Also, as far as hidden tracks go, one can’t go far wrong with a series of answering-machine messages from a plastered Ben Ward. Cheers, mates!

18 / 20

hell yeah - 84%

ironasinmaiden, April 19th, 2003

Bongs loaded? Check. Lighter in hand? Roger that. Ready for a far out journey, complete with boobs, beer, metal and fucking GROOVES? Damn right you are. Orange Goblin embodies every "stoner rock" cliche', but they are so fucking good at what they do. The Big Black is the better of the two albums I got by em (Frequencies from Planet Ten is slightly tripper, less content)... a raging slab of Kyuss influenced hard rock.

First of all, Ben Ward is a great singer in the classic sense... powerful voice, can't sing a lick and constantly wasted. Opening track Scorpionica is a rootin' tootin hell of a rock song... ditto for Turbo Effalunt and Hot Magic/Red Planet. It's like Sabbath on overdrive with a bit of Iggy thrown in for good measure. And there are RIFFS aplenty and a plethora of clean interludes clearly geared towards the sobriety challenged.

The real highlight is closing track the Big Black... can anybody say DOOM? Heavy as shit in the old school Cathedral style, I was pleasantly suprised.... and stay for the hilarious drunken Ben Ward phone conversation.. funny shit.

Man, if you got a stoner itch let Orange Goblin scratch it. One of the best bands out there keeping the Sabbath dream alive