Orange Goblin are among my favourite champions of fully leaded, four-star hair rock. The reasons for this are manifold, but the major one is that they’re bleeding loud. In order to achieve his trademark rubble-throated bellow, rumour has it that walking adam’s apple Ben Ward uses a motorcycle wheel for a pillow. Grooves as thick as your average Facebook friend are sandwiched between kick and snare drums and then battered with relentless cruelty, practically drowning under a wash of cymbal.
Because Orange Goblin have an instantly recognisable sound – that of a bull entering a chainsaw factory on its back via mudslide – I guess it’s easy to overlook the intricacies of the work, of which I assure you there are several.
A Eulogy for the Damned is a record that comes in three distinct flavours, all united by a heavy reliance on swing time that chucks in a fairly substantial touch of the nautical. There’s a pacey, aggressive bit at the beginning. There’s two sing-along anthems back-to-back. And then there’s the second half of the album, which strikes out for the rolling intensity of the openers, but ends up foundering, sucked into a swamp soaked with venomous bathtub lysergic. In a good way, I mean.
These three broad thematic chunks hang together as a whole like ragged hocks of a newly-butchered pig, driving the listener onward to the album’s fading crescendo among warm hammond tones and melodic high-register ‘oohs’. Along the way we play with scale models of the winding, hypnotic, repetitious structures that are a hallmark of heavy psych, and come out feeling like we’ve taken a trip.
The album closer – and title track – is the clear highlight. Acoustic chords strike sparks against the ascending electric leads, hung sparsely across a hopping drum groove, and it sounds a bit like someone’s taken a muck spreader to one of Josh Hommie-rhymes-with-Mommy’s fabled desert ‘generator parties’ that he probably totally made up anyway. Then in comes Mr Singer with a groaning tequila-soaked baritone last heard in the vicinity of Jay Jarosz on the first Karma to Burn album. Shortly, they go back to straight up Gobbling Oranges. It’s a subtle shift, but still a brilliant one. The same effect is heard on Save Me from Myself which blooms from dust into a beer-sloshing chorus I doubt Terrorvision would have turned down. The lyrics sound a bit cheesy, mind, but I genuinely couldn’t give one shit about that, never mind two. Not at my time of life.
Cheesy and predictable lyric issues crop up again during Stand for Something, bridging the gap between the manic Acid Trial and record opener Red Tide Rising – which washes up on deck, thrashing about like a horny tiger shark. The guitar escapes straight up the mast, while the bass piddles about playing ballet dancer in the rigging. And then, in the spirit of shattering this paragraph across my fucking knee and hurling the stinging shards directly into your faces, the whole thing hits choppy water, and starts going up and down like a shitty literary image in a patch of rough metaphor.
The point is I like it. It’s a pretty easy thing to recommend, actually, and I feel as if I could have just written the following sentence and called this review done: A Eulogy for the Damned is my idea of a thoroughly good record because it’s busy, it’s dense, it’s loud and it’s satisfyingly heavy.