Review Summary: Fly into the psychedelic glow.
Formed in 1994 in London, originally calling themselves Our Haunted Kingdom
, Orange Goblin took on their current name after releasing a split EP with Electric Wizard
in 1995. While they functioned as a six piece on this record, keyboard player Duncan Gibbs would appear only on this album, while second guitarist Pete O'Malley departed from the band after their fifth record, Thieving From the House of God
Orange Goblin (currently) is:
Ben Ward - vocals
Joe Horri - guitar
Martyn Millard - bass
Chris Turner - drums
Frequencies from Planet Ten
is quite an interesting listen, especially to those who're only familiar with the band's later work, where the psychedelic influences are significantly toned down. Nevertheless, this is classic Orange Goblin and blends psychedelic rock, doom, and stoner jams exceedingly well. Later albums would show that a more focused direction would result in some of the band's best work. The lyrics found here come off as drug-induced, 'high' fantasy poetry, especially in Orange Goblin
, which also contains one of the catchiest riffs found on this album.
The production on this record sounds professional, with the guitars being loud, clean, and appropriately crushing when needed. Ben Ward's trademark vocals feel a bit underpowered and effect-heavy at times, while Millard barely makes his presence known throughout the album. The drumming is quite solid, but nothing fancy, and unfortunately suffers from feeling a bit flat and underwhelming at points. The song structures found here are somewhat varied, though half of them are merely styled up versions of the verse-chorus-verse build.
From the opening seconds of The Astral Project
, you'll already have a pretty fair idea of what this record is going to be. The opener contains elements of psychedelic, stoner rock, and even a bit of pop appeal, all coming together beautifully. The main riff is simplistic and memorable, with a vocal melody that one can't help but hum along to. Both the verses and chorus are among the album's best lyrical offerings, while the music serves as an example of genre-blending done right.
The other tracks follow suit with blending various styles, with Magic Carpet
being decidedly psychedelic rock while Saruman's Wish
brings some mid-paced doom riffs. Land of Secret Dreams
feels like a hybrid of the two, while adding a few quiet moments and soft vocals. Aquatic Fanatic
is an upbeat, almost headbang-able tune which opens and closes with wave crashes and is among the album's strongest tracks.
The two instrumental tracks, Song of the Purple Mushroom Fish
feel like filler material rather than interludes. The former is a slow, repetitive, echoed guitar mixed with some ambient synths and sounds like something heard at a head shop, while the latter feels out of place with its synthesized strings coupled with a simple acoustic riff.
The closer, Star-Shaped Cloud
, is probably the album's loosest, trippiest moment. Ward's soft vocals don't bring anything terribly interesting to the table, but they don't detract either. Still, the song is great if you're in the right mood, and feels like an appropriate end to the record. After about ninety seconds of silence there is also a "secret" track, which is nothing more than a minute of what seems to be the band while at a gig in a pub.
Overall, this is a great first effort from an excellent band, though at times it feels that they were struggling to find a sound and stick with it. That said, most of what the band attempts to do on this record passes with flying, swirling, LSD induced colors, though later albums would prove to be less psychedelic sounding and focused on more concrete, melodic songwriting. This is a record that merits a listen from just about anybody interested in hard/stoner rock, and fans of Kyuss
and Electric Wizard
will especially want to check this one out.
The Astral Project
Land of Secret Dreams