Review Summary: A solid, if unmemorable, release from a veteran stoner rock act
In the beginning there were two notable stoner-rock scenes. The more famous one took place in the great Californian desert, which spawned the likes of Kyuss, Fu Manchu, and Sleep. The other came from England and spawned most notably Electric Wizard and Orange Goblin
(the band we are discussing today). While the American scene was first noticed, the English one soon followed; and both mutually grew until the 2000’s when the genre caught international appeal and scenes started popping up in places like Germany, Sweden, Russia, and most recently Greece.
The main reason I bring up that quick history is to underscore that Orange Goblin and their fellow Brits Electric Wizard are a pretty big deal in the stoner-rock world. I also bring it up to justify why comparing this to Wizard’s Time to Die
which came out just last month is unavoidable for me, as the two bands essentially spearheaded the whole stoner rock scene in England and it would be inadequate to discuss said scene without making reference to either the brooding atmospheric Sabbath-worship of the Wizard, or the groovy nighttime motorbike cruising of the Goblin. Over the years, Electric Wizard have been a constantly changing entity, out of their entire discography(following the release of Dopethrone
) no two albums have sounded like they were from the same band. And with September’s Time to Die
they only continued their ever constant metamorphosis with their eschewing of their stoner rock influences altogether for a traditional doom metal sound. Orange Goblin’s journey on the other hand can be compared to a non-stop trip down an interstate road, the terrain around it changes, but you're still cruising down the same road throughout the course of the journey. In other words: Orange Goblin's music has pretty much remained the same throughout the course of their discography. This brings us to Back From The Abyss
, Which shows exactly why it is a bad idea to keep using the same sound over and over again for a course of 20 years.
The main problem with Back From The Abyss
is that it simply doesn’t have much of its own unique flavor, many of the tracks sound like they can be released under the names of other bands and listeners wouldn’t tell the difference. A lot of the songs happen to have a generic feel to them, and while that shouldn’t be a problem for listeners of Orange Goblin, it happens to be so when it comes to this album because those tracks just aren’t very good. Songs like “The Devil’s Whip” end up sounding dull despite the amount of energy put forth by the members because they don’t have anything else to back them up other than that energy. Similar problems arise with “Demon Blues”, which carries a nice beat, but does nothing to distinguish itself from other Goblin songs, or even songs by other bands. Ben Ward, with all due respect, is a talented vocalist, but thanks to the production his voice becomes more audible than the riffs themselves, which turns what could've been the best part of the album-the riffs- into something rather unmemorable and also leads to his voice becoming more of an actual nuisance than it has with any previous Orange Goblin record.
There do happen to be a couple good tracks here-and-there though, particularly in the second half with the furiously paced “Bloodzilla” and the supremely groovy “The Abyss”. However, there are a flurry of semi-decent tracks that might bore the listeners before they even reach said songs, which is quite unfortunate. At the same time while the guitar work is definitely great, the production makes it a lot less interesting due to putting greater emphasis on Ben Ward’s vocals which in turn makes them grate after a while. Back From the Abyss
had the potential to be a much better album, especially since it comes from a group of veterans like Orange Goblin themselves. However, the flurry of mediocre tracks and production issues truly mar the impact of this album.