What do we have here? Why, it appears to be a vinyl re-release of Healing Through Fire, the 2007 bruiser from UK stoner metal legends Orange Goblin!
Featuring two tracks recorded live at the BBC Maida Vale studio for the Radio One Rock Show, the re-release is brought to us courtesy of Candlelight Records.
Writers of swaggering grooves and bollock-destroying riffs, Orange Goblin have certainly earned the respect of many on the UK metal scene, and its easy to see why. Blinding live shows, infectious rhythms, enormous presence and the willingness to experiment with other genres while never losing the sound that defined them. 2012’s A Eulogy For The Damned is arguably their finest moment, capturing all of the above sentiments perfectly with fantastic production and exemplary writing.
So where does that leave Healing Through Fire? The only release from the band while signed to Sanctuary records, the album is loosely inspired by the great plague of London and the fire that followed it. Opening with the intensely catchy The Ballad Of Solomon Eagle and its incredible chorus, the stripped down, raw production will be familiar and welcoming to fans of old.
Listeners who aren’t familiar with the loose, sludgy vibes that Orange Goblin are famed for flirting with run the risk of being alienated, but perseverance is definitely rewarded. The bear like roar of Ben Ward is present most of the time, with the occasional side step into to early Clutch-esque vocals as heard on the track Cities Of Frost. The vocals aren’t perfect, but they are raw, pissed off and real, blending aggression and melody to great effect above expressive and atmospheric riffs. There’s definitely no auto tune to be found here.
Tracks such as Vagrant Stomp and They Come Back have become a staple of the live set and for good reason. Immediately engaging and anthemic, drenched in alcoholic attitude and moshable aggression they are laced with those insanely catchy chorus’s that permeate the majority of the albums tracks. There is the occasional step away from the doom and stoner sound of their earlier material, replacing it with subtly psychedelic, rock ‘n’ roll that has nods towards Motorhead and Sabbath. While there are plenty of influences on display here, it never strays to far from the recognisable Orange Goblin identity.
The Ale House Braves has an immediately classic feel, reminiscent of classic rock injected with anarchic attitude. Hot Knives And Open Sores rolls along with a very heavy stoner groove that wouldn’t be out of place on the album that preceded this one, Thieving From The House Of God. Mort Lake is an oasis of peace amidst the chaos and demonstrates again the bands ability to experiment with other genres, while the Beginners Guide To Suicide does the same and is a surprisingly experimental and intelligent track to end the album with.
Throughout the entirety of Healing Through Fire there’s a multitude of obvious influences that can occasionally cause the record to meander, while never totally derailing it. The material on this album is some of the strongest in Orange Goblins almost two decade long career making the decision to re-issue on vinyl understandable, although I know there will be some who disagree. The production might put off some newcomers and the experimentation may confuse hardcore fans, regardless this is an important album that offers an eclectic line up of well written and powerful songs.
A broad selection of the tracks that define one of the UK’s best stoner metal bands.
With the inclusion of two live tracks this reissue is a great purchase for fans old and new. A great album to start with despite being a little less accessible than their later material.