A bit of a gear change now from the cosmic and flighty to the, well, you decide:
Crawl through the blood
Crawl through the grit
Crawl through the filth
Crawl through the shit
Crawl through the pain
Crawl through the spit
And if it ain’t broke, you gotta break it!
Oh yes. As subtle as a chainmail fist, Orange Goblin Thieving From the House of God is a full-on metal affair. Cut in 2004 and released on Rise Above Records in beautiful orange vinyl (of course), always one of my favourite labels, this is the one where Orange Goblin ditched their stoner affectations (Time Travelling Blues) and their punk metal flirtations (Coup de Grace) and just concentrated on all-out, pretty straight-ahead bare-chested shouty metal. The only problem is I liked them a bit more during both those incarnations.
Don’t get me wrong there’s a definite virtue sometimes in the bludgeoning heads-down rock showcased here. If you are/were any sort of metalhead you have to like ‘Some You Win, Some You Lose’, the brilliantly-titled ‘One Room, One Axe, One Outcome’, ‘If It Ain’t Broke’ and /or the posse-tastic ‘Round Up The Horses’. They all pack a wallop and get the job done admirably. But where this LP comes a bit unstuck is twofold, a) I think the production is a bit too murky, there’s not enough variation in dynamics at all and b) a bit of uninspired song writing along the way; oh and c) the front cover’s not great, all the family and band pics in the gatefold are cool though.
The biggest diversion from their formula sound is the use of contrasting female vocals on ‘Black Egg’, although Sarah Shanahan doesn’t pipe up until near the end and the lyrics are of the mean mistreating woman variety, it does make a change. There’s also the punky ‘Tosh Lines’ on the second side. But, just before the sprawling, unappealing ‘Crown of Locusts’* Orange Goblin break one of the 1537 Commandment #6:
Thou shalt not, nor cause to happen through your inaction, allow your band to cover any AC/DC, or ZZ Top song. lest you be sneered at by some punk-ass reviewer who’s never played a note in his life. Verily.
Well, they couldn’t say they weren’t warned. Orange Goblin turn in a near note-for-note cover of ZZ Top’s ‘Just Got Paid’. Why? bands often seem to cover AC and ZZ, possibly because their music is so deceptively simple (and brilliant), but all that ever happens is that unless a band really does something weird and interesting with it, the cover just shows how damn good the original is by comparison** – much more so than with most bands. For all their metal muscle horsepower Orange Goblin’s version lacks the lean menace of the original.
I’ve never managed to see Orange Goblin live, they always seemed to be playing on just the wrong date for me to catch them, so I’ve no idea whether it was just the unimaginative production that hamper these tracks; or whether they’re just not quite good enough. The former I hope.
Still, if you’re in the mood for a chainmail fist in the face, find ‘Some You Win, Some You Lose’ and hit play. Simple as.
*no thanks, I’ll just stick to a nice metal one for now.
**I make an exception for Motörhead’s ‘No Class’, which is so close to ZZ Top’s ‘Tush’ it’s all but a cover in name.