Orange Goblin get the reissue treatment from Cherry Red Records for their sixth album, Healing Through Fire; remastered and expanded with a wealth of live goodies.
Release Date: 20th August 2021
Label: Cherry Red Records
Format: 2CD / Digital
Orange Goblin have been a mainstay of the metal scene for around two and a half decades. Frequencies From Planet Ten was released in 1997 and since then, they have gone from strength to strength with each release. Healing Through Fire was the sixth release for the band and marked a decade in recorded material with its original release in 2007.
Originally, this album was the bands first for Sanctuary Records, and their first that wasn’t released by Lee Dorrian’s Rise Above Records. Upon release, a limited edition came with a DVD of a live show from London’s Mean Fiddler recorded in 2006. For disc two of this reissue, the audio of this show is included. It contains some of the bands true big hitters in Quincy The Pigboy, Scorpionica, Blue Snow and Round Up The Horses. If you want the true essence of Orange Goblin in the live environment then this will tick the boxes. It is raw; very raw. Pangs of feedback, wah-wah for days, crushing riffs aplenty and rhythms to die for. On top of all that, there is Ben Ward’s inimitable style of gritty vocals.
In addition to the live set, there is a BBC Session from the era, as well as demo versions of songs including New Rose which has a real punk vibe in its delivery. It’s reminiscent of Di’Anno era Maiden and wipes the floor with you in its short two and a bit minute duration.
As for the studio album that precedes the extras, Healing Through Fire was another step along Orange Goblin’s rise to kings of the underground scene in the UK. Being their sixth album in ten years, Healing Through Fire tightens up on previous releases and showcases a band brimming with confidence.
Opening the album is The Ballad Of Solomon Eagle; it immediately pricks up the ears. Vagrant Stomp and The Ale House Braves bring the fire that only Orange Goblin possess; and there is a genuine fire in every aspect of this album from the title, to the lyrics to the music.
The Ale House Braves is an early highlight of this record. AC/DC style speed meshed with elements of thrash and a killer solo all demonstrate the wild melting pot that Orange Goblin had going on. Some might say this was a departure for the band as they tried to move away from their stoner/doom tag. That being said, Cities Of Frost plays to the doomier tag a little with slower chugging riffs. ‘If this isn’t hell, it’s the next best thing,’ scowls Ward. Wonderful.
Hot Knives & Open Sores still bothers the setlist for the band live and you can see why. Monolithic guitars and bass take centre stage as the drums underpin a brilliantly varied piece. The middle section of the song degenerates into a little slice of horror; ‘Surgeons busy, doing surgeons chores’ comes the sinister lyric atop creepy slide guitar and rolling bass before another explosion of that unflinching sound of the guitars.
Hounds Ditch is a harder and harsher number that instils a serious groove into proceedings. It’s essentially the title track as the albums title comes from the lyrics and owes a debt to the bloody history of London. Juxtaposed with the hard is the soft. Mortlake (Dead Water) offers an acoustic interlude before the closing double header.
And what a double header it is. They Come Back (Harvest Of Skulls) is one of Orange Goblin’s perennial songs. It sums up in so many ways what Orange Goblin are about; there is their unique musical style, foreboding, horror laden vocals and sections where you know a live audience are going to sing back lyrics whilst simultaneously banging their heads in unison. The mid song tempo change speeds thing up and would once again go on to be one of those crowd pleasing songs. A glorious solo helps round the track out.
In a world of digital streaming, the track that closes out Healing Through Fire is Beginners Guide To Suicide; a song that is the bands most played song on Spotify (current count is at just over 2.6 million plays). In a departure for the band, they incorporate harmonica, lap steel and a freeform jam in the song that snakes through the synapses. The bass is menacing as the song grows and coalesces into something truly brilliant; like some sort of outlaw blues jam.
Healing Through Fire is a brilliant record and one that steered the good ship Orange Goblin in a different direction. It was a step up on a different label, which opened up so many doors for the band. Tours with Heaven & Hell, Solace and Clutch ensued over the following years. It was five years until they released Eulogy For The Damned after this, but that record pushed the band even further. Healing Through Fire is a genuine stepping stone and an absolute gem in a back catalogue littered with them.