When I hear someone say “Orange Goblin” the first two things that pop into my mind are Hulk Hogan and Donald Trump. But, Orange Goblin is also the name of a very popular doom-stoner band from the United Kingdom.
And I’ll be looking at their second album today.
What can I say about Orange Goblin’s 1998 album Time Traveling Blues?
Not a lot.
It’s not terrible. It’s not spectacular. It’s just a run-of-the-mill doom metal album. Though, at times I am really reluctant to call it “metal.”
If you see the album, you’ll notice that its cover art is akin to that period of the late ’70s and early ’80s when biker chicks were the thing. But even here, the cover kind of gives you a feeling of bland, as the woman and the bike are from a poor quality photo and the backdrop is little more than a desert and the band’s logo. It just kind of makes you think “that totally makes me feel indifferent.”
And that’s how I feel about this album.
The tunes range from Sabbathy to southern rock in flavor. But, they lack that extra rough edge that you’d find with bands like Cathedral, Sleep or Electric Wizard. It’s kind of listening to a cover band specializing in late 70s music trying to write songs to fill in the gap between say “Paranoid” and “Free Bird.”
This lack of identity may be because of the band’s short existence at that time. Orange Goblin was founded in 1995 and had already had one other album before Time Traveling Blues. I don’t know, but it sounds like that’s not a long enough time to harness and develop a sound between two albums. But, that’s just me hypothesizing.
The lineup of Orange Goblin on Time Traveling Blues is Ben Ward on vocals, Pete O’Malley on lead guitar, Joe Hoare on rhythm guitar, Martyn Millard on bass guitar and Chris Turner on drums.
The album has a promising start with “Blue Snow.” Say what you want about the over all songs, but the production on the drums and bass guitar here sound awesome. It’s pounding and sounds like it’s in the room with you. The song isn’t bad either and is probably the heaviest on the album, leading you to think that there’s better to come.
But, you’d mostly be wrong.
“Solarisphere” also starts out with the awesome sounding pounding drums and bass, going into a cyclone of guitar. It’s a pretty good song, aside from sounding very much like a song by Kyuss … which makes me want to hear Kyuss instead. It’s not a bad song, just not a very original sounding one if you happen to own Kyuss’ album Blues for the Red Sun.
Then there’s “Shine” that starts out with the electric organ, the reminds me of something that Deep Purple would do before turning into something that sounds kind of like “Planet Caravan” by Black Sabbath. As usual, the instruments sound good, but you can’t help but feeling like you’ve heard this before, especially if you’ve heard Pantera’s version of “Planet Caravan.”
If you don’t see it already, there seems to be a pattern of Orange Goblin seems to be making songs that sound like songs by other artists, particularly Black Sabbath. Sure, some people dig this, but why would I want to listen to a band that sounds like someone else when I can go listen to the real thing, especially with YouTube at my fingertips?
I mean there’s “influence and inspiration” then there is “laziness and appropriation” and I feel like Orange Goblin does the latter on Time Traveling Blues. Kyuss and Cathedral are an example of what bands who are influenced and inspired should sound like, that is, they add they build upon what was laid out by these older bands and but create a sound that is uniquely theirs. Orange Goblin just doesn’t do that.
The only other track worth mentioning is the title track, “Time Traveling Blues.” It still has that combination Sabbath-Southern Rock sound, but Orange Goblin actually comes out with a bit of an identity here. So, I consider it worth listening to and it’s a pretty good song.
I hate to give an album a bad review because musicians are in this because they love what they do and what they create. But, I just can’t recommend Time Traveling Blues. Now, from what I understand, they managed to carve an identity for themselves on following albums and I will be checking those out eventually.
But, as far as Time Traveling Blues is concerned, I would just say skip it. Aside from the title track, it’s not even worth listening to for free on YouTube.