If you count their beginnings as Our Haunted Kingdom, Orange Goblin have been together for over 15 years, and they’re an interesting case for beginners, because you could almost find yourself listening to three different bands, all with essentially the same personnel. More even than most cases where bands really develop over the course of their albums, one must be careful and know what they want when taking on Orange Goblin for the first time.
By way of advice: DO NOT start with 2002′s Coup de Grace, because you’ll just be confused. You’ll put on the disc and say to yourself, “What the hell? All I ever heard about this band was how heavy and doomed they are and this is like biker punk.” That is a direct quote, from you, in an alternate reality. You said it. I have the tapes.
When it comes to Orange Goblin, I usually think of Coup de Grace as a transition point. The three albums before it — Frequencies from Planet Ten (1997), Time Travelling Blues (1998) and The Big Black (2000) — were all released in the States on The Music Cartel, and all follow a course of heavy psychedelic doom rock. The two albums since — Thieving from the House of God (2005) and Healing Through Fire (2007) — have a more barroom feel, but it’s basically the baddest-ass bar you’ve ever seen. The one pub that locks the doors after “closing time” and feeds you drinks (every third one being on the house) until the sun’s up and they can legally open again.
So, when you’re deciding how to take on Orange Goblin for the first time (and we all know it should be special the first time), you have to decide what you want. I’d argue in favor of the later, single-guitar era material, because then you can go back and appreciate the changes the band has undergone over time. Healing Through Fire was fucking excellent, and if you start there you’ll find it a stronger, more memorable release than Thieving from the House of God, though that’s also quite good.
The three early records are trickier, but to make it easy, Time Travelling Blues is a masterpiece of stoner rock. Songs like “The Man Who Invented Time” and “Shine” will quickly become part of the fabric of your frontal cortex, and you’ll wonder how you ever survived without them. I previously recommended The Big Black, and I stand by that in the sense of if you’re only going to get one album, that encompasses a little more of both sides of the band, but Time Travelling Blues is the epitome of the band’s psych/stoner period.
Only question then is which do you want? Healing Through Fire or Time Travelling Blues? The real answer is to just get both, because after you hear one, you’re going to want the other. Start with these two, then pick up The Big Black, Frequencies from Planet Ten, Thieving from the House of God and Coup de Grace, in that order. You’ll be good to go, rocking out to “Aquatic Fanatic” like a pro in no time at all.