Orange Goblin, Frequencies from Planet Ten (1997)
Later this year, UK heavy overlords Orange Goblin will celebrate 20 years since the release of their first album, Frequencies from Planet Ten. The nine-track outing surfaced via Rise Above Records in fall ’97, following their split 7″ the year before on the same label issued under their original moniker, Our Haunted Kingdom. It was the beginning of what’s become one of heavy rock’s most storied journeys, and while there have seemed to be times when the London outfit have been doing nothing except waiting for the world to catch up to them — say, the five years between 2007’s Healing Through Fire and 2012’s A Eulogy for the Damned (review here) — they’ve never compromised either their assault or their creative will, and both got their beginning in these nine tracks. It was also a different time. Probably fair to call Frequencies from Planet Ten “stoner rock” for the Sabbathian loyalism it shows in the shuffle of “Saruman’s Wish” or the trippy Monster Magnetism that crops up in opener “The Astral Project,” but already in those cuts, in “Aquatic Fanatic,” “Land of Secret Dreams” and the eponymous “Orange Goblin,” one can hear the roots of the gruff, harder-driving path Orange Goblin would stomp as their sound took shape across their subsequent two full-lengths, 1998’s Time Travelling Blues (discussed here) and 2000’s The Big Black (discussed here), the then-five-piece making an unholy trinity of their first three albums the influence of which continues to reverberate today, especially in London’s fertile heavy rock underground.
Safe to say no one knew that was going to happen 20 years ago, but in addition to being relatively early adopters of a classically heavy sound in the late ’90s and a blueprint others would follow, Orange Goblin showed immediate distinction in their songwriting on Frequencies from Planet Ten. It’s not a perfect album and I don’t think it was meant to be — remember, this was the era of wider-adopted use of ProTools and other digital recording methods, so they were perhaps reacting to that in going for a live sound — but its rawness is only an asset in the forward thrust of “Magic Carpet” or “Aquatic Fanatic,” and vocalist Ben Ward, guitarists Joe Hoare and Pete O’Malley, bassist Martyn Millard and drummer Chris Turner (as well as Duncan Gibbs on keys) cleverly played psychedelics off their more straightforward material, both within in and between songs, so that as “The Astral Project” opened and set a spacious tone, “Magic Carpet” would soon answer by hitting the ground running with a wah-bass and drum boogie that turned into a post-Kyuss push that few making the rounds at the time could match in its tone or execution. Likewise, “Orange Goblin” and closer “Star Shaped Cloud” seemed to reinforce the structure, working at a middle-paced nod and a trippy build, respectively, to round out Frequencies from Planet Ten with an emphasis that while the two weren’t by any means mutually exclusive within their sound, a given track didn’t necessarily need to be aggressive in the metallic sense to be vigorously, righteously heavy.
Of course, over the subsequent two decades, Orange Goblin would become known for plenty of ferocity on their own level. From 2002’s Coup de Grace through 2004’s Thieving from the House of God, the aforementioned Healing Through Fire and A Eulogy for the Damned, as well as their latest outing, 2014’s Back from the Abyss (review here), they’d continue to refine, sharpen and tighten their approach to a point of impact that, by three years ago at least, was positively Motörhead-esque. And while that may have been a long, long way from where Frequencies from Planet Ten saw them start out, they were no less Orange Goblin than they’d ever been (unless you count the actual numbers of their mid-aughts change from a five- to a four-piece with the departure of O’Malley). While they’ve offered many, the most resonant lesson of Orange Goblin‘s tenure — which is hardly over; I’ve heard word of a new album this year on Spinefarm and they continue to tour — has proven to be that when you believe in what you’re doing and if you’re willing to stay true to that in the face of external trend, market, whatever, and if you’re right, you can make yourself a leader. They’ve certainly done that, and looking back on it nearly 20 years later, Frequencies from Planet Ten still kicks ass with what’s become Orange Goblin‘s signature footprint.
As always, I hope you enjoy.
I needed something of a pick-me-up this week, as it’s been a tough one at work. Add to that the fact that Tuesday night I woke up around 1:30AM and never got back to sleep, so went into Wednesday with about four hours of extra-unfortunate consciousness, and yeah, it was even harder. Stressful. Corporate living.
But the whole of today was awesome, so it seemed only fair to close out the week in that fashion as well. I hope yours was good. I’ve got family coming north this weekend — my mother and nephew — and am looking forward to that as well as to a couple hours of relaxed coffee sipping and writing in the mornings. It’ll be a good time. I’m exhausted, but not nearly so miserable as I was, say, Wednesday afternoon circa 2PM. Easy low point of the year so far, if you’re keeping track.
Next week is pretty full already, which I’ll take. I’ve slated reviews for the next however long, and some of it might get interrupted as premieres come in (that happened today, actually, with the John Garcia), but here’s how it looks at the moment:
MON: Eternal Elysium review & Basalt video premiere.
TUE: Electric Funeral Cafe Vol. 3 comp review & Hornss video premiere.
WED: Vinnum Sabbathi review.
THU: Aathma album stream/review.
FRI: Either a Buddha Sentenza review or a new podcast.
I’ve set Monday, Jan. 23 as the date for launch of my 2017 most anticipated albums list, but that might change as the list has over 100 bands at this point — I will not be writing them all out like last year; nobody read it, nobody cared and the post almost collapsed under its own weight — and has become a beast to organize. Some selection of 35-40 picks will be written out, the rest broken up either by how likely they are to show up or some other standard. I’ll sort it all this coming week, hopefully. Definitely by the end of the month.
Anyway. Thanks for reading this week and I wish you the kind of great, safe and recuperative weekend that I’m hoping to have. Please check out the forum and the radio stream.