Orange Goblin + King Creature
@ The Underworld, London
18th December 2021
Review by Jack Merry
Photography by Dovalde Gaidelionyte
Hailing from London, England, hard rock and heavy metal heavyweights Orange Goblin returned to our shores for another December tour; something that the band has made a habit of over the last few years, and 2021, in the midst of a global pandemic and a new variant rearing its ugly head at the time of writing, is no different. In a year of so much uncertainty, confusion, and ever-changing rules, it’s reassuring to find that Orange Goblin are still doing what they do best: delivering crushing guitar riffs to an adoring fanbase.
Three-piece London metal band URNE were originally on the lineup (and successfully played most of the tour), however, illness had forced them to drop out last minute, leaving Cornish metallers King Creature as the only support act for the final London show.
KING CREATURE (4/5) were the perfect choice to open up for Orange Goblin. Their blend of stomping bluesy hard rock and sludgy heavy metal was music to my ears as songs like ‘Desolation’ and ‘Power’ rang out through the venue. After a UK tour with Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons, the group set about recording their second studio album, Set The World On Fire.
With solid performances like this, King Creature will do just that in no time. The audience seemed very supportive; and having witnessed them at Bloodstock with some technical and sound issues, this was much better. Everything just clicked into place.
Hailing from Cornwall, the four-piece consists of Dave Kellaway on vocals/bass, Matt Karl Vincent on guitar, Jack Bassett on drums, Mike Stennett on guitar.
We will definitely see King Creature more and more in future; they delivered a fantastic and powerful set that showcased their musicianship and song-writing prowess, mixing melody with sheer power for some eruptive results.
ORANGE GOBLIN (5/5) return to the Underworld in Camden for a blistering display of sheer power, brute force riffing, and melodic hard rock in a celebration of the band’s newer material. Choosing to shake up the setlist for the final two nights of the tour in London, night one focusing on the band’s early catalogue up to and including 2004’s Thieving From the House of God, and night two highlighting their last four studio albums, from 2007’s Healing Through Fire to 2018’s The Wolf Bites Back and everything in-between.
Luckily I picked the right night to attend as I completely love the newer albums, with A Eulogy for the Damned from 2012 being my personal favourite Orange Goblin record. A totally packed out Underworld were completely ready for a night of heavy stoner metal; an air of anticipation and excitement so thick you would need a machete to cut through it.
With a line-up consisting of Ben Ward on vocals, Joe Hoare on guitar, Chris Turner behind the drum kit, and newcomer Harry Armstrong laying down the bass guitar, Orange Goblin took to the stage to heavy applause. The thundering drum introduction to ‘Sons of Salem’ led the charge through a breathless performance. Having seen them once before at Bloodstock Festival earlier in 2021, I knew everybody was in for a treat.
‘The Filthy and The Few’ and ‘Acid Trial’ maintain a thick sludgy groove while ‘The Fog’ begins with a creeping Sabbath style riff that would make Tony Iommi himself blush, all delivered with ease and unshakeable confidence by Goblin founding member, guitarist Joe Hoare. If thick doom riffs are not your thing, you won’t find much to love at an Orange Goblin show.
Frontman Ben Ward has a mountainous stage presence as he stands tall amongst the rest of the band, with his long flowing hair, black vest and other typical rock apparel switching effortlessly between a menacing stare while performing and smiles all around for a little on stage banter with the crowd between songs.
‘The Wolf Bites Back’ is a slow build that crescendos into a heavy blues rock number as Ward sings the fantastic chorus of “Who prays for you, When we attack? With fire and a fury, The wolf bites back!,” a line that could be taken as the band’s vicious return to live music, as an adoring crowd mosh and head-bang their way through the set. ‘Stand For Something’ roars out of the gate with a volcanic main riff and explosive rhythm section barrelling along underneath, while ‘Into The Arms of Morpheus’ dives headfirst into psychedelia; drenched in wah effects and lengthy musical passages.
Returning to a heavier, faster pace, The Wolf Bites Back track ‘Renegade’ is a breathless tribute to Motorhead and their fearless leader, Lemmy Kilmister, and the crowd welcome it with open arms. There isn’t a metal band on Earth that isn’t inspired by Lemmy’s high-octane brand of rock n’ roll, and Orange Goblin definitely wear their inspiration on their sleeves, loud and proud.
‘They Come Back (Harvest of Skulls)’ is a lumbering heavy metal monster twisted through a sludgy, stoner metal filter and has the fans reaching boiling point. Many, many necks will hurt in the morning. The triple threat finale of ‘Death of Aquarius,’ ‘The Devil’s Whip,’ and ‘Red Tide Rising’ is a brutally efficient and heavy end to a fantastic show that I’ll remember for months, even years, to come.
After a tough couple of years, the Goblin crew are all clearly happy to be back doing what they love most, and the same can be said for the audience. For some, this gig would be the return to live music. For others, it’ll be just another in a long list since Covid restrictions lifted back in July/August 2021. No matter the situation, the emotion was always the same: a sense of relief, of family, of brotherhood. This is where we belong, and it felt incredible. This time last year, concerts felt like a distant memory, and here we were right back in the throes of another.
There isn’t much of a ‘show;’ flashing lights as a standard, but Orange Goblin let the music do the talking here, and oh does it talk. With the looming threat of a new Covid variant rearing it’s ugly head, it is nothing short of a miracle that the tour was even still on, let alone finished successfully. The wolf does indeed bite back.
ORANGE GOBLIN Setlist:
Sons of Salem
The Filthy and The Few
The Ballad of Solomon Eagle
The Wolf Bites Back
Stand For Something
Cities of Frost
Into The Arms of Morpheus
They Come Back (Harvest of Skulls)
Death of Aquarius
The Devil’s Whip
Red Tide Rising