The band that started life as Oliver, morphed into Cherry Five and then finally Goblin in the mid 70’s have certainly been through a confusing conundrum of stages and splinter groups since they fragmented in the early 80’s. The band who rode on the coattails of the emerging Italian horror boom created some of the best loved and most remembered soundtrack work for the likes of directors Dario Argento reaching a bloody pinnacle on films such as Deep Red, Dawn Of The Dead and Suspiria before dissension in the ranks saw several members unable to use the Goblin name on Tenebrae back in 1982. What exactly went wrong is as much steeped in rumour and legend as anything else but since then there have been a dizzying array of offshoots many led by original keyboard played Claudio Simonetti having plenty of success of late playing live accompaniment to the films Goblin originally scored. Goblin Rebirth is the latest incarnation involving the bands original rhythm section namely Bassist Fabio Pignatelli & Drummer Agostino Marangolo. With Simonetti pretty much focussing on the band’s past glories obviously brand new material from original cast members was always going to be interesting and it’s hardly surprising that having had success with Zombi that predominantly metal label Relapse was quick to pick them up.
This is very much an album of two parts, the horror sounding motifs that made the band famous and the progressive standards that they evolved from and always had nuances from heavily indebted to their sound. A lullaby laden melody takes things in via xylophone on opener ‘Requiem For X’ and austere and spooky keyboards layer up with atmospherics tense and dramatic. It’s an instantly recognisable sound to anyone who grew up on these films and as guitars meander off down deep dark paths there’s no denying this has a good spark from the past about it. The progressive flourishes are also noted and there is some retro keyboard action to go with it. ‘Back In 74’ obviously is a claim to where they come from but on playing it I thought someone had got things mixed up and put an Ozric Tentacles track on. Obviously the Ozrics took a lot of what they do from the likes of Goblin but it really does remind more of them than Goblin themselves! It’s much more of a prog number than chiller really which makes it somewhat redundant to me as it is the horror motifs that I am looking for from the band above and beyond everything else. If I wanted this I would probably be more likely to put on Erpland or the likes thank you very much. A track title like ‘Book Of Skulls’ has to prosper better but with its somewhat camp spooky keyboard lines it horrifies in all the wrong ways and sounds very much like a bad b-movie soundtrack or a bit of incidental music done much better more recently by the likes of Sigh or Necrophagia. The guitar solo too is just cheesy and rather than move me towards being anything like remotely scared I’m kind of shuddering in horror. ‘Mysterium’ is more of a dark crypt crawler and twists and turns with a feeling of uncertainty hiding around each and every corner. This is much more like it and the dread choral vocal backing lurking far back in the mix and tinkling keyboard parts come close to bringing a shiver down the spine.
Bass work really makes its mark on the start of ‘Evil In The Machine’ and guitars slash wildly before more kooky keyboard melody takes over and so do some dreadful vocoder vocal parts, ugh! Yeah sorry but I wonder what machine is so evil after this started off so well, the washing machine? Are the words saying ‘binary infection’ or is it a bio one with the wrong powder being put in? This is far too clichéd and cheese laden for its own good especially considering how fantastic the original band were sculpting the futuristic soundtrack used on both Zombie Creeping Flesh and Contamination. It’s ambient anarchy via the sort of drearier thing that Hawkwind were doing in the 90’s as far as ‘Forest’ is concerned; a track that is included to pad the running time out if ever I have heard one. As for the guitar solo pure AOR! ‘Dark Bolero’ adds some strings and an ethnic vibe into things but rather than zombies on a desert island the vibe I get is a Mills And Boon romance amidst the palm trees. Perhaps at a push it could have worked on Erotic Nights Of The Living Dead (and yes such a film indeed exists) but I am wondering just what they are getting at here? Can we please have a grand-guignol climax? Well it appears not ‘Rebirth’ here is again in a desert clad locale by the sound of things but it just meanders going nowhere and lacking in atmosphere turning into a cheese fest that had someone else I played it to compare it to Boston which is never a good thing!
Ok I have been particularly critical here but considering that some of the people involved are behind some of the greatest horror soundtrack music ever played I think I’m entitled to. This is incredibly well played and not bad background music in the slightest but compared to what came before it I can’t help but think I would not be bothered if it even didn’t exist and the band had not had this rather unnecessary rebirth.
(6/10 Pete Woods)