We all know by now that Orange Goblin are a British rock institution. A band who transcended their stoner roots to bring us gutsy, supercharged metal albums like A Eulogy For The Damned. We also know that in Joe Hoare, they boast one of the country’s finest (and most underrated) guitarists in their ranks. And we also know that the Londoners don’t make bad records – The Wolf Bites Back is no exception.
So why bother reading this review?
Perhaps because Ben Ward and his cohorts have written one of their most anthemic ditties to date in this album’s title track. It’s pure rock fury, an untamed beast of a tune, a song filled with menace and joy in equal measure. It perfectly encapsulates what Orange Goblin are about in 2018. They go straight for your heart, using whatever musical style suits their purpose.
And that’s not all. The Wolf Bites Back is also, in many ways, a stronger opus than its predecessor, Back From The Abyss. That album has its moments (The Devil’s Whip, for instance) and was by no means a misstep, but it didn’t build on A Eulogy’s momentum. This release – their ninth full length – does. And with a swagger and confidence that points to a band comfortable in their own skin.
Opener Sons Of Salem is Orange Goblin dialled up to 11, the sound of a storm bringing blood and thunder from the heavens, Renegade tips the cavalry hat to Lemmy, and smells of JD mixed with gasoline and saddle sweat, and Suicide Division spits a gob-full of punk spit over the proceedings. Yet they’re side by side with the likes of The Stranger, which sees Hoare mine a rich seam of Southern blues and psyche, and Ghosts Of The Primitives, where Orange Goblin head out into the desert on a Harley fuelled by loose, über cool 70s retro rock.
Maybe Burn the Ships is a little Goblin-by-numbers. Maybe The Wolf Bites Back could have swapped the meandering Sword of Fire for another barnstormer. They’re minor quibbles though. This is Orange fucking Goblin baby. And they have the scent of blood in their nostrils.