Orange Goblin - The Wolf Bites Back - (8/10)
Published on June 18, 2018
Ripping their heart wide open to find what they have become – distinguished kings
Lingering in the dark the bootleggers prey upon the weak, licking their lips with currency signs in their eyes, hungry for slim picking in this dog-eat-dog world. Scavenging at the scraps, these hyenas promise you a good deal all in the name of exposure and sparking the inquisitive nature of your peers. Little do they know, under the curtain of night the wolves stir, their eyes as piercing as their teeth are ravenous; fueled by only the most potent of alcofuel, they encircle their cretinous foes, waiting to strike and finish them off once and for all . Unleashing a carnivorous display of grooving riffs carved from their own flesh, cruising from the thunderous roar of the engine, the good guys of Orange Goblin tower above the rest with their triumphant return to the dirtied roads of the underground, proving when The Wolf Bites Back it does so with relentless fervour and attitude.
The unmistakable booze-fueled racket from London’s four horsemen of heavy metal roars from the grimiest of dive bars once again after a four absence, this time lurking in a menacing darkness where only the foulest of creatures prowl. Their ninth effort, The Wolf Bites Back bolsters some of the strongest material Orange Goblin have birthed, throttling our mortal bodies in ways we have long pined for and leaving previous album Back from the Abyss strewn and mangled along the highway traversed by the filthy and the few. Aggressive and raw, this wolf foams at the mouth and refuses to pull any punches in its über-rhythmic decimation of ears and necks for miles around – Ben Ward and company are masters in the execution of brawling heaviness and if the rollicking anthem of ‘Sons of Salem’ and the obligatory Motörhead-worship in the manic frenzy of ‘Suicide Division’ fails to convince you of this then nothing will.
What separates this wolf from the rest of the pack is the sheer diversity of fodder it serves up. It’s not just about the bruisin’ and the savagery here: flexing their craftsmanship far beyond the reach of the sun, Orange Goblin plug into a greater level of consciousness and summon up the likes of Captain Beyond and Wishbone Ash in cosmic conjurations found in stripped-back blues of ‘The Renegade’ and the cinematic sensationalist closer ‘Zeitgeist’. It is cradled within these songs we find unexpected bursts of creative supernovae plunging the listener into unexplored territories, and none embody this more than the standout ‘The Stranger’, a phenomenal throwback to a long-lost era, drenched in the desert heat as opposed to the band’s whiskey-soaked depths, accompanied by one of Ward’s – and Joe Hoare’s – finest performances. What this song lacks in their usual heaviness, the menacing ‘Swords of Fire’ amplifies the doom and erupts with aplomb; whilst the title track’s infectious riffmongering is pure OG whilst revelling in tension.
A triumph in songwriting, The Wolf Bites Back is armed with a sonic arsenal constructed by only the very best of over twenty-years of experience etched deep into their flesh; approaching a near quarter-century of slogging it out with the roughest of the rough has only served in Orange Goblin’s favour, proving greatness can come with age. The more spins it gets the more it unravels itself as the sonic equivalent of years of hard labour within a system continually flipping the bird to those whose toil goes unnoticed and blowing their head clean off with one almighty roar. It may not be as heavy as other albums, for instance their breakthrough A Eulogy for the Damned, but as far as blood, sweat, and whiskey goes this is a crowning achievement as dark and tough as it is mature and distinguished, cementing the band as England’s most grizzled wrecking crew. Bootleggers beware….