Orange Goblin — The Wolf Bites Back
Another throwback to my early 20s, when I was a much more dedicated fan of stoner rock, the UK's Orange Goblin serve up 10 fresh new tracks on their latest effort, The Wolf Bites Back. Hewing closer to traditional hard rock than their contemporaries across the pond, Orange Goblin left a strong impression on me with 2000's The Big Black and I have no valid reason for paying little-to-no attention to the band's output since then. That being said, this new record is more or less exactly the sort of fare I would expect from the band, and I mean that as a compliment.
There are no building intros or somber brooding to be found on The Wolf Bites Back, the record starts off with the highly energetic rocker "Sons Of Salem" and for the next 40 minutes, the band dishes out sweet licks and bad-ass riffs without cease. Ben Ward's voice is in fine form, lending a gritty and sincere presence to the material while the rest of the four-piece bang out quality rhythms and hard-driving grooves one after another. As one would expect of a veteran band of nearly 25 years playing together, Orangle Goblin sound impressively cohesive and their song-writing is in fine form here.
Musically, this is a no-frills record, with minimal use of effects like delays and phasers, and, for the most part, the band opts to just rely on fuzzy distortion and a hearty dose of volume to get the job done. Why mess with what works; The Wolf Bites Back oozes with maturity and composure, the sort of which can only be garnered from a lifetime of touring and honing one's craft. A few of the cuts, like "Sons Of Salem," "In Bocca Al Lupo" (which is more of an interlude) and "Suicide Division" are fairly short numbers, coming in at 2:56, and 2:19 and 2:01 respectively, although I'm hard pressed to find a problem with any of that. "The Stranger" changes things up with a vocal delivery more akin to spoken word, breaking up the pacing of the album and giving the listener a bit of time to relax after 25 minutes of balls-out rock.
Closing out the album are "Burn The Ships" — which briefly reprises the spoken vocal cadence — and "Zeitgeist," the latter of which feels like the perfect note to end off on. Throughout The Wolf Bites Back, the band manage to display their trademarked amalgamation of hard rock, doom and stoner metal without a hint of retreading old ground or revisiting past glory. The record's production and song writing are top notch — every second of material is worthy of your time. Orange Goblin impressed me greatly when I first heard them, and my lapsing on their activities since The Big Black is now a point of shame given the quality of this new record. The Wolf Bites Back is easily one of 2018's best rock albums, and I highly recommend it.
Long-standing UK hard rockers Orange Goblin are ringing in their 25th anniversary on the heels of another strong effort in their discography. Blending a mix of blues, doom, and hard rock into a unique brew, this UK quartet shows no signs of slowing down with The Wolf Bites Back serving notice to any and all doubters. In an era of so many fractured, niche genres, and an ailing mainstream rock genre, records like The Wolf Bites Back are vital releases — reminding the world that rock isn't dead, you've just got to put a bit of work into finding the good stuff these days. This record is accessible, groovy and heavy as all hell, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Release date: June 15th, 2018
Record label: Candlelight Records
Ben Ward — vocals
Joe Hoare — guitar
Martyn Millard — bass
Chris Turner — drums
- Sons Of Salem
- The Wolf Bites Back
- Swords Of Fire
- Ghosts Of The Primitives
- In Bocca Al Lupo
- Suicide Division
- The Stranger
- Burn The Ships
Published: August 13th, 2018.