Review Summary: Four years is a long time to wait for a forty-minute biker doom album, but Orange Goblin continues to satisfy
“Sons of Salem” may start Orange Goblin’s ninth album with a mid-tempo charger like “Red Tide Rising” and “Sabbath Hex” before it, but The Wolf Bites Back doesn’t tread the same ground as its immediate predecessors. On the contrary, it’s a rather restrained outing by the band’s standards as the guitars are more laid back and the vocals have less of their signature bite than usual. Such a description probably makes it sound like a soft listen, but it may be one of their darkest releases.
It’s also one of the band’s most varied albums despite being their shortest to date. The title track is among their more unorthodox anthems, marrying a driving rhythm to subtler guitar work and a spooky tone, while “The Stranger” stands out for its slowed down blues jamming. Other songs tread familiar ground as “Swords of Fire” is a brutal doom number, “Ghosts of the Primitives” and “Burn the Ships” are upbeat rockers, and “Suicide Division” is another one of their high octane Motorhead worship anthems complete with a Phil Campbell solo.
But Orange Goblin retains their signature gruffness no matter what style they’re going for. Ben Ward’s vocals may not have that bite of even recent efforts, but they remain as distinct as ever and it is nice to see him pull off his cleaner inklings. Guitarist Joe Hoare comes out the MVP, continuing to deliver solid riffs while also honing his southern rock influences with great effect. This more relaxed shift was a great opportunity to bring some Time Travelling Blues-style keyboards back in, but I’m aware of how long ago that ship sailed.
Four years is a long time to wait for a forty-minute biker doom album, but Orange Goblin continues to satisfy. The Wolf Bites Back may not hit as hard as their last couple outings, but they aren’t resting on their laurels either. I imagine the variety may make it more of a grower than usual, even if it isn’t the most complex out there. There are stronger albums than this one, but its solid musicianship and persistently hooky songwriting should make it an appropriate bite-sized treat for fans.
“The Wolf Bites Back”
“Swords of Fire”
“Ghosts of the Primitives”
“Burn the Ships”
Originally published at http://indymetalvault.com