Metal Hammer (UK) - - Albums - DAVE EVERLEY

The Wolf Bites Back CAN­DLE­LIGHT/UNI­VER­SAL London’s rau­cous rock out­laws shift their axis

Twenty Three years is a life­time in rock’n’roll, and those years have some­times hung heav­ily on Orange Goblin. There have been mo­ments where you got the sense that the strug­gle of be­ing an un­der­ground metal band was grind­ing them down. Not any more. The Lon­don­ers’ ninth al­bum sounds like the work of a band drunk on life.

It’s a bol­shie, bel­liger­ent, bear of an al­bum whose in-yer-face front hides a street-smart in­tel­lect.

Like ev­ery Orange Goblin al­bum, The Wolf Bites Back’s heart is in the past, though this time they’re mov­ing be­yond the usual Sab­bath/Motör­head axis with­out com­pletely throw­ing the baby out with the bath­wa­ter. The likes of air-punch­ing rum­ble-in-a-biker-bar an­them Sons Of Salem and lov­ingly rau­cous Lemmy trib­ute Rene­gade are off­set by flashes of bril­liant strange­ness: the spi­ralling in­stru­men­tal, denim-clad psychedeli­a of In Bocca Al Lupo, the low-slung be­gin­ning and phased end­ing of Ghosts Of The Prim­i­tive, the desert-dry coun­try-blues doom of The Stranger, in which a husky-voiced Ben Ward sounds vir­tu­ally un­recog­nis­able. It’s not rein­vent­ing the wheel so much as bash­ing into a slightly dif­fer­ent, yet still fun­da­men­tally wheel-like shape.

It’s not clear what’s changed. Ben Ward has cited the likes of The Stooges, early-70s psych rock­ers Cap­tain Be­yond and, most in­ter­est­ing, Ger­man avant-gardists Can as in­flu­ences. The pres­ence of the lat­ter is barely de­tectable any­where on the al­bum mu­si­cally, let alone the beery hard­core-lean­ing erup­tion of Sui­cide Divi­sion, but Orange Goblin have taken on the krautrock­ers’ ex­per­i­men­tal MO and used it to slowly but per­cep­tively dis­man­tle their own bound­aries.

Even if they hadn’t con­sis­tently made great records, you have to ap­plaud Orange Goblin for the fact that their out­law spirit has seen them over­come the ob­sta­cles that have threat­ened to de­rail them. ‘Form an orderly queue for the grave’ growls Ben on the flagons-aloft rab­ble-rouser Burn The Ships.

On this show­ing, his band are a long way from the end of the road.


Orange Goblin have made an­other fists-in-the-air corker

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