Orange Goblin – “The Wolf Bites Back” (Candlelight/ Spinefarm Records)
Right from their humble beginnings playing the Red Eye in London’s Kings Cross during the mid 90s, Orange Goblin have always been able to cut the mustard with their brand of stoner rock. Fronted by big Ben Ward and faithfully supported by little Joe Hoare, the band have steadily risen nationally, then across the Continent and finally the world. Still with the original crew and now onto album number 9, “The Wolf Bites Back” showcases 10 tracks of trademark stoner, along with some fast rock n roll thanks to Motorhead’s Phil Campbell lending his axe, and some homespun blues rock harking back to their roots as a hard rocking pub band. From alien serial killers to zombie biker gangs, Buddhist warriors through to descendants of the Salem witches, the lyrical matter matches the material, which retains its meat n potatoes style but in ever more muscle bound form along with masses of catchiness! Blasting in with ‘Sons Of Salem’ the heavy stoner grooves immediately set the song on a rollicking roll to Ward’s matching trippy drawls, showing that beyond the obvious Sabbath influence, there’s also hints of Captain Beyond and Wishbone Ash chucked in as well. With Campbell revving things up on the fast Motorhead rock n roll of ‘Renegade’, Ward adds in the rhyming lyrics in true kick ass style as this number simply smokes in a fine tribute to the great Lemmy! Bassist Martyn Millard more than makes his presence felt through his deep, crunching bass lines on ‘Swords On Fire’ as it reverberates all over the place on what appears to be an instrumental, before Chris Turner’s drums come pummelling in, and the song really heaves up and down massively with plenty of slide riffing from Hoare accompanied by much harsher tones from Ward. Heaviest and the most bombastic track was the punk mixed with Motorhead aptly titled ‘Suicide Division’ with its fast n heavy drums, strummed bass and roars from Ward as Hoare yanked and cranked out those apocalyptic riffs – yeah baby!!! In complete contrast however, was the tranquil bluesy rock of ‘The Stranger’ with its hugely moving guitar and Ward’s own deep soulful tones that made it no less powerful while showing how Orange Goblin have grown since those early days, presenting their most diverse yet strongest collection of songs to date.