Orange Goblin have spent the last 20-something years tickling the taint between the twin monoliths of Black Sabbath and Motorhead, dipping their toes in each pool and pissing cider into the wind that blows between them, but in the four years since their last album, Back From The Abyss, both those bands have said their farewells, and this is not something that’s lost on the London stalwarts. The demise of their forebears informs much of what happens on follow-up The Wolf Bites Back, which grits teeth, charges glasses and roars proudly into the vacant space with more than enough defiance, attitude and, above all, respect to win over those audiences as they stumble lost in the wastelands of fallen idols. From the opening one-two punch of balls-out rockers Sons of Salem and the title track, to the closing classic-rock-doom-drawl of Zeitgeist, the blues roots of those primary influences infect everything like lice, Sabbath instrumental In Bocca Al Lupo and Lemmy tribute Renegade being the most obvious homages, the latter accomplishing much the same demolition job as Raging Speedhorn’s less imaginatively titled tribute, Motorhead. But it’s not just hero worship here, with enough curveballs thrown in to keep things spicy, be it Ghost of the Primitive‘s proto-metal groove or singer Ben Ward’s completely unrecognisable American drawl on the languid Clutch-esque The Stranger, which turns a tale of alien serial killers into a bastard blues fairytale for the ages. Played with the kind of cameraderie that only comes with two decades of brotherhood, and the kind of fire that only comes in the wake of downed heroes, The Wolf Bites Back is arguably Orange Goblin’s finest album yet, and deserves to make global superstars of these London legends.
The Wolf Bites Back is out 15 June via Universal/Candlelight Records