"The Wolf Bites Back"

By El Chief

The ninth studio album from UK genre-shifters Orange Goblin is a lot like your mopey best friend. He was once the life of the party but a girl got him by the nuts and now he just sits there, lifeless and miserable. All you can do is be there for him and hope that he returns to his former self in time.

"The Wolf Bites Back" starts off well with the straight-to-the-gut "Sons of Salem." The track roars out of the gate like it's the title track for a "Sons of Anarchy" spinoff, and that's precisely what Orange Goblin does best now. However, the promising start is a chimera and by the time Ben Ward's vocals kick in on the eponymous "The Wolf Bites Back," you know that gleaming Hog has taken a wrong turn and is down on its side on a gravely road. 

I think the problem here is that Orange Goblin's music has always been a reflection of its time. Beginning as a spacey-jazz-metal hybrid, they embraced the scene being explored by the likes of Kyuss and Monster Magnet. Then, when that style dropped out of vogue, they warmed up to all balls, no bones rock played by Queens of the Stone Age and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. But now that no scene is in vogue, Orange Goblin heaves up a slab of rock that doesn't know what it wants to be. Is it more biker bar tunes, or is it a glance at its more instrumental past? 

"The Wolf Bites Back" proves you can't serve both masters. That's a lesson Orange Goblin needs to learn before they return to the studio.