It’s been about three and a half years since we last heard from Orange Goblin, but it’s good to have them back. Album number nine from the British stoner/doom vets contains some of the speedier, Motorhead influences heard on its outstanding predecessor, Back from the Abyss, but that’s not to say there’s any shortage of slow, heavy riffs on here. This is, after all, a band that released a split EP with Electric Wizard back in ’97, before you or any of your bros were even listening to doom.
The album does open on a more up-tempo note, with “Sons of Salem” offering up a solid stoner rock riff with some of that southern UK groove, and comes complete with a hella-catchy chorus. The title track begins on a much lighter note, with acoustic guitar, before a mid-paced thrash metal riff kicks in after about a minute. The grimy Ben Ward vocal furthers the 80’s throwback feel, along with a totally shredding guitar solo. “Renegade” would sound right at home on the first couple OG albums—some more great stoner grooves on this one. (Ditto “Burn the Ships,” which hits you with a monster riff right off the bat.) “Suicide Division,” at just a shade over two minutes, comes off as a cross between Discharge and Motorhead, and is guaranteed to get people moving in the pit.
On the slower side, “Swords of Fire” opens with a great doomy bass line, and slows things down squarely into Sleep territory, with a head-nodding heavy riff that’s just as groovy as anything you’ll hear on The Sciences. The vocals don’t kick in until the 2:30 mark, at which point they pick up the pace to more of a mid-tempo sludgy stomp, somewhat reminiscent of High on Fire. “The Stranger,” which is the longest song on here (5:43), starts off as a mellow, blues-based number with half-whispered vocals, before the first heavy riff hits about two and a half minutes in, amongst some swirling bass and frenetic, yet danceable drumming… then goes back to a very bluesy guitar solo a minute later, adding in some Hammond organ toward the end. This particular number definitely defies comparison.