Goatsnake – Black Age Blues

Rating

While the Facebook group “1 MILLION GOATSNAKE FANS PLEADING FOR A NEW ALBUM/TOUR” never got much more than a thousand members… they did get their wish with this, the first Goatsnake full-length in 15 years. Some might know them mainly as the band with that guy from Sunn O)))) and Southern Lord, but back at the turn of the 21st century, Goatsnake unleashed a heavy one-two punch in Vol 1 and Flower of Disease that was right up there with any of the stoner/doom Man’s Ruin was cranking out at the time (including the first High on Fire record).

And this isn’t some cash-in, one-original-member “reunion” record either. (Black Ginn, anyone?) All four guys from back in the day are back on board, and for those who know their heavy shit, Greg Anderson ain’t the only household name here. So suffice to say, this is a pretty big deal—I know at least 1,065 people who are looking forward to it. 😉

Black Age Blues begins with a fade-in, piano and mournful cries kicking off “Another River to Cross” before an acoustic guitar gradually leads us into the first helping of heavy riffage. Anderson might be best known for atonal drone, but there’s nothing un-catchy about the slithering, fuzzed-out guitar attack underpinning Pete Stahl’s melodic vocals. This chorus really sticks in your head—and not merely on account of tinnitus.

Stahl’s bluesman howl begins “Coffee & Whiskey,” which sounds like it’s been dragged through the Mississippi muck with layer upon layer of distorted riverbed riffage. The title track is much more upbeat, soaring alongside The Sword, Priestess and their ilk, albeit with a fuzzier bottom end, before slowing down to a heavy stomp as it draws towards its conclusion.

Not sure if “Jimi’s Gone” is a Hendrix homage, but it certainly contains plenty of soul, complete with a driving, crunchy backbeat that’s as good as anything I’ve heard in stoom. “Grandpa Jones” is jam-packed with grave-rolling riffage, before “A Killing Blues” brings us out with the lengthiest, and perhaps trippiest, tune on here. Not sure how many of the past 15 years were spent perfecting this effort, but I’ll be damned if they don’t deliver!

It’s hard to pick a favourite among so many great tracks—this is one helluva comeback, let’s just leave it at that. And I know there’s at least one Goatsnake fan pleading for them to play Toronto now…

Gruesome Greg

Seahawks/Stamps/Flames/Zags/Jays/Raptors fan and lifelong metal head with a beer gut and a self-deprecating sense of humour. Reviewer/blogger (Yon Senior Doomsayer) for Hellbound.ca.

8.5 Rating