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Crushing Catchiness - 90%

RichardDeBenthall, April 19th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Southern Lord Recordings

I came across this album late last year and I remember the moment well, as my usual activity of trawling through Bandcamp for more releases became a whole lot more interesting! I was about a minute into the opener "Another River To Cross" when a riff came out of the stygian workplace boredom and damn near knocked me off my seat.

"Who the hell is this band?!" I was asking myself? I grew up with Sabbath and Deep Purple, but I've never been that infatuated with doom or stoner metal. I've always found it to be a little boring and unimaginative and as such I wasn't familiar with the likes of Greg Anderson or the Obsessed. Going into this listen, I had no real point of reference other then Black Sabbath's back catalogue and the first Sword album.

How surprised I was then to hear riffing like this! I'm now much more familiar with the genre and have listened to numerous albums from the likes of Sleep and Kyuss but I still have never heard a tone quite like Greg Anderson's on this album. As a guitar player myself, I appreciate that he uses a wonderfully simple set-up, e.g. Les Paul with P90's, ProCo Rat Pedal and a Sunn Model T. Who knew such a simple combination could sound like a tectonic shift instigated by pure, slowed down Iommi worship.

Goatsnake manage to make a brilliant blend of the crushingly heavy, the playful, the soulful and the downright catchy. The album's silliest song, "Coffee and Whiskey", is addictive and even light-hearted but it ends with a monumental, crushing outro riff that puts the ending of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath to shame."Black Age Blues" and "House of the Moon" follow on nicely from this song and bring the albums quality to the foreground, mixing the riffs with the Gospel vocals of 'Dem Preacher's Daughters' and an excellent delivery from Pete Stahl, who provides consistently catchy lyrics and melodies, which I find myself singing all the time. I'd be lying if I said this album wasn't Greg Anderson's show but kudos has to also be given to the tasteful performances of the rhythm section; Scott Renner on bass and Obsessed's Greg Rogers on drums. As with most doom/stoner metal, there is no need for virtuosity in the rhythm section, more a clear understanding of rhythm and song progression. All that needs to be said is that they provide a suitable canvas from which Greg Anderson's guitar tone can destroy reality.

Buy this album, support the band and bathe in the warm bask of fuzz and huge groovy riffs that these guys bring to the table!

Another River to Cross - 90%

Twisted_Psychology, July 23rd, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Southern Lord Recordings

Goatsnake only released two full-lengths and a couple EPs in their brief heyday but they've gathered a sizable following in the doom metal community due to shared members with groups such as The Obsessed and Sunn 0))). The group reunited in 2010 and has finally gotten around to releasing their first full-length album in nearly fifteen years after a series of sporadic live shows. A new bassist in the form of Scott Renner (Not to be confused with Scott Reeder) is along for the ride but things are still looking pretty familiar in Goatsnake territory.

For the most part, Black Age Blues picks up right where they left off. Guitarist Greg Anderson is still running the best Iommi and Victor Griffin riffs he can come up with through a heavy blues filter and lead singer Pete Stahl still puts in a unique croon that is somewhere between Robert Johnson and Bobby Liebling with smooth harmonica to match. However, the band's overall approach seems to have gotten more laid back as its members have grown older. The guitars haven't gone soft but the song structures still more laid back and the vocals have an aged quality that adds to the bluesy touch. The backing vocals by Dem Preacher's Daughters also keep things interesting and act as a doomy answer to Lynyrd Skynyrd's Honkettes whenever they pop up.

The songwriting also works well and offers a good deal of variety to go along with the memorable riffs and vocals. "Another River to Cross" and "Grandpa Jones" mix drawn out choruses and heavy swinging riffs though the former feels like it could be a bit longer after such an epic intro. Elsewhere, "Elevated Man" has a trudgy groove to it, "Coffee & Whiskey" has an aggressive yet infectious hook, and "Jimi's Gone" has another interesting swing to it. There aren't too many dark moments but these are the sort of blues stomps that are damn near impossible to hate.

Goatsnake's comeback may not be revolutionary but it is a reminder of their unique place in the doom metal scene. Blues has always had its influence present in the genre but not many bands pull it off to such an authentic degree and their experiences only accentuate the assertion. Hopefully they'll stick around and develop even further with future installments.

Highlights:
"Another River to Cross"
"Elevated Man"
"Jimi's Gone"
"Grandpa Jones"
"A Killing Blues"