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A competent and insightful EP - 86%

JamesIII, March 17th, 2010

One of the most interesting things about Scott "Wino" is not only the number of bands he participated in, the soulful wailings he's known, and the reliability that often accompanies his name as a man who can bring forth good, quality doom metal again and again. Another interesting part of his history doesn't really have much to do with him at all. After one of Wino's projects ended, it seems a new one was ready to begin. Dave Sherman, formerly of Spirit Caravan, made this point when he brought together Earthride shortly after Spirit Caravan's collapse. In that same point, Goatsnake was formed after The Obsessed split up, with members Greg Rogers and Guy Pinhas going on to form this band.

After two full-lengths in "Vol. 1" and the more well known "Flower of Disease," the band then released the EP "Trampled Under Hoof" as their next release. Truth be told, I actually like this release as opposed to their full-lengths, not so much because the material here is of higher class than previous works, but more so because it offers a snapshot of the band and some of their influences. In addition to three original compositions by the band themselves, we also get two bonus tracks in form of Saint Vitus and Black Oak Arkansas covers, both of which offer a glimpse into the creative wells that Goatsnake often dipped into.

As you can probably expect with this release, this isn't really the same brand of doom metal you would expect out of Wino, particularly during his Saint Vitus and The Obsessed work. Instead, the material with Goatsnake generally carries a sludge-induced vibe, a dense atmosphere that is generally reserved for the Louisiana bands in Crowbar, Eyehategod, and the hordes that those two bands influenced. I love the traditional doom roots of Trouble, Saint Vitus and The Obsessed as much as the next guy, but I've also always had an attachment to the thick grooves and sludge bathed sounds of the Southeastern bands. Goatsnake seems to merge these two sounds rather well without causing them to contrast one another.

Despite their merging of sounds, it should be known that majority of this band's work sits happily at the altar of Black Sabbath, pretty much where every doom and sludge band sits at some point. Yet this little EP also invokes some other influences and bands that come to mind. "Portraits of Pain" comes to mind here, which embarks on a little Candlemass territory before shifting back towards more familiar Black Sabbath territory. "Black Cat Bone," helps to show off Pete Stahl, whose voice honestly reminds me a little of both Layne Staley and Scott Jeffreys, though not as dark as the former and not as ominous as the latter.

The two cover songs that round out this little EP are in the form of "Buried at Sea" originally by Saint Vitus and "Hot Rod" originally by Black Oak Arkansas. Both covers lean into Goatsnake's sound but also remain rather faithful to the originals, which is what you want out of a cover song anyway. Considering this band chose a doom metal song and a Southern rock song to cover, its a good insight into their influences. The inspiration of the doom powered machine of Saint Vitus is obviously more noticable, but I've always seen where Goatsnake dipped into the bank of Southern rock on more than one occasion so the Black Oak Arkansas cover isn't out of left field as one might be led to believe.

"Trampled Under Hoof" is an interesting little release from a band that alot of doom fans still don't know about. It seems easier to locate than either of their full-length releases, or at least I've concluded based on personal experience. For that, this EP does offer an excellent first start into the band even though its actually their last release thus far. Its also a more insightful release, considering it gives the listener two reliable cover songs to display their inspirations then gives three original compositions to let this all sink in. As far as recommendations, I can definitely see where more traditional doom fans could find something to enjoy here but also fans of the sludge variety, though in that regard expect the more traditional styles of Crowbar, not so much the misanthropic noise fest of Eyehategod.

Testosterone 101 - 90%

Starkweather222000, June 13th, 2009

Wow, I must admit this is a hell of an EP. I'm not one of those metal fans that despise shorter length releases, in fact, I love some of this material by some bands. But this is probably one of the best EP's I've ever heard, it's so solid that gives you the sense of fulfillment that only a good album can.

Goatsnake was one of the truest doom metal bands out there. The passion that existed in their music was inexplicably intense, Pete Stahl surely is a great vocalist and Anderson's riffs go all the way, from heaven to hell and backwards. Plus, a rhythm section including Scott Reeder as a bassist could not be less than ideal, so we have the perfect lineup here.

"Portraits Of Pain" and "Juniors Jam" are on the slower, doomier side, while "Black Cat Bone" is more like an enraged V8 power truck heading straight onto you. That's actually good for the album, because it produces a feeling of diversity, instead of having three long and slow tracks. As bonus tracks, we have two covers. "Burial At Sea" originally by Saint Vitus and "Hot Rod" originally by Black Oak Arkansas. Once again, the order of the tracks is very important. "Burial At Sea" is one of the best covers I've ever heard, in fact I think I prefer it to the original. It's a long, low-paced, crushing song with a marvelous riff all over it-and after it's over, "Hot Rod" can't really rock you off your arse. I haven't listened to the original so I don't know if it was a mediocre song all along or just a bad cover, but since it lasts barely three minutes, it's not much of a problem. You may just skip it.

The three Goatsnake tracks kick ass, that's for sure. This EP would be a 85-90/100 just containing these three songs so it's no love lost. An excellent doom metal release for people that have been exposed to the truth: Underground will always Rule.

MEATLES GRRRRR - 80%

the_navy_blue_vicar, May 7th, 2005

Just when you almost forgot about them, Goatsnake return with their first release in 4 years, and they’re much the same you’ll be happy to hear. Another brilliant in places but overall patchy release, packaged in another pretty crap sleeve. But would you really want it any other way? A: NO. Crap sleeves and patchy records are metal as fuck so shut down.

But there is a significant difference here though and that’s the addition of legendary Kyuss plank spanker Scott Reeder on bass, his first contribution released on bass in many moons, I believe. It’s certainly the first thing I’ve heard him on since Kyuss anyway, and it’s me that’s doing the review here so I can ignore whatever contrary evidence I choose. REEDER BACK IS BACK FROM MAKING FENCES OR WHATEVER IT WAS HE WAS DOING AND, HEY, HE’S STILL GOT IT!

First track is the classy “Portraits of Pain”, which starts out as a really slow sludgey dirge with crooning over it before it breaks into a groovy double time jam with eastern sounding melody for out man Pete Stahl. Reeder does a big crazy bass run under the riff in the middle while Stahl croons “YOU KNOW IT’S TIME FOR YOUR SACRIFICE” and the track gets faster and faster gaining momentum before a 2-note lick slams the break on and it’s back to an even more agonizingly slow repetition of the intro riff. YOU CAN’T ARGUE WITH SHIT LIKE THIS.

Track 2 is Black Cat Bone, a total motherfucker of a song with a Kyuss-y boogie rhythm and a total bastard of a riff. “I’LL GIT SOME, I’LL GIT SOME! GIT SOME, I’LL GIT SOME!” A pretty short and straightforward tune, tarted up with Stahl’s screams and whoops and Reeder’s flappy bass runs. FUCK YES. Stahl sings his arse off on this one too. Honestly, it’s hard to believe this man is bald.

The third track is Junior’s Jam and the intro is dead like Wizard by Black Sabbath’s 2-note harmonica riff, until the band crunch in, in a totally different key than you expected. This starts off as a really slow jam again before a wee drum takes it into another Kyuss-y bouncy rhythm, but with Pete holding back a bit on this one for added SMOOORVE-NESS. The on-the-one build up bridge is pretty cool, culminating in a nicely unexpected falsetto burst from Stahl before the track ends with a barking-dog and harmonica duel. I’m not kidding either. Fantastico.

There’s a huge gap between the end of this song and the start of Track 4, Burial At Sea, (I think) because the last 2 tracks are “bonus” tracks or something. They’re both covers, Burial at Sea is from the Burning Witch split they did anyway and the last track is just a daft wee conversation, with some country music in the background and then a totally over-the-top super-cheesy Black Oak Arkansas cover called Hot Rod. The only redeeming factor in this song is a bit cowbell which there isn’t enough of in metal. CONK CONK CONK CONK. Burial At Sea is alright but it’d woulda been cooler just to release this with the 3 new songs methinks.

It’s well patchy.