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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.