Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Goatsnake - 1 & Dog Days

Goatsnake
1 & Dog Days


Released 2004 on Southern Lord
Reviewed by petew, 09/02/2010ce


If you've got a bit of a penchant for the old diabolus in musica tritones, sabbathesque, downtuned thick as sludge riffola, but never seem to hear much in the way decent tunage spewing out of the crypts of the current dealers in despair. Well, you could road test 70s style biker, doom outfit Goatsnake, who coincidentally have recently re-aminated themselves to play some live dates.

Formed back in the 90s by Greg Anderson riffs (sunn0))) and Pete Stahl, throat (various hardcore bands) Goatsnake were an unholy alliance of the inevitable Sabbath, mixed with a Montrose biker style sensibility and a hint of soulful Free blues rock.

Sonically the sound of the Goatsnake is colossal, to let yourselves be dragged into their pit of Stygian, Lovecraftian biker world of dread, the best point of entry is a twofer of their 1st album cleverly entitled 1 plus ep Dog Days. Dog Days incidentally also featured quite possibly one of the worst covers of all time, the artwork features a blood hound sitting in the foreground of sc-fi dystopian landscape, the dog possibly lifted from one of those disturbing "animals play pub games" pictures that were popular back in the day. But of course there will no need to ever cast you eyes on this, thanks to the lovely guys at Southern Lord kindly reissuing this sacred testament to the temple of doom ...

Melody or lack of it , that's the problem with latter day metal, (yeah, I know it could be that I'm missing the point) but you know how it is, some track starts off with some enormous riff chugging away, this sounds cool you might think and then some cookie monster vocal kicks in, no hook, no tune ... or take the latest drone metal outfit, there's a sustained chord hanging in the ether and you've got to wait a week before the next one comes along and even the best hash in the world ain't going to stop you from getting bored, but wait ...here we have this twisted offering from Goatsnake, a heavy doomed laden, psychedelic stew with enough classic rock references to keep the more uh, traditional listener happy.

Ironically, Sunn0))), and Greg Anderson' involvement in said band who started out as an ironic homage to original drone doomsters Earth has curiously engendered an interest in metal from an audience hitherto who would never have listened to such a critically reviled genre as metal. Somehow Sunn0))) by removing the riff from the context of metal seemed to make it cool with the art rock crowd. But will any readers of super pretentious music mag Wire be grooving to Goatsnake?

1 is heavily in debt in homage to all things Sabbath, but alongside recent doom bands such as Electric Wizard, Goatsnake have taken what is an old fashioned template of early 70s rock and brought it to new levels of heaviosity. Goatsnake are one of the blackest, crushing bands around with the added bonus of having some great songs. 1 and Dogs Days were recorded within a year of other but playing it end to end, it feels like one body of work. Highlights include Innocent, a rampant amalgam of Zeppelin and Sabbath featuring some nifty blues harp and Bonhamesque percussives, What Loves Remains, a slow crippled blues with some great vocals from Stahl, pitched somewhere between Paul Rodgers and Ozzy. Orphan, featuring phased vocals, melvinesque quiet and loud passages and a monster Iommi riff. Hell, there ain't a bad cut on the damn thing, they even take time out for a couple of covers, Free's Heartbreaker and Sabbath's Who are you? Jeez, there's even a song called Trower...Go find.


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