Goatsnake remain the standard by which a rolling groove should be judged. Rare are the instances in the last 50 years in which something that might be deemed heavy has been less fuckwithable than it is on their first two albums, I (discussed here) and Flower of Disease. Arriving in successive years in 1999 and 2000, they were an enema of riffs for a rock and roll that had been directionless since grunge ended and a heavy metal that was in the process of losing its way into dudely posturing and splintering into the overthought subgenres that now comprise it. And here comes Goatsnake, driven by the massive rhythm section of bassist G. Stuart Dahlquist (ex-Burning Witch, now The Poisoned Glass) and Greg Rogers (The Obsessed), and they just blew it all away. They weren’t the only heavy rock band emerging at the time, of course — we’re already years past Sleep’s Holy Mountain at this point, Man’s Ruin Records (which released this and the first record) was going strong, and this was the same era in which Orange Goblin, Acid King, Dozer and Electric Wizard were hitting their stride sound-wise — but Goatsnake were a different beast from them as well. To wit, the drearier stoner doom of “The Dealer,” or the nod of the opening title-track. Led by the riffs of Greg Anderson (who’d go on to find a generation’s worth of critical acclaim in SunnO))) and as the head of Southern Lord Recordings) and with Pete Stahl‘s soulful and quirky vocals out front, Goatsnake were able to cast a personality that no one else before or since has been able to touch.
And even apart from its predecessor, Flower of Disease delivers on every level. The swinging hook of “A Truckload of Mamma’s Muffins,” the this-is-a-lifestyle sleaze of “Easy Greasy,” the dated-but-still-charming attitude in “Prayer for a Dying,” the blues harp in “El Coyote” that seems both completely out of place and completely perfect and the way that song launches its faster push, Stahl spitting out lyrics about the House of the Moon and who knows what other bluesy righteousness — all of this comes together with a glorious lack of pretense to make Flower of Disease even more special. Guest appearances from Petra Haden, Dave Catching, Chad Essig and Mathias Schneeberger add depth in violin, piano, the aforementioned blues harp, etc., but at the core remains the largesse of groove that closer “This River” summarizes so well after the quicker “Live to Die.” A nod that was more lucid than Acid King‘s but somehow no less potent, Goatsnake‘s style is one that on this record became entirely their own as much as it couldn’t be Sabbath‘s, which made it twice the bummer that Flower of Disease was their final album, or at least seemed to be for more than a decade.
Followed by the 2004 Trampled Under Hoof EP, which included Scott Reeder (ex-Kyuss, now Fireball Ministry) on bass, it would be 15 years before Goatsnake issued another full-length. Even by the standard of their reunion (discussed here with Anderson), which started in 2010, it was a considerable wait for last year’s Black Age Blues (review here), and though that album left its audience with a mixed impression — I think some were thrown off by the fact that maybe Goatsnake had grown in the decade and a half — what made them such a landmark act to start with remained wholly intact. I don’t know about you, but I was left hoping it wasn’t a one-off return, as I think heavy rock needs Goatsnake more than the band actually knows, and Flower of Disease is a clear demonstration of why.
As always, I hope you enjoy.
Oh boy, this week. Frustrating. Multi-tiered frustration, capped off by absolutely losing my shit last night when the takeout spilled in my car. Slamming doors, yelling so hard my jaw hurt on the rest of the ride home, polluting my wife’s disposition as I all too often do with my negative bullshit. Frustrating. There’s a new Nick Cave record out today. I preordered it and it’s set to arrive this afternoon, but I’m honestly not sure I can handle it at this point. Need a major realignment of my perspective.
Which is basically the goal for this weekend. We’ll see how it goes. Given the neck-deep mindset in which I’ve spent the last weeks (months, two, three years?) wading, I have a hard time seeing the walls of the tunnel let alone any light ahead. Nonetheless, one moves forward because that’s the only direction one can move, if you want to think of it in board game terms.
It looks like this Oslo trip next week is(?) happening. I’m in NYC on Wednesday and Thursday for work either way, so the question is basically whether or not I go from there to Norway for Høstsabbat or I spend a couple days in NJ seeing family and then head back north with my need-a-good-rock-show tail between my legs. We’ll see how it shakes out.
Accordingly, the plans for Thursday and Friday are kind of up in the air, but lot of good stuff coming up Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nonetheless. Monday, a stream from Burn Pilot with an album review, Tuesday same deal from Katla, and Wednesday, fingers crossed for a lyric video premiere and album review from a certain desert rock legend who has a new album release at the end of this month. Don’t even want to jinx it by saying his name, but I’m obviously hoping it comes together. A few cool videos and announcements to catch up on as well.
Also need to start putting together the next Quarterly Review, which is a continually humbling experience. Some “bigger” releases in there this time, stuff I just haven’t gotten to yet — Sumac, Blues Pills, etc. — that’s been sitting on my desktop. I might have to push it to the first week of October because my personal schedule the next couple weeks is so hectic, but the more of a jump I can get on it, the better. Need to log mail for the first time in a while.
So if you need me, tomorrow my plan is to sleep as late as circumstances allow, watch as much baseball as circumstances allow, listen to good music and clear my head to the best of my ability before the alarm goes off Sunday morning and it’s time to get ready for the week ahead. I hope you enjoy these waning days of summer, I hope you have a great and safe weekend, and I hope you’ll take the time to check out the forum and radio stream.
Thanks for reading.
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