Back in stock on CD and LP, the vinyl version with an additional two exclusive tracks.
Time flies. It's been fifteen years since the last Goatsnake album, though it feels like just yesterday that I was getting flattened by the titanic blues-doom heaviosity of Flower Of Disease. It's indeed been a decade and a half since the L.A. doom rock heavies dropped their modern masterpiece of American doom metal Flower Of Disease, with a long hiatus interrupted with brief spurts of activity between, but after all this time Goatsnake are back, and with a monstrous set of tunes that sounds like there's been no downtime at all. These guys are my favorite American doom metal outfit as a matter of fact, so to hear them return with a roar of triumph with the appropriately titled Black Age Blues remains one of the musical highlights of 2015 for myself; over the course of their previous two albums Goatsnake crafted some of the catchiest, heaviest Sabbathian music I've ever heard, like some monstrous, sludge-encrusted blend of The Cult and Sabbath, and that powerful sound is in full force on their comeback album. In Pete Stahl, Goatsnake boast one of the finest frontmen to ever swing the mic in a doom metal outfit, his powerful, soaring singing and weathered, Astbury-esque croon offers a perfect contrast with the soul-flattening Sabbath-on-steroids might of their music, and he sounds more world-weary than ever with these songs.
There's a poignancy to how the album opens, beginning with fading echoes of the song "The River" that ended Flower Of Disease, leaving no doubt that the band is picking up exactly where they left off fifteen years ago. And as they slide into the pulverizing elephantine crush of "Another River To Cross", it's as if no time has elapsed at all, the band's signature downtuned doom rock as molten and menacing as it has ever sounded, and singer Stahl sounds utterly unweathered, his honeyed, soulful croon taking flight across the song's bluesy, slow-motion crawl. It's a hell of a comeback, displaying the same impeccable level of songwriting acumen as the previous album, syrupy yet bone-grinding guitar tone, the rhythm section swerves and swings expertly , laying down titanic grooves amid some sneaky off-kilter time signature changes and edgy, stuttering rhythms, while heightening some of their more unique influences, with elements of gospel, soul and southern blues all seeping into these songs; they break out the harmonica again on the massive Sabbathoid "Elevated Man" before careening through the garagey rocker while tossing off armloads of bludgeoning riff-grenades. On "Coffee & Whiskey", they hammer down on a mammoth gluey heaviness that would flatten the ugliest sludgecore outfit, but can follow it up with the rollicking biker-doom perfection of the title track, a slow-mo shimmy that's as ominous yet infectious as the saurian boogie of their last album. There's some great use of backing gospel-style vocals on "House Of The Moon", and "Jimi's Gone" is a skull-smashing blues-metal earworm that oozes around yet another massive magmatic hook and more of those terrific all-female backing R&B vocals from the trio Dem Preacher's Daughters. It's all so goddamn heavy, it's almost overwhelming, with Anderson dropping sledgehammer riffs that most metalcore bands would lose a limb for, while strafing you with his searing, asthmatic solos that lash out like barbed wire from the tarpit heart of these tracks, and yet still throws some new twists into their sound, everything a little more rhythmically complex than before, the tone darker and more sinister. A great goddamn comeback from these guys.