Goatess have been around embryonic since 2009 before solidifying as the current moniker in 2012, but have enjoyed being tipped for success almost since inception. As a result they’ve bothered notable festival line ups in Germany and their native Sweden before they even entered a studio to capture their brand of desert and stoner influenced Doom.
The Self-Titled debut in 2013 saw them lay out their blueprint to infuse the harder metallic elements of classic Sabbath with the heady psychedelic, narcotic haze of southern flavoured doom. Second release II: Purgatory Under New Management came three long years ago and was followed by a rebuild of half the band a year later which saw new members Karl Buhre (vocals) and Samuel Cornelsen (Bass) join the ranks.
The most notable fact about this is the replacement of co-founder and voice of the band, Christian ‘Chritus’ Linderson (Count Raven/St Vitus) which left some pretty big shoes to fill. However, this change of personnel seems to have had the desired effect and this year sees the release of the follow up Blood And Wine.
Goatess have doubled down on the desert and stoner influences and created nine tracks of robust, epic and expansive Doom that owes plenty to the revered forefathers of both camps, namely Black Sabbath and Kyuss, whilst adding their own flavours to a style that has plenty of innovators as well as plenty of copyists.
Blood And Wine teases a typical desert rock opening, but instead opts to kick off the album with a towering piece of epic, expansive doom. Goddess drips with laid-back stoner vibes that seemingly manage to capture the sprawling, baking heat of the desert but also simultaneously sprinkled with the icy cold sun climbing high over the Andean Mountains as the lyrics invoke images of the mid-winter sun. During this lazy, beautiful, melodic start, the slow meandering guitar tone warms and hums, dripping with delicately chosen picking rather than crackles with an abrasive edge. It’s easy to close your eyes and imagine being swept over vast open plains as the notes caress you.
Over the top of this comes Buhre’s voice, which in many ways was always going to be the make or break for the album and in the first few lines his performances dismiss those worries as the gruff, but gentle tones, compliment the music. Part Ozzy in his delivery, but almost with a southern flavour that recalls Exhorder’s Kylie Thomas and his work on the solitary Floodgate album.
The intricate instrumental passages seem to drift off into a haze, almost orchestral with weeping strings one moment and then desert rock boogie meets psychedelic space rock flavoured jams the next. All of which are brought back into focus and anchored by the strong vocals.
Blood And Wine sounds like this incarnation of Goatess have been doing this for years. The chemistry between the members is fluid and deft, whether rocking out or creating naval gazing moments of beauty…
Those worrying about the line-up changes can put any fears to bed on the first track and from then on as it’s simply a case of dimming the lights, sparking up the Electric Lettuce and losing yourself in the mellow vibes as the strong rhythm interplay between Cornelian and drummer Kenta Karlbom underpins this whole record. This gives a solid platform that allows Niklas Jones to express his considerable talent on guitar.
There are the usual touchstone Kyuss tropes, Dead City is a more gritty straight forward slice of desert rock that feels a little more State side COC southern flavoured. The stop/start guitar verses drum and bass section and bouncing riff that will have the listener doing their best Wayne’s World before Jones, once again, takes the track by the scruff off the neck and demands you follow his fingers on another journey.
Elsewhere Goatess stamp home their avant-traditional doom influences as What Lies Beneath nods its head toward Symptom Of The Universe with the pounding drum patterns and chugging riffs that beg for Buhre’s upper register section. The ability to switch pace and tell triumphant tales of elder gods and shattered sanity cranks the tension until they explode into another smoked filled noodling jam.
Blood And Wine charts a steady course through all the possibilities; the frantic head down speed that surfaces on Dark Days, a monumental sized title track, the stomping Garcia like fun of Stampede and the breathy atmosphere of Jupiter Rising showing off a wide range of skills and ability to keep the listener guessing.
My only quibble is a slight one; on Dunerider the tales of wind swept deserts comes as a slight disconnect given I know the band’s origins. However if you were to stumble across the band without prior knowledge you would probably be struck by the sheer greatness of the track. Imagine the almost shoe gaze instrumental section is a highlight on the greatest album Kyuss never got to record.
Blood And Wine sounds like this incarnation of Goatess have been doing this for years. The chemistry between the members is fluid and deft, whether rocking out or creating naval gazing moments of beauty as they take the classic sounds of seventies influenced doom metal and gives it a modern up date by way of the desert. This is a seriously strong album and a statement of intent from the new line up.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden