Trampled Under Hoof (Southern Lord)
by Brian Varney
A cry from beyond, this five-song EP (three newbies plus St. Vitus and Black Oak Arkansas covers previously released on rare comps) comes something like four years after the last Goatsnake release, during which time most folks just assumed ’em gone forever, what with the rhythm section splitting, guitarist Greg Anderson busying himself with other projects like Sunno))) and the running of Southern Lord, and vocalist Pete Stahl crooning for the markedly different Orquesta del Desierto. The appearance of new Goatsnake material is a cause for both celebration and complaint: Celebration because it’s new material from a really good band thought to be gone forever and the addition of former Kyuss bass-slinger Scott Reeder to the lineup, and complaint because of its brevity. Four years is a long time to wait for a lousy three songs, even if they’re good ones. Hopefully, they’ll scoot a little quicker for the next release, because at their current pace, it’ll be 12 years before they have enough material for a full-length.
For those not familiar with the ass-dragging beauty of the unique brand of heavy that Goatsnake calls its own, look forward to monstrous guitar riffs played in a tone so crushing that it could very conceivably cause spinal defects in those who stand within a few hundred feet of the stacks at the show. But imagine those riffs played in a surprisingly musical context, and supported by a more-agile-than-it-appears rhythm section and, most incongruously of all, topped by super-smooth clean vocals. Maybe it’s the sound of a Foghat record playing at quarter speed, or maybe it’s just a buncha disparate elements thrown together with just the right intercession of grace to make it not the trainwreck these words make it sound like, but something both brutal and beautiful, something monolithic that can hop and skip and dance the boogaloo.