I got decent mileage out of Purgatory of New Management, the sophomore album from Sweden’s Goatess. Playing a style of bluesy heavy rock meets thunderous stoner doom, Goatess pulled off a solid album. A couple of line-up changes and roughly three and half years later, Goatess return with another slab of earthly delights via their third album, Blood and Wine. Veteran vocalist Chritus Linderson (ex-Saint Vitus, Lord Vicar) brought his ragged, Ozzy-esque pipes to Purgatory, however on this occasion vocal duties are handled by Karl Buhre (Crucifyre), who brings a distinctly different style to the fold. Buhre has a rough, rowdy and weathered singing style that actually fits the part quite well, recalling a less refined Neil Fallon (Clutch). Otherwise the musical template hasn’t drastically changed and Goatess remain content to plug away with meaty slabs of raucous stoner doom and trippy jams.
With tones as murky as three week old bong water and riffs as thick as oak tree trunks, Goatess nail the sonic aesthetics that stoner doom enthusiasts crave. At a whopping 65 minutes in length, Goatess don’t hold back in vomiting their ideas into one marathon package. There’s decent variety within their chosen style and thankfully the more upbeat vibes and stoner cadence generally avoids plodding monotony. Certainly not content to do things in half measures, opener “Goddess” is an eight minute epic to kick off the album. Although the necessity of the song length is debatable, it’s a strong showcase for Buhre’s no-frills but endearing vocals, while the darker, melancholy tone and monolithic doom riffs largely hit the spot, winding down with some nice psychedelic embellishments.
The merging of groovy stoner doom and chilled out noodling is a tactic utilized regularly throughout the album, yielding mostly solid results. “What Lies Beneath” shifts from slow burning doom into a head-bobbing stoner rock groove and dreamy climax. When they mix up tempos and show some restraint, Goatess are at their most potent, evidenced on the riff driven grooves of “Black Iron Mark” and swaggering jam of the aptly titled “Stampede.” Buhre’s vocals are nothing out of the ordinary, yet his enthusiastic delivery, solid phrasing and swaggering style fits the music well and he knows his way around a decent vocal hook. The rest of the band acquit themselves admirably, from the groove-laced cushioning of the rhythm section, to the solid guitar work featuring fat, bluesy riffs, jammy solos and trippy, melodic detours that borrow from stoner, doom and psychedelic rock in almost equal measure.
Perhaps a predictable criticism but valid one nonetheless, the album’s duration is a hindrance that slightly detracts from the album’s strengths. There are no time wasting interludes or outright stinkers present, though some of the excessive jamming on tracks like “Jupiter Rising” and 14 minute closer “Blood and Wine” overstay their welcome, adding unnecessary bloat. And as solidly entertaining as the bulk of songs tend to be, the songwriting falls short of higher honors, despite the strong collective efforts of each band member. Flaws aside, there’s still much to enjoy on Blood and Wine, especially for those in the mood for some feelgood doom minus an overload of forlorn gloom.
Overall, Blood and Wine is an epic, flawed but frequently fun listen, a handy soundtrack for lazy road trips or pounding brews on a sunny afternoon. Goatess have delivered a solid slab of jammy stoner doom, hardly groundbreaking stuff, yet well worth a listen for those inclined towards their endearing style.