Flower of Disease

Southern Lord

Downtempo doom metal — is the air slowly leaking out of this over-wrought genre, or is it just hormonal growth taking it from the angst ridden poetry stage and into the job application filling out stage? Goatsnake has been around for 14 years or so, and as their press release so helpfully points out “the songwriting and performance of the band showed an improved and elevated level.” I’m not sure what to make of that line; it’s a backhanded compliment if I ever heard one from a publicist. But I’ll give them this, they pick out clean, identifiable melodies and lead singer Pete Stahl has evolved to where Ozzy was in his post Black Sabbath period — ripped but controlled, with shredded vocal cords and equally shredded guitar chords from Greg Anderson and the dueling bass players Guy Pinhas and Scott Reeder.

Title track “Flower of Disease” takes a calm path as Stahl proclaims “I search for a way through all my tears to find a way to still my fears” which is actually a pretty line of verse. Introspection continues in “A Truckload of Mama’s Muffins” which might be a trucker’s hallucination — “Jacked up on caffeine, dragging my nuts through Valvoline, like the Flintstones they used their feet.” It’s mystical and mundane, yet it shines out clearly through the guitar flames. In decreasing order, I love the band’s name, I think their lyrics are decent, their playing competent, and their style derivative. Let’s hope they continue to elevate their level.

Goatsnake: www.myspace.com/goatsnake0

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