Was it really the best part of four whole years ago that Goatess released their excellent eponymous first album? A quick look at the back of the CD sleeve assures me that this is the case. But could it be so long, considering how fresh the album is? A second more technical check of the play counter on my iTunes (other music playing programs are available) shows that since first ripping the disc that it has been played a hell of a lot, which is why it seemed so fresh in my mind. Undoubtedly a hard debut to follow, so how does the new release ‘Purgatory Under New Management’ stack up? Read on gentle reader and find out.
The album commences in a suitably epic fashion with the ten minute plus psychedelic trip of ‘Moth To Flame’, the trippy opening guitar licks complimenting legendary Count Raven and Saint Vitus front man Chritus Linderson whose vocals are as strong and clean as they have ever been, strengthened rather than weakened by thirty years of performing. A few minutes into the track and the hippy idyll is kicked to one side by a timeless riff ably supported by a battering of bass and drums. ‘Moth To Flame’ is an instant classic, a song that could have as easily crawled from the fog of sixties Sabbathian proto-metal as from 2016. However, this opener is not a fluke, and the following title track continues in cracking form with a sound bite about the Christian appropriation of older religions over a low slow and fuzzed out crusher of a guitar line, perfectly matching the leaden heaviness of the bass and melancholic drum beat, all before Linderson’s pained voice takes up the story.
Whilst only featuring eight tracks, ‘Purgatory Under New Management’ runs at well over an hour, and each track is allowed to develop and grow at their own pace rather than getting trimmed down to a radio friendly single format. A prime example of this is ‘Crocodilians and Other Creepy Crawling Shhh…’, a foggy stoner number devoid of lyrics, instead populated only by the grunts and cries of wild animals and a snatch of narration from a nature documentary, albeit read more in the tones of Vincent Price than David Attenborough. My inadequate description of the track may make it sound like some egotistical example of self-indulgence, but the the looping hypnotic sounds fit the album perfectly, and if you like the meandering instrumental breaks of The Doors, this is bound to hit the right note with you. The pace ups with ‘Shadowland’, the track being a comparative sprint at a scant five and a half minutes, a solid groove being added to the sound as the bass line thunders to the forefront, delivering a sound that demands the banging of heads and punching of fists into the air. More riff worshipping is delivered on the closing three tracks of the album, and there will inevitably be comparisons to a certain legendary metal band that is currently embarked on a farewell tour. Those comparisons are not unfair, as the way Goatess plays does bring to mind Sabbath at the height of their powers. The major difference is that I was lucky enough to catch Goatess live before in Camden’s infamous Black Heart a couple of years ago, and Linderson’s voice is not ruined and does not need any kind of artificial augmentation.
Sometimes I get asked the pub question “what is the perfect album?” This is of course an impossible question to answer definitively, as tastes can change with mood, and what may be perfect listening one day, isn’t the next. What I can say, however, is that with ‘Purgatory Under New Management’ Goatess have produced the closest I’ve heard to a perfect Doom LP all year. If you like doom, or just want to hear brilliant and timeless musicianship, I really cannot recommend this album to you any more highly. 2016 is going to have to be awash with incredible albums for there to be any chance of Goatess being dislodged from my top three albums come the inevitable end of the year list; with this new album Goatess have a whole new set of songs that demand to be played, and I’ll be damned if I don’t want to not just hear the songs from a stereo, but feel them battering me live.