I first discovered Goatess back in 2014 when they headlined a gig in The Black Heart along with Serpent Venom and Sigiriya and it was a very memorable experience. Three different types of doom all working in perfect harmony to create a mind-blowing evening. Since then, Goatess have become one of my favorite stoner/doom style bands with 2016’s “Purgatory Under New Management” getting my pick for album of the year in 2016. Fast forward 3 years and with a new line up (bassist Findus and vocalist Chritus leaving and being replaced by Karl Buhre of Crucifyre and Samuel Cornelsen of Count Raven) the Swedish doomster’s are back in action with their new offering of “Blood And Wine”. With 9 tracks covering roughly 66 minutes, this colossal desert doom recording holds so much promise, so raise your glass and prepare.

Right off the bat, “Goddess” is typical Goatess. Hypnotic and rhythmic, the pulsing riff has a warm feel to it and soon enough you find yourself carried away by it. Vocally, Karl brings a different dimension to Chritus and it’s evident in how the softer edges which had a rich melody to them are now fuller and a bit more raw. This rawness combined with when the riffs really pound away make it a much more intense experience and this is demonstrated with this opening track. “Dead City” provides a fuzzier approach, embracing the desert rock elements present in Goatess’ influences, subtly mixing shades of Sleep, Sabbath and Kyuss. Yes, this description may be trope-laden for this style of music, but it is 100% true; you can feel the desert groove of Kyuss, you can embrace the smoke and riff of Sleep and you can headbang away with the Sabbathian thundering.

Further into the album, we come across “Dark Days” which packs quite a punch with its dirty blues vibes. You can feel the rawness in the delivery of the music and the rough edge to the vocal delivery and it works perfectly – simplistic, hook driven and hypnotic. “Dunerider” embraces the subtle groove of the desert rock and it takes you away to the sandy expanse with its laid back feel and solid rhythmic work. Exotic ringing cleans give way to a thick fuzz and a hypnotic melodic drone and the rich melodic sequences in the middle of the song are fantastic. “Stampede” is an aptly named track as it brings a massive groove driven sound which has a huge presence. Slick drum work, pounding guitar and basslines and a real sleazy rock and roll feel ooze from this track which is far more animated than the usual material you would expect from Goatess.

The real sweet spot of this album however is the eponymous closing track. “Blood and Wine” is the perfect summary of this album and probably one of the best songs to get someone to listen to if they have never heard Goatess before. Much like “Know Your Animal” from the first album ‘Goatess’ and “Wrath Of God” from the previous release; ‘Purgatory Under New Management’, “Blood and Wine” is an all round monster of a track. It has everything you want in it when it comes to this brand of stoner-doom. Heavy headbanging riffs delivered at a steady pace and exotic melodic progressions add a hypnotic and mesmerising effect which allows you to get lost in the musical moment; it truly embodies the Bacchanalian spirit the band seem to have embraced on this album. The high point has to be the all mighty riff break which begins at 3:40. The fade out into a monster of a riff rolls in with a sweet sounding descending pattern which both the guitar and bass synergise on. The powerful vocals command your attention while you ride the riff and for roughly 2 and a half minutes, you are simply one with the music. If this isn’t enough, after revisiting the intro/verse/chorus sequence again, a big drum spot at 8:00 signals the final run of the track – 6 minutes of doom-laden excellence. Pounding Sabbathian tinted stoner riffs, slick expressions of screaming wah-laced string bends and a colossal rhythm section impact brings this magnificent song and album to a close, and with it, the liberating musical experience Goatess provide with this release.

Raise your glass and partake in the musical festivities Goatess have brought with this release. “Blood and Wine” is one of THE essential albums of 2019!

(9.5/10 Fraggle)