Black Age Blues

Doom blues don’t get any better than the church crushing abandon of Goatsnake.  ¾ of the original line-up return sans bassist Guy Pinhas (replaced by Scott Renner), and the boys haven’t lost a step.  Jesus Christ, Greg Anderson’s riffs make me want to get down on my knees and say the lord’s prayer, vocalist Pete Stahl is all soul n’ boozy blues belted from the depths of the medicine cabinet and Greg Rogers is still one of the hardest hitters in the genre.  I mean…the combined resume is awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping stuff…Thorr’s Hammer, The Obsessed, Burning Witch, Scream, Wool, Teeth of the Lions Rule the Divine, Sunn O)))…these cats have been around the block and I still consider their Man’s Ruin releases classics that any entry level doom fan should get acquainted with pronto.

Returning to ideas formulated for an older tune “The River (on the 2nd LP, Flower of Disease), opener “Another River to Cross” features baroque piano by Mathias Schneeberger, country-tinged acoustic guitar and sampled washes of water that whip into a tidal riff frenzy of Cathedral-sized, bluesy bombast with Pete’s expressive, vibrato curled power croons giving the music an edge that’s all soul.  His lyrics always had a snarling, tongue-in-cheek Ian Gillan kind of thing going, though he’s way more Earthy in tone.  The backing gospel chorale provided via Dem Preachers’ Daughters kick in gorgeously during the chorus where Stahl calls them into action with a shout of “Everybody,” as he leads them to revelation.  Rogers pounds the drums with the strength of a wrecking ball crashing into an abandon building, providing the foundation for Anderson to rebuild razed structures into riffs so high they form a ladder to Heaven.  Scott’s low-end groove ensures the tectonic weight never slides out of the groove.  This ain’t death, black, thrash or anything extreme, though damn does it have an impact.

“Elevated Man” puts a spur in the pacing’s ass, the groove buoyant and battle-ready, thanks to the Greg’s drumming cycling busy polyrhythms on the toms and the riffage getting caught up in a nice chunky flow.  The chorus is a blue-eyed crooner of massive proportions.  Man’s Ruin fans will rejoice to hear THAT sound alive and well in 2015.  A little mouth-harping (Pete’s doing) only enhances the riverside blues as the riff crunches harder than my morning cereal.  Following hot on its heels, “Coffee & Whiskey,” Stahl’s voice stretches Rocky Mountain high in a belting fashion befitting of Caputo, Danzig, Morrison, Bobby Liebling and Leslie West in a blender.  There’s a dirty wah/fuzz solo in the second half spicing the mix with hot pepper and hellfire.

Rogers’ deadlocked snare-march welded to a classic Iommi/Jennings lick careens into furious swings of the doom groove pendulum on the title track.  Those tones are juicy as fuck and major props to producer Nick Raskulinecz for his attention to each instrument (the bass especially shines in the limelight here).  The riff at 4:08 is more fortified than an English castle’s dungeon, possibly the same one that Sabbath used for Sabbath Bloody Sabbath rehearsals, as it’s pumped through a Gaz Jennings’ filtration system.  Those gospel vocal-backups return to the proceedings on the mid-tempo, Mezoic doom dirge “House of the Moon.”  They still don’t forget the devil’s tritone blues swing.  It’s certainly among my favorite tracks all told and ushers in an UNGODLY heavy second half where your constitution is literally faced with one sanity sucking bastard after another including “Grave,” “Grandpa Jones” and perhaps the Snake’s mightiest riff-ride to date, the demolishing dirt boogie, “A Killing Blues.”  Only “Jimi’s Gone” dares to speed the plow with another head-banger of vulture-pecked, good-time stoner rock.

Black Age Blues is a motherfucker of a return album.  In my opinion, it’s as good as anything in the band’s back catalog with the toughest recording job they’ve had yet.  This shit will leave you catatonic at sunrise…unable to move from the steamroller of doom that flattened your brain far beyond midnight.  A much welcome and long overdue return for a band that newer fans of the low and slow should go wild over and help them forget all of that The Sword silliness.  As for the already converted; your Holy Grail has arrived!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
July 2nd, 2015


  1. Commented by: Zach

    Killer album!

  2. Commented by: Jay

    Right on Zach! These guys came back in a big way. I was nuts about this stuff in the Man’s Ruin days…still am now, so glad they could drop a record that lived up to some pretty big expectations.

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