Goatsnake – Trampled Under Hoof EP

Trampled Under Hoof EP

Goatsnake is one of the many bands to rise from the ashes of the Obsessed and originally featured former members Guy Pinhas (bass) and Greg Rogers (drums) as well as Pete Stahl (vocals) and Greg Anderson (guitar). The group released a bunch of material and was often hailed as the best new stoner-rock band to come out of California in the late 90s. Then the band completely fell off of most people’s radar.

Four years later, the group is back with some new songs and a few new members. This time around, Stahl and Anderson are joined by Scott Reeder (bass) and JR (drums). It’s a piecemeal effort, but one that isn’t overtly obvious while listening. Trampled Under Hoof’s three new tracks came to life in 2002 with Anderson and JR laying down the original tunes. For some reason, more than two years went by before Stahl came in to add the vocals and Reeder (Kyuss, Obsessed) laid down the bass work. Perhaps the holdup was due to Greg Anderson’s commitments to his label, Southern Lord, or the inability to find adequate replacements for Pinhas and Rogers, but either way Trampled Under Hoof is well worth the wait.

Although this is an EP, only three of the disc’s five tracks are new. From the sludge that hits you on the first note of “Portraits of Pain,” it is clear that Goatsnake is moving away from simple stoner rock and into something much heavier. Anderson’s guitar is tuned down into the realm of muck and mire. As with previous releases, Pete Stahl’s vocals are perfect for this type of music – completely intelligible, but solid. “Black Cat Bone” picks up the pace a bit before progressing into the nine-minute epic “Juniors Jam.” The faint strains of a harmonica coupled with animal sounds near the end of the song serves as a nice break before the two covers on the EP.

Neither of the cover songs are new – they are just a bit harder to come by in the Goatsnake catalogue. Both were recorded with the band’s original lineup still intact. Up first is a cover of Saint Vitus’ “Burial at Sea” which also appeared on the group’s split with Burning Witch from 2000. The tastiest offering on Trampled Under Hoof is easily “Hot Rod” – a cover of a Black Oak Arkansas song from 1973’s Raunch & Roll Live. This gem is probably unknown by younger fans, but Goatsnake created an absolutely stellar rendition for their final track.

It’s hard to tell whether Goatsnake is making a onetime appearance or if there will be more releases in the future. Having one band member with his own label likely makes it easier to put out material as infrequently or as often as you like. Stoner-rock fans have waited a long time for Trampled Under Hoof, and after hearing this EP, they won’t want to wait much longer for the next release.