Purgatory Under New Management isn’t just a fine choice of album title, it’s the second full length of Sabbathian doom drenched with blues jams and psychedelia from Sweden’s Goatess. Overall it’s not a far stretch from their extremely good self-titled debut, however the band has pulled back slightly on the heavy crunch and leaned more into the ‘experience’ here. It’s a more cohesive album overall that has this hypnotic, gravitational pull that’s hard to shake and even harder to put down.
The lineage of this band runs deep with Lord Vicar, Count Raven, and even very early Saint Vitus to name a few. With that in mind, it was almost expected of this band to be a doom force to reckon with. After a false start in 2009 as Weekend Beast the band changed their name in 2012 to the more palette friendly Goatess. Good choice by any and all standards. And even better that it marked a new chapter that would find the band with a heavy slab of doom for a debut. It had the crunch, the riffs, and — more to the point — the balls to garner listeners from all ages, young and old.
While this album shares the same traits, the band experiment with time and space on their stretched out and off-kilter jams. “Crocodilians and Other Creepy Crawlin Shh…” is one such track showcasing space rock, jagged bass lines, and neo-psychedelia. Later, the back half of “Wrath of God” is much the same but quieter and more ambient in demeanor. Ok, so this is a far stretch from their debut but it’s an ambitious and unexpected move. And initially this move has a tremendous wow factor. But on repeat spins it’s precisely these moments that feel a little overcooked. It’s as if they’re trying a bit too hard here and as such this ends up being the only weakness on this otherwise strong outing.
The title track plays right into the Sabbath and Vitus realm with long, slow, and drawn out riffs accentuated by lumbering percussion. Plus Christian Linderson’s vocals are at times a dead ringer for early Ozzy, little doubt this is the first time that’s been noticed but the good thing about it is his range is such that you never get tired of it. He has a huge range and can hit notes that would make even a so-so doom song soar. As effortless as the band moves through the doom pantheon they are equally as good on the bluesy foot-tappin’ rocker “Shadowland” and further make the case that the band is well rounded and possess some serious chops.
Besides the experimental forays here the biggest difference from their debut is in the better production. The fuzzy guitar tones are extremely rich and the bass is more up front in the mix making it a better fit this time out for the type of sound this band champions. Same for the drums; crisp and punchy with just the right amount of cymbal usage.
Despite the small hiccup of psychedelic repetitiveness, Goatess still lay down extremely nod-worthy doom and fuzz pedaled stoner metal on Purgatory Under New Management. For some it may prove better than their debut but there is little doubt this album will appeal to anyone with a penchant for Iommiesque riffs and heavy handed grooves.