Flower of Disease (Southern Lord)
The impeccably credentialed Goatsnake, a sludgy doom-rock quartet founded in 1996 that featured past and future members of the Obsessed, Sunn O))), and Burning Witch, produced just two albums during its initial five-year run. And the Nick Raskulinecz-produced landmark Flower of Disease from 2000 is now considered a minor genre classic—hard to find, but just reissued in the wake of the band's reunion earlier this year.
The hallmark of Raskulinecz's production is that he guides bands toward a clarity of purpose, such that even the heaviest and sludgiest acts are able to sculpt wholly realized songs and melodies from a molten core of post-Sabbath guitar mayhem. And Goatsnake gave him their best; singer Pete Stahl doesn't have the high-end chops of some top-drawer vocalists, but he has versatility and emotive power within his range that won't be ignored, whether he's moaning the title track's incantatory death knell or spitting hallelujah hell-for-leather on "Live to Die." And while the band has the requisite familiarity with the Black Sabbath catalog, the Sabbath moves are well-tempered by other frames of reference—early Sub Pop, propulsive mid-'90s desert rock, other '70s outfits. More than just great riffs, Flower of Disease has variety, real songcraft, and a keen sense of dynamics. If you're a stoner-rock aficionado, grab a copy of the reissue before it disappears again.