I’ll always find it amusing that a band form LA is able to create a more southern soundscape than the large majority of southern based stoner doom bands. Even if they go a bit ham at times. The harmonicas, the southern church choirs, and bluesy riffs makes you feel like you’re right down in a the swamp of Louisiana. However what Goatsnake does differently, in the face of the mass movement to bluesify stoner doom, is to not forget the doom part. Make no mistake, this is a doom focused album, with stoner on the side. Personally speaking, I’ve always thought that’s how it should be. It’s stoner DOOM metal not doom stoner metal. Black Age Blues feels soulful, while also feeling a sense of despair and ugliness, as this kind of rank doom metal should. Goatsnake doesn’t lighten up on the guitar tone which so many other stoner doom bands do. You feel ever riff and every slam of the guitar. My one complaint would be that despite doing so many things right, at no point in this album does it make me feel “yeah, this is a top tier album”. I feel it’s all good stuff, but just that, good stuff. Nothing extra special spectacular that comes with the territory of an elite album. So while this is one of the best stoner doom albums of the year, I think it’s appropriate to leave it at that, rather than ranking it up into the AOTY category as so many have.