One of the more interesting band names to land in my inbox, it’s not just a couple of words from a brainstorming session or have a funny anecdote behind it. Nay, these Americans looked to a tale from Scottish folklore. With an unorthodox name and a sound inspired by the likes of Clutch and Mastodon, it grabbed my interest.
And it would appear my interest was well-founded. Not chasing fads or opting for the latest flavour of rock, Hogan’s Goat are much like their inspiration Clutch or bands like Rival Sons or God Damn; you can’t describe their sound. Hogan’s Goat sounds like Hogan’s Goat. You can hear the influences, the nods and the sound they’re chasing but ultimately, they want to occupy a niche all to their own. And whilst this debut is hot off the presses, you actually long for the follow-up to see what the evolution will be.
Kicking off with opener “Rat Boy”, the intro doesn’t sound like something you’d expect to hear from a band which draws from such influences. Then it kicks in. Marrying filthy grooves with massive riffs, it quickly moves more into a realm you’d expect. It’s a trick which they pull off again with “Shit Kicker”. Unsurprisingly, you’d expect this to be heavy enough to do precisely what the song is called. However, with a mellow and ominous start, it’s not until the chorus kicks in that it does indeed begin to kick the shit out of your ear drums. And you’ll likely end up with a crick in your neck as you constantly nod your head along to it.
Meanwhile, songs like “Over the Palisade” and “Drinkin’ With the Priest” up the ante. More intense than other tracks, as quick as a bullet and John Salmon’s vocals moving to a scream whilst the riffs from Donovan Bettisse and Thomas Banks have urgency baked into them. It’s a song like “Pennymade” which is indicative of the band’s sound, one I could hear on the radio and a song to send to someone who enquires about them. It’s Hogan’s Goat distilled into three minutes of raw rock fury.
However, most of the time, there’s a slower experience on offer. The band don’t particularly veer into ballad territory, finding a great middle ground. They also hit the polar opposite with “John Doe” as the band wind down, providing something more psychedelic-based and, at times, downright trippy. However, Salmon’s screams are likely to jolt you out of that trip before you hit a stupor.
One of the most overwhelming things to take away from Hogan’s Goat is how tight it is. It’s the sort of album you expect from a seasoned band, twenty years into a fruitful career and again, it makes you want the next album to hear what heights they’ll hit.
Hogan’s Goat have a brilliant album in their debut and given to the right ears, it’ll serve them well. Whilst their sound is flavoured by their inspirations, they’ve got something which is truly unique. Blues, Southern and a hefty dollop of heaviness for good measure. Add in the fact they’re damn good at making their own brand of noise and they could be occupying a much bigger space in the world than they are at the moment.
Hogan’s Goat is out now