Written by: Volt Thrower
Unabashed stoner doom has always been one of my favorite things ever since I first heard Tony Iommi hacking up a lung on "Sweet Leaf," circa grade 9 out back behind the auto shops. But by now, the book on stoner doom has long been written and published. Through the annals of history, an innumerable amount of bands have knelt at the altar to pay homage with their Sabbathian smoke fueled riffage. Cliches, puns and cheesy lyric runs, all a staple of a genre intended for mind bending fun. Hailing from Kiel, Germany, Earthbong bring us their second full length Bong Rites. Will it bring us towards the crimson light, or will it fail to ignite?
First impressions are everything in a genre overflowing with copycats, and I was instantly pulled in by the album artwork. It reminds me of Slaves BC cover art, but just splashed with enough purple to remind you that you’re “Goddamn High” while being pummeled to death. The aforementioned album opener starts off with a thunderous intro that seems absolutely blistering in pace after it pulls the rug from beneath you, and you're left trudging through knee deep molasses. A hazy atmosphere built on swirling layers of guitar lulls you into a sense of zen before that too is swallowed whole by the demonic vocals rising from the crust of the earth. Two vocal styles, a Dixie Dave Collins like harsh bark and a barbaric cave-echoing howl, work together to deliver some of the finest dope doom riff worship of the new decade.
At around the ten-minute the track switches more to a drone style crush before collapsing on itself and feeding nicely into the soundscape of act two, “Weedcult Today.” The addition of some synth allows the band to feel out an even more expansive atmosphere, a cosmic sound lifting you up higher just so it can slam you back down to earth twice as hard. A droning sonic assault closes out what would be side b, with just enough variance on the riffs, and some light feedback to keep the listener engaged. One of my biggest nitpicks with the album is the listed track times. The closing track “Monks Blood” is listed at 30:45, while the two openers combine for 30:44. I mean come on! *jim_carrey_spitting_water.gif*. I'm assuming this will be resolved for the vinyl version should one be produced.
An absolutely mountainous slab of doom, the closing track also has some nice symmetry involved, seemingly split into two acts in the middle, without being so jarring as to disrupt the flow. Crushing riffs and howling vocals conjure up images of drug fueled monks, digging holes and packing bowls. The second half brings back the drone attack, fueled up with chants of ONE EARTH, ONE BONG! Which is also the title of their debut full length. By the time the album comes to a close with a synaptic pop, you’re unsure if that was a 4 minute washout of noise and feedback, or if that’s just the noise your brain makes now.
This definitely isn't your father's stoner doom. Whilst definitely a Slo Burn, these 3 mammoth tracks, spanning a full hour are more akin to if Sleep smoked some ketamine contaminated kush with Canadian crusters Dopethrone! Earthbong aren't going to, nor are they trying to reinvent the wheel with “Bong Rites,” but they've definitely managed to put their own harsh stamp on the genre, maybe somewhere in the book of revelations. All of the hallmarks are there, slow glacial riffs plodding across the land, bass and kick tones that could implode mountains. But underneath it all, there is this kraut-rock industrial metal tinge to the production, giving it some really nice depth and layers of sounds. Weed worship and some excellent harsh vocals make this an album worth checking out! For fans of: Sleep, Weedeater, Dopethrone, Electric Wizard.
Earthbong - Bong Rites will be released May 15th from Coffin Up Blood Records
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!