Album: Satan Worshipping Doom
In the realm of instrumental sludge and doom metal, there is one band that rules all with an iron fist. That band, of course, is Bongripper. Formed in 2005, the band has worked hard, creating five previous albums. Their sixth, Satan Worshipping Doom has arguably become their best pieces of work to date, surpassing their 2008 fan-favorite, Hate Ashbury. So you may be asking yourself, what separates their newest album from all the rest? Here's the answer:
Having been a fan of Bongripper for about a year now, I've come to recognized and become accustom to their unique sound (Which is saying quite a bit, since originality is one of the hardest things for a sludge or doom band to possess). Each of their albums contains a certain quality that sets the atmosphere for all the songs, as well as playing into the title of the release. Bongripper keeps this formatting for Satan Worshipping Doom, but the concept of this album (That being satanic worship) gives the band a fresh fulfilling sound, while still staying true to the music they have produced in the past. This aspect of the album shows signs of not only great musicianship, but of growth within the band.
While Bongripper's earlier albums such as The Great Barrier Reefer and Heroin seemed to be focused around a central theme of drugs, this four-track album stands apart from their previous work by giving you a front row seat to a roughly 54 minute satanic ritual that possesses you to do nothing more than give your soul to Satan and bang your head in sheer delight.
Since originality doesn't come easy in any form of music, sludge and doom metal being a perfect example, bands need to know the music they are writing inside and out to ensure that the album will not only fit the genre they are aiming for, but offer the listeners something new as well. Instead of selling out and giving listeners something more generic while calling it a fresh change of sound, Bongripper sticks to a format that has done them well for six albums now. Playing at slow and plodding paces (With the exception to the second track, “Satan,” which opens with a very interesting black metal riff), the band focuses on their builds into climactic, heavy riffs that sound inspired and original. The timing and pacing of this album is one of, if not, the best quality Satan Worshipping Doom has to offer. The riffs themselves sound unique and fresh, as well reminiscent of earlier doom metal acts such as Pentegram or Candlemass. Another fresh aspect to the music on this album is the memorable, perfectly placed, psychedelic guitar solos that are presented in the tracks “Satan” and “Worship.” These solos play into the dark, evil tone of the album as well as flaunting the skills of axe-men Dennis Pleckham and Nick Dellacroce in their playing and writing abilities.
The last thing that makes this album particularly great, is of course, the production. While some sludge bands, such as EYEHATEGOD or Sourvein, choose to revel in their sloppy production, Bongripper takes the clean cut approach to how this album sounded. The mix on the album makes it so all all the instruments are audible at all times, and that the concept of the album can fully blossom. What I'm trying to say is, the albums sound kicks ass.
My only miniscule complaint with this album is that there are a lack of vocals on this release. I have a preference for high screams in the type of music that Bongripper plays, but in all honesty, I wouldn't have this album any other way. It's damn near flawless as is. So, if you are someone like me, who enjoys screaming with your sludge, don't let the absence of vocals scare you away from this album. The subtexts buried deep within the riffs and drum beats give this album the missing personality that is usually gained from a vocalist.
If you are at all a fan of groovy, slow paced music, I would highly recommend this album. It's not only one of Bongripper's best, but it is also very accessible for first time listeners to get into the band. Regardless of how deep into sludge or doom metal you get, this release will not disappoint. Bongripper displays the necessary talent to be one of the driving forces in todays sludge scene. They will not be silenced.