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Seems that an album of all-instrumental sludge doom metal isn't common; even bands like Boris, Corrupted and Sunn0))) haven't released many albums of slow, deathly doom without voices all that much. The splendidly titled Bongripper of Chicago though has carved out a career entirely based on voiceless epic doom metal soundscapes and the aptly named album "Satan Worshipping Doom", with its track titles that look like a subliminal message, is another milestone in the band's journey through a dark and gloomy part of the Doom Country.
Opening track "Hail" throws the listener straight into the deep end of the territory: thick, slow rivers of sludge low-end bass and guitar lava ooze and pour out of the speakers with the drummer keeping time and encouraging the morass to move faster by banging his cymbals. The music gradually grows faster with stops and starts to tantalise the listener and new riffs are introduced as the track continues. The pace is astonishingly brisk and very determined by the halfway point. The track changes quite a lot in its second half as effects are brought in as a counterpoint to the otherwise relentless advance of the lava stream. Guitar and bass textures are very raw and thick. Towards the end, searing guitar feedback tones intensify the track's surging drive and the drumming speeds up as well.
I had expected "Satan" to be an organic development from "Hail" but the track starts very differently with a choppy rhythm. This is indeed a strongly rhythmic track with an early chuggy passage followed by a much slower section where there is as much space in the music as those droning guitar tones are long. About the eighth minute the track changes and suddenly feels light with steely guitar melodies dominating for a short time. Just as "Satan" broke with "Hail", so does "Worship" break with "Satan", being a texturally thicker piece, more solemn in mood and appearing more monolithic in form. A solo guitar melody touched with reverb brings a distinctive ambience to the track: it is dark and slightly mournful in sound. As the previous tracks do, "Worship" pushes on and on, building up intensity, possessed of a life-force its own. Near the end, the track develops another rich, jewel-like layer of dark-toned guitar riffs that, in spite of the shower of noise and grit, sounds surprisingly clear.
"Doom" seems to sum up everything that has gone before it and is quite a majestic track. Compared with the other tracks, it has a more monotonous, minimalist structure and relies on constant repetition which escalates the tension and expectation that something grand will happen at the very end. Something does and it's very like a miraculous rapture into another, richer dimension.
The music is very mesmerising and trancey and you don't have to reach out for a bong to get into another mental zone though that does help. The surging energy in all four tracks helps to keep listeners spellbound all the way in spite of breaks between pieces. I'd have liked a few more pure-toned and sparkling blues-tinged guitar solo melodies in a couple of tracks to add some variety and a mystical quality to what can be very crushing and unrelenting sludge doom. I also would have preferred all four tracks to be linked to make up one enormous opus of ever-changing and evolving sludge doom devil worship, I think the entire album might have worked better that way as a soundtrack to a ritual. Can't have everything my way, I guess. As it is, "Satan Worshipping Doom" is a very good album if you need something heavy, epic and transcendental in your life.
The idea of a band releasing albums full of doom metal instrumentals ranging anywhere from forty seconds to eighty minutes may sound like an odd strategy to some, but Bongripper has pulled it off six times now without breaking a sweat.
This album has only four tracks: "Hail", "Satan", "Worship", and "Doom", each spanning more than ten-minutes in length. The harsh, epic, menacing sound of these songs is difficult to describe; the closest I can get is saying that if DXM were a metal album, it would be Bongripper's Satan Worshipping Doom.
In spite of this album's lack of vocal tracks, the concept of the album is clear: Unlike the drug-obsessed sludge of previous Bongripper releases, this one is an ode to hardcore Satanism. The hypnotic beats and overtly devil-worshipping cover art and song titles more than let us know. Not only is this change in concept refreshing, it's pretty fucking cool.
The songs on this album are slow, menacing, and fucking awesome, especially when combined with a fat sack of weed or (better yet) a refreshing bottle of DXM cough syrup. (Yeah, I know how that sounds, but seriously, give it a try! You'll be surprised.)
The one bad thing about this album is that the production seems to falter just a little bit in some areas. For the most part, the album is a heavy, heavenly, drug-induced euphoria, but there are moments when the ambiance feels just a tiny bit ahead of the rest of the album, though this is rare and completely unnoticeable if you're under the influence of drugs (and you're supposed to be under the influence of drugs while you listen to Bongripper).
Despite some minor inconsistencies in the production, Bongripper is one of the most original and talented underground doom metal artists out there, despite not having lyrics or vocals of any kind. This album is excellent from start to finish, and is one of the most masterful albums I've had the pleasure of listening to in a long time. Hail, Satan.
“Satan Worshipping Doom" is the sixth album from Chicago based instrumental doom band Bongripper. The album consists of four tracks, and just under an hour worth of dramatic and varied dark doom matter that weaves in elements of black metal, post rock and all manner atmospheric metal craft.
The four tracks on offer here last between just under the twelve minute mark, to just over the sixteen minute mark a piece. Each track here is fairly varied and shifting in its feel - the opener “Hail” moves from groovy and sludge mid-paced to chugging doom, through to pained cymbal heavy head banging meaty doom riff dwells. The second track “Satan” opens with shimmering black metal meets post rock sheen before breaking out into clamouring yet well produced black metal riffing. As the track goes on we touch down into: faster doom chugs, thrash meets doom riff down ‘n’ dirtiness, and mean/dark slower doom riff-outs.
Track number three “Worship” begins with cymbal battered, mid-pace and demonic sounding doom riffing. Before kicking-up a gear into more prime evil and slightly groove bound meets slower death metal evilness. Later on the track drifts into a wall of mid-paced chugging doom that has this great psychedelic rock lead guitar fizzing and calling over the top, and this lead work has an almost middle eastern tinged to it.
The last track “Doom” starts out with a very slow, nasty and spread out doom chug that’s barely moving; in between each riff chug are these great meaty feed back sustains. As the track progresses the band add on this great buzzing and circling sheen of atmospheric feed-back fog to the slowly building doom riff- which becomes tighter and more airless as it progresses. Towards the end of the track the buzzing and circling guitar textures become more shrill, evil and intense as the track builds to a great crescendo.
All told this is very enjoyable, often memorable and atmospheric doom record that mangers to vary and shift through most varieties of doom you can think of. So if you enjoy your doom mixed in pace and darkly embellished with other metallic genre traces then “Satan Worshipping Doom" is certainly for you.
Originally posted at www.musiquemachine.com
In the realm of instrumental sludge and doom metal, there is one band that rules all with an iron fist. That band is Bongripper. Formed in 2005, the band has worked hard, creating five previous albums. Their sixth, Satan Worshipping Doom has arguably become their best piece 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 recognize, and became accustomed with, their unique sound, which is saying quite a bit, since originality seems to be one of the hardest traits 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 plays 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 also 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 particularly good 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 its builds into climactic, heavy riffs that sound inspired and original.
The timing and pacing of this album is one of, if not, the best qualities Satan Worshipping Doom has to offer. The riffs themselves sound unique and fresh, as well as reminiscent of earlier doom metal acts such as Pentagram 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 that 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 album sounds kick ass!
My only miniscule complaint with this album is that there is a complete lack of vocals on this release, unsurprising for an instrumental release! I have a preference for high pitched 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.
Let me preface this by saying that instrumental doom, in any of its various incarnations, is not always the easiest thing to pull off. A lot of bands in the genre get away with making utterly boring and lifeless music, doing nothing to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. But when a band tackles this genre and does it well -- I mean really well -- it can be some of the most powerful and crushing shit you can subject your ears too.
That's where Chicago's Bongripper enters the picture. Since the band's inception in 2005, these guys have been all over the map experimenting with all that is heavy. Their monolithic debut full-length The Great Barrier Reefer is still one of my all-time favorite sludgy doom albums and the perfect record to rock while passing around the blunt (or bong, as the case may be). And since that album's release in 2006, these guys have been very busy.
Just a year after their debut, they released the cleverly titled fan favorite Hippie Killer. The band then went on to explore a different angle with an all drone/noise album simply titled Heroin (perhaps the best packaging ever), which was followed up in 2008 with Hate Ashbury, an album that attempted to mix the crushing groove and doom sound of their early releases with the spaciness and dirt of their noise material.
Now, after five years of experimenting and refining their sound, Bongripper is back with a double LP that captures all of the band's strengths, without any of the fat. From the downtrodden and sluggish riffage to the more textured and effects-laden ambient sounds -- SATAN WORSHIPPING DOOM incorporates the very best that Bongripper has to offer, with everything in its right place.
The first track, "Hail," kicks things off with a very nice groove that will inevitably get your head nodding. The riff builds up so effortlessly that you don't even notice the subtle changes, and before you know it you've arrived at the next point in the song. Bongripper has always been good at navigating the listener through the swells and chuggs, and here they pull it off with the ease and confidence to rival any stoner metal vet. After the buildup, a short bridge comes in to showcase the bass in all of its distorted and chunky low-end goodness.
Which brings me to a definite high-point (no pun intended) of this album - the bass and guitars sound great. Each has a tone that's as thick as the smoke-filled room you stoners are sitting in right now, but they sit together well in the mix. Over the course of the album, one never really takes away from the other, which is all-important for an instrumental outfit like this.
"Satan" is my second favorite on the album and the one that stands out the most from all of the rest. After an intense buildup, the band breaks off into something a little faster with a riff that some may liken to a band like Krallice or Wolves in the Throne Room. The guys then take it back down a notch with a riff that sounds very old-school death metal to me, but fits just right with the style and feel of the rest of the album. After throwing some more signature grooves in there, the song ends on a high note with an outro that has a classic stoner metal feel to it (more along the lines of Sleep). While this track might stand out from the others, it doesn't reflect negatively on the overall feel of the album. It's definitely still Bongripper.
My absolute favorite song on SATAN WORSHIPPING DOOM is, without a doubt, "Worship." This song takes everything that I've come to know and love about this band and packages it neatly together in one 18 minute opus. The doom riffs are there in full and while the style of gradually changing/building upon a main riff (theme) is still present, the variations here, and on the rest of the album, span a larger spectrum than some of their previous work. The band utilizes all of their talents - and their effects - and pieces them together to create a song that flows in and out between the utterly heavy and the trance-inducing. I'd love to hear this song played live.
In conclusion, I have nothing but good things to say about this double LP. This is definitely the Bongripper that you've been waiting for. These guys have managed to take the best parts of their style and present them together in their most well-written songs to date. Everything you love about Bongripper is intact; it's just gotten better. It's amazing how under the radar these guys are considering how great the music is, but I am starting to see their name in more places. With some good distribution and a little buzz, this album could be the one that does it for them.
Smoke dust. Hail Satan.