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Transcendental sludge doom metal worship - 75%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, October 9th, 2012

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.