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Wonder what these guys smoke? Don't. - 60%

Arkkiperkele, May 19th, 2007

Bongzilla. What a name for a band. I stumbled upon these fellas pretty much due to a random recommendation on the internet. Judging from the title of their albums, this band seems to be chronically obsessed with the whole stoner thing and sweet Mary J. I've not heard anything else from Bongzilla, but could imagine that they've had a pretty consistent career, for good and for worse.

First of all, this album would deserve a decent top mark if it was judged on its musical merits alone. For a stoner record, it's one hell of a piece of sludge. Riffage is just absolutely spaced out and groovy, making up nicely for brutal vocals that really sound like the singer had been spending time with the bong. This is not exactly the most original stoner record or band. They rely very deeply on the standard Sabbath-Iommi-rip-off with maybe a tinge of blues to give a bit mellow edge to their onslaught. Yet musically, this is one of the strongest stoner/sludge albums I've come across.

But if you ask me, all this flies straight out of the window when you grab the album, look at the cover and the lyrics. Although Gateway shares a lot of things with other stoner metal albums, it is just so ludicrously over the top that I very much fear that the fellas in Bongzilla might not be joking after all. You've got a devil smoking weed in the cover. Then there are song titles like Greenthumb, 666 lb. Bongsession (an instrumental that pretty much is what is says) or Hashdealer. The lyrics talk about...weed. The message Bongzilla is putting through is such an obsessed praise for weed that it pretty much kills the charm of the album.

In defense you could say that when Electric Wizard did Dopethrone, they also had this horned guy smoking a pipe. Electric Wizard wasn't too subtle about their choice of herb either. The thing is that whereas Dopethrone is a stoner/doom monument, an defining album as such, Gateway is merely one among the dozens. Bongzilla does their thing good, but have nothing new to give musically, and the ridicilous imagery simply works against them.