According to recent research, marijuana is still illegal in the UK. Quite how we’re supposed to fully appreciate the new Bongzilla album without first consuming industrial quantities of the stuff remains to be seen. Maybe fans of sludge and doom metal in California, Uruguay, or the Netherlands or could report back with accurate reports of the mind-melting effects of this band’s unmistakable riffs. It all seems terribly unfair.
Sixteen years have passed since the last Bongzilla album. Presumably, they were distracted by a pizza or simply forgot that they were in a band. These things happen. But either way, Weedsconsin confirms that absolutely nothing has changed in the band’s world. And thank fuck for that. Plenty of bands have harnessed a similar formula over the years, but this irresistibly loose-limbed and red-eyed take on lumbering Sabbathian sludge hits considerably harder when we know that the men responsible are majestically and ecstatically stoned themselves.
The laconic shuffle of opener Sundae Driver makes for a typically insouciant entry point, as if someone hit the ‘Record’ button by accident, midway through a strident hot-boxing of Bongzilla’s rehearsal room. In contrast, the anthemic Free The Weed feels focused, perhaps even strident by previous standards. Slumping halfway between Sleep’s all-out psych-doom and the pastoral trip-rock of Dead Meadow, it’s a glorious slab of gonzoid spliff-worship and a worthy anthem for any pro-pot-legalisation campaign.
The real psychedelic payload arrives with the crusty doom labyrinths of Space Rock, the three-part Earth Bong/Smoked/Mags Bags and the circular groove of closer Gummies. Despite a gritty, stripped down sound, these convoluted paeans to recreational foliage are thick with atmosphere and blearily hypnotic. At times, listeners may simply feel compelled to break the law and join Bongzilla’s stoner cult. Fuck it, this rules. Let’s get high.