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Bongzilla – Weedsconsin

Bongzilla
Weedsconsin
by Colin Wilson at 15 May 2021, 7:18 AM

Coming out of Wisconsin, US, we have BONGZILLA. Formed way back in 1995, the “Weed Metal” luminaries have once again risen to bring us their 5th studio album "Weedsconsin". The first proper studio album since 2005’s "Amerijuanican". After a lengthy hiatus and lineup change, it seems their own brand of psychotropic Sludge is still alive and kicking. Albeit different in power and presence there’s something to certainly make the ears stand up and pay attention to on this album.

Recently signed to Italian label Heavy Psych Records, I think we can all safely assume when two worlds meet in such harmony there could be something potentially major on the horizon for all parties concerned.

The first track on the album is suitably named "Sundae Driver". Now, I’m gonna take a stab in the dark and say the title comes from a late night munchie drive. Something that, in my time, was very fond of… but that’s another story.

The intro bursts into a marching beat with some nice sludgy sustained chords on guitar and bass. It’s the sort of sound and tone that make you utter the phrase “Holy Geezer Butlers burst bass cab Batman!” And the world has suddenly become a better place again. Bags and bags of that first SABBATH album feel and we are well and truly on a path we all sorely need in our lives again. This all leads to a nice tempo shift for the verse and vocals, culminates in a very nice jazz-like shuffle towards the end.

The second song is "Free The Weed". I like this one. There’s a nice steady groove throughout. A great guitar melody about half way, that I must admit is screaming out to have a second guitar harmony on top but that’s for my tastes. The vocals are a lot clearer on this song and that is a bonus, I must say. I’ve struggled to find clarity in the vocals so far, however the presence is certainly there. Some nice off beat drumming in there as well. All in all, not a bad song and I'm left curious to see what’s coming next.

Song 3, "Space Rock", changes the mood a little more to the Psychedelic realm. It’s a change that’s most certainly a nice breather at this point and I'd definitely class it as clever track listing. However, does it need to be 10:29 mins long? I know what you’re gonna say. “But isn’t that the nature of Stoner / Psychedelic Metal?” Well… It’s a little bit of "yes and no" for me. Yes, because who doesn’t love floating away in one's own fried skull? No, because I need a little more than stoned jamming to fill my bag. Don’t get me wrong here though. It’s still a good song, but in that length of time? I’d like to hear a little more trickery and innovation.

There’s a nice liquid 70’s feel intro that your lava lamp would love and it is a LONG intro but drives you nicely into a pretty cool downbeat riff around the 3:20 minute mark. It also have a nice whispering quality to the vocal tone, however, the lyric clarity isn’t quite cutting the mustard for me. The drums sound lovely in the quieter section later on with a really nice crisp snare in there too.


All in all, let’s just imagine BLACK SABBATH, KYUSS and PENTAGRAM had a weird threesome? You just know that SHOULD and probably WILL produce a new hybrid of BOBBY LIEBLING that you DO NOT feed past midnight. The vocals are salival and dominant I will say, but not my kind of lead vocal tone ultimately. My advice would be to have another harmony on there to add clarity to the lyrics.


The album cover is really cool and well-presented and the guys all seem like they’re having some fun being back at it. However, I need more from the songwriting and vocal melodies. The production could be a little better but must maintain its tasteful stylistic nature. I wish them all the best in the future though. Coz with a few tweaks here or there? I think the best is definitely yet to come.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 5
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Sundae Driver
2. Free The Weed
3. Space Rock
4. The Weedeater
5. Earth Bong / Smoked / Mags Bags
Lineup:
Mike “Muleboy” Makela – Bass, Vocals
Jeff “Spanky” Schultz – Guitar
Mike “Magma” Henry – Drums
Record Label: Heavy Psych Records
     


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Edited 17 June 2021
 

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