Bong – Stoner Rock

Ritual Productions

Rs 850 (CD); Rs 120 (MP3)

Sometimes, the best musicians in the world aren’t necessarily just the ones who can do a lot with their instruments. If you’ve been a fan of doom, sludge or stoner rock, it almost seems like that kind of mind-expanding music is more about what the instrument does to you. Bong, a five piece band from Newcastle Upon Tyne, lead their instruments into a trance like no other, for over an hour and the result is their new album, Stoner Rock.

What’s weirder is that Bong is not a stoner rock band, and the album title is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the over-generalisation of band names. So the moral of the story is, don’t judge a band even by its name. Unless you’re a first-time listener to the genre and don’t know your drone and doom metal from stoner rock, it’s the safest bet to call Bong psychedelic rock. Stoner Rock comprises two tracks, ‘Polaris’ and ‘Out of the Aeons’, both of which are crafted to drone on for more than 35 minutes each.

That means one Bong track is the equivalent of most full-length albums out there today. That should say more than enough about the attention it requires from listeners.

With drone, doom and stoner rock very much being among the most heard metal in the Bangalore scene today, this album becomes essential listening to know what doom bands are capable of. With the opening ‘Polaris’, Bong ensure every layer of guitar fuzz, every note of downtuned guitars are necessary. If you make it past the 20-minute mark, there’s a spooky spoken word section awaiting you. The last five minutes, however, do kind of get to you, if you’re waiting on the band to launch into another movement. But nope, there’s nothing but more drone out there.

Filling in space with repetitive riffs can either be hypnotically good or just plain irritating. Bong’s album is in hit-or-miss territory when it comes to keeping listeners interested. ‘Out of the Aeons’ presents an equally-loud wall of sound, but really commands attention when a prophetic voice booms in around the seven-minute mark with the words, “I have failed in my duties.” Bong is the kind of doom that prefers to disguise itself at first, but becomes a dark, epic trip as it progresses. Be prepared to be mesmerised by staring into an abyss that is Stoner Rock.