Bong Metal – A Special Primer

Oh, high there! On this special and holy day, let us look squarely down the barrel of the bong at a specific subset of stoner metal. We could have grouped by region, or sub-subgenres, but that’s not what being stoned is all about. It’s about making goofy decisions that seem very short-sighted once one is sober. (The key to avoiding that regret? Never get sober.) So, we bravely charge forward and cover every* stoner metal band with BONG in the name! Please, hold your applause until the end.

*Our criteria requires the band to have Bong in the name (duh), fall under a metal or metal-adjacent genre, and have released at least one full-length or professional sounding EP.

You there, in the back, I can hear you rolling your eyes from here. There’s something inherently off-putting for a lot of people when the band is just too on the nose with their name. Blasphamagoatachrist is clearly a (real!) heretical black metal band. Magrudergrind? Escuela Grind? Yep, two-fer-two on bitchin’ grindcore bands. And then there’s Metallica. Gee, fellas, are you gonna play metal?? But this primer aims to dispel (and occasionally reinforce) the notion that all bands with Bong in the name are just boring stoner metal with too long songs and zero ability to get their shit together and get a real job.

We will explore the wacky world of weed loving metal in stages, starting with the finest of the sticky-icky. As I scientifically polled my local metal population (ie, I asked folks at shows to name bong bands), there were two bands that always came up. They are certainly not household names, but Bongzilla and Bongripper are well known in metal circles, and for good reason. They embody drugged-out sludgy stoner metal and have built cult followings.

Bong Bands tend to go one of three ways. They either follow the more rock ‘n’ roll, bluesy side of Black Sabbath and Sleep stoner rock worship, they go more distorted with harsh vocals like OGs Bongzilla, or they drone in the zone like the simply named Bong. Weed movie samples and news clips are always welcome, regardless of style, and marijuana puns are omnipresent. Bong Bands, baby! Let’s get baked!

BONGRIPPER

Location: Chicago, IL
Duration: Stoned since 2005, still blazing
Rating: 5/5 Bongs

Bongripper started as a bit of a joke, poking fun at Sleep’s Dopesmoker and attempting to one-up them sonically with monster debut The Great Barrier Reefer. But then the band realized they were actually really good at this, and with seven full-lengths and several splits, EPs and collaborations, Bongripper are remarkably prolific for a stoner band.

Now, they are not perfect. Including heroin paraphernalia in the Heroin box set? We are clearly in a pro-drugs primer here, but that means being safe and smart and limiting harm. Naming a track off Hippie Killer after a slur for transgender people? Like many other slurs, some people in the trans community have reclaimed the word, and others still condemn it.

While it doesn’t excuse anything, Bongripper embody the ripping of bongs. Riffs are continental shifts, vocals are essentially non-existent, and the band takes guided tours through massive, fuzzy swamps, ethereal playplaces in the sky, and formless voids of noise. Both Heroin and Hate Ashbury (digital and CD versions) traffic a bit too much in the latter, but wandering through some aimless noise is certainly a Bong Band thing to do. The band has been at their best with more focus on the riffs, like 2018’s Terminal or 2010’s Satan Worshipping Doom. All their albums are best consumed whole, to either stoke a foul mood or slip into blissful nothing. Or to paint your nails and find your happy place, because I’m not your mom, and I’m pretty sure Bongripper isn’t either. Find an album that connects on an emotional level and dig in.

Smoke this shit: Slow Death

BONGZILLA

Location: Madison, WI
Duration: Stoned since 1995, got lost for a bit, blazing once more!
Rating: 5/5 Bongs

Bongzilla might just be the quintessential Bong Band. They helped pioneer the modern stoner metal sound by injecting huge, slow riffs with a healthy dose of smoke-ravaged harsh vocals and have been poisoning speakers and headphones for over 25 years (though technically on hiatus from 2009-2015). The hallmarks of the genre are all there: the aforementioned gnarly vocals, the fat, fat, bluesy riffs, the crisp drumming, the weed puns and overt marijuana themes, the news clip and pop culture samples, and the slow tempos that bludgeon your blitzed brain. There’s also a little extra swing and boogie to Bongzilla that sets them apart from some of their more sloth-like brethren and has contributed to their continued appeal.

There’s no bad place to start in the Bongzilla discography. The full lengths are confined to a productive period between 1999-2005, but there have been numerous splits and EPs, and re-release of debut Stash packaged with early EP Methods for Obtaining Extreme Altitude. Their last proper full length, Amerijuanican is arguably their best, and ends with a crushingly heavy cover of the Muddy Waters’ classic “Champagne and Reefer.” Both Apogee and Gateway have some of Bongzilla’s dankest tunes, like “Grim Reefer” and “666lb. Bongsession,” respectively, that should keep them in heavy rotation. Since returning from hiatus, Bongzilla has teased a new album, jokingly (but you never know with these stoners) called Weedsconsin. Freshly minted as a trio following the departure of Cooter Brown, here’s hoping that Spanky, Magma, and Muleboy can spark some magic and create another stoner classic in 2020!

Smoke this shit: Jah Bless America

Next we have the hidden gems. The lesser-known, but essential (or at least worth a gander if you’re gonna stick around) Bong Bands from around the world. The secret stash, if you will. We’ll go in alphabetical-ish order, because I think I still remember how.

BELZEBONG

Location: Kielce, Poland
Duration: Stoned since 2008, still blazing
Rating: 4/5 Bongs

There’s something about certain strains that will shut you the fuck up. Almost immediately as the THC enters your brain, your mouth turns off and your thoughts begin to circle like a caged sloth on Adderall. Belzebong is Exhibit A for a mute jam session. Belzebong focuses on nothing but the power of the fuzzed out riff. Low, slow grooves wash over you like the waves of that joint, followed by that blunt, followed by…seriously, you need a bong rip too? No wonder you can’t talk right now. At the height of your coherence in these overindulging sessions, the best you can manage is a movie or cartoon clip, and Belzebong gets you, maaaan. All grooves all the time, with only the occasional sample as you attempt to escape your flesh prison and communicate. Let the riffs soothe those pacing thoughts. Crank the music so you can feel the distortion rustle straight through your jimmies. Tune in and drop out, maäáàãn.

Belzebong began their existence committed to the cause. Their first three releases all came out on April 20th. Then they mixed it up and dropped Light the Dankness on Halloween, 2018. Sadly, 4/20/20 isn’t likely to result in another Belzebong album unless they have been very sneakily recording and preparing. There’s always another Halloween or 4/20 on the horizon though.

Smoke this shit: Shut up and jam.

BONG

Location: Newcastle, England
Duration: Stoned since 2005, still blazing
Rating: 4/5 Bongs

Bong are automatically in the running for Top Bong Band because they got the name. Game over, man. They also keep things easy for the megastoned by making sure that each album only has two or three tracks, and they never make you use your other hand when counting riffs. Nice and simple, eh? Bong set their controls for the heart of drone, with only sparse poetry readings in lieu of lyrics. Lord Dunsany’s fantasy works influence both the readings and some of the song and album titles. As with King Bong, the band knows the power of their live show and has several Roadburn sets demanding your attention, like a pungent jam band fan cooking grilled cheese sandwiches in the parking lot. In fact, Bong’s live releases outnumber studio jams over 2 to 1. Pack up some of your most cerebral bud, remove any distractions, and zone out with Bong.

Smoke this shit: Bongcamp

BONGBONGBEERWIZARDS

Location: Dortmund, Germany
Duration: Stoned since 2017, still blazing
Rating: 3/5 Bongs

Not only are we in a Bong Band Primer, but I also named Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard my A+ Number One Supreme Champions for last year’s Best Of list. Silly names don’t faze me anymore. BongBongBeerWizards are too concerned with slow, introspective doom to even notice if we are giggling (or facepalming) at their name. B3W are another band that is best felt live. Bong Hit Wonders is a solid debut, but these riffs were designed to make a physical impact, while the feedback and distortion cocoon your brain.

Smoke this shit: Bandcamp

BONG BREAKER

Location: The Netherlands
Duration: 2012-2015, on the shelf
Rating: 4/5 Bongs

First of all, please don’t break the bong. It’s 420 years of bad luck, and a major bummer, man. Secondly, hey there, flying Dutchmen! Featuring drums from Fluisteraars multi-instrumentalist Mink Koops (whose last album got Cap all excited about duct tape and bananas), Bong Breaker only managed a single LP before going on high-atus, but there’s always a chance they’ll see the smoke signals and fire up some new tunes.

Mountain features clean grunge-like vocals and a more laid-back, stoner metal vibe. The riffs are thick and fuzzy, just like Iommi intended. The duo drifts from more metallic riffs to desert rock, without forgetting to write actual songs, and the closing title-track highlights some of the band’s best work. ‘Write sober, play stoned’ – the Bong Breaker mantra, probably.

Smoke this shit: Break bread, not bongs.

BONG OF CTHULHU

Location: Sweden
Duration: 2012-2017(ish), currently wandering the cosmos
Rating: 3.5/5 Bongs

Cthulhu emerges from the inky depths, giggling. From this monster, the sound escaping its tentacles is a dread-inducing gurgle. Mirthful gurgling then, from our damp denizen of the deep. For what was once his great-great-grandfather Azathoth’s bong is now his. No more useless placement beside the black throne. The Bong of Cthulhu! Renamed, given a higher, more productive purpose. Its colors change with the viewer and the angle of the light. Many ‘normal’ people see only obsidian with no light escaping. But the highly creative, the certifiably mad? Deep blues, impossible greens, and a purple that oscillates and wavers whenever gazed upon directly.

Inside the Bong of Cthulhu resides a trio of Swedish humans. Instead of harsh noise or physical dread and mental sickness, they produce mellow, enveloping grooves when the bong is smoked. Words may enter your consciousness, but they are yours alone. One toke by the High Priest of the Great Old Ones takes nearly an hour, as the Bong of Cthulhu radiates an unknown warmth as fuzzy, slow tones emerge, growing larger than the pipe and the monster.

But the last sighting of this carefree, thieving Cthulhu was in 2015. Perhaps he was caught and forced to return the bong. Perhaps he smokes and gurgles from another galaxy, and the musical emanant is still traveling back to Earth. Only time will tell.

Smoke this shit: Enter R’lyeh

BONGCAULDRON

Location: Leeds, England
Duration: 2011-2019
Rating: 3.5/5 Bongs

England understandably has a large and diverse stoner metal scene, and they land in second place with three (3) bands on this Very Important List (USA #1!). BongCauldron join the angrier side of their bluesy British brethren and unleash burly vocals and burly riffs and subtle songs like “Bury Your Axe in the Crania of Lesser Men.” You should be deadlifting right now. You should be listening to Motörhead and crushing beers. You should be 3 bong loads deep and blasting Weedeater. BongCauldron just wanted to party. RIP BongCauldron.

Smoke this shit: BandCauldron

BONG RIPS FOR JESUS

Location: New York / Nevada
Duration: Stoned since 2014, still blazing?
Rating: 4/5 Bongs

Of course the only grind band on the list would name themselves after a snarky teenager and resulting silly-ass court case. Guttural slams and weed movie samples were always meant to go together, and BR4J brings the heat, yo. Bong Rips For Jesus is an excellent palate cleanser from all the slow and sticky bands on this Very Important List. They are still a little sticky from godknowswhat, but they go hard and blast all over the place. They also have a soft side. Just see closing track “Nothing But Stems” for acoustic guitar and samples of weedless people crying. Truly heart wrenching!

Being gross and gory about sexually violating the headless? That’s old news at this point, and it’s been done far better. Picking new themes for your love of grinding slamz like celebrating dank ass skunk bud? Well, that sets you apart, and BR4J knows how to pick a dope sample. Subtlety is for suckers. The band’s status is a bit of a mystery at present, but there is always hope that inspiration will catch fire and provide us with another grimy gift to imbibe.

Smoke this shit: BANDCaMP 4 JESUS

BONG THREAT

Location: Ferguson, Missouri
Duration: 2013-2015
Rating: 5/5 Bongs

Bong Threat has a toilet-shaped bong for the B in their logo. Bong Threat sounds mean as hell. Bong Threat have released one self-titled album. Bong Threat rules. Bong Threat contains some sneaky melodies beneath the vicious riffs, heavy drums, and mean-ass vocals. Bong Threat rules. Bong Threat does not care that you think their songs “Legalize It” or “Donkey Bong / War Pigs” are misleading for not being covers. Bong Threat, please toy with our emotions, drop some more puns, flatten our heads with stepping razor riffs, and come back for more!

Smoke this shit: Are You Threatening Me?!?

BONGTOWER

Location: Stavropol, Russia
Duration: First packed in 2018, currently in space
Rating: 5/5 Bongs

Bongtower is incredibly heavy, and they represent the new guard in the Bong Metal pantheon. They recognize their origins by sampling three giant bong rips before playing a single note on debut Altered States. Nice and understated, folks. Get really, irresponsibly stoned when listening to us, they imply with each knuckle-dragging passage. Rope-a-dope riffs churn and draw you in for punch after punch. Caustic vocals are spat with disgust. Psychedelic guitar lines bubble over the fray, samples punctuate songs, and it all gels into a hypnotic experience. Before you know it, you are thoroughly hooked and not quite sure what just happened.

But in just over a year, on Cosmonautics Day 2020, Bongtower returns with Oscillator, a concept album about the space race. There are recitations, news clips and other samples, and an extra dose of synthesized heaviness, blending the stories of Russian and American triumphs and failures.

The heavy riffs and thick bass on Oscillator have obtained deathcore levels of window-rattling aggression. Bongtower looks beyond the sweet leaf for inspiration, incorporates modern production for new levels of heaviness, and still pays tribute to the genre OGs with classic wah-pedal licks and samples. And while you’re looking to the clouds in awe, why not burst into some David Bowie? Oscillator’s closer is by far the most Russian version of “Space Oddity” you’ll ever hear, but I bet it brings down the house live.

Bongtower exemplifies the most important characteristic of a good Bong Band: just stupidly heavy, y’know?

Smoke this shit: Prepare for liftoff!

BONG WIZARD

Location: California / Texas / Oregon
Duration: Stoned since 2019, still blazing
Rating: 4/5 Bongs

Bong Wizard artfully straddle the mellow grooves of Black Sabbath and Sleep and the harsh burn of Bongzilla. Debut LP Left Hand Pass (also an excellent Cannabis Corpse album reviewed here by our own David “Madman” Pirtle.) has distortion-free, bass-centric and meditative passages that recall Om, as well as heavy riff-fests with roared vocals that would make Dixie Dave proud. Much like tossing a few of your favorite strains into the grinder for a blended blunt, Bong Wizard rolls up a perfect mix of stoner styles.

Smoke this shit: I Am The Bong Wizards

EARTHBONG

Location: Kiel, Germany
Duration: Stoned since 2018, still smoking
Rating: 4/5 Bongs

So what exactly is an Earthbong? Our planet, filled with all the world’s plant matter, lit from a volcano and toked on by the gods? A small clay earthen bong? Let us go with the former, because that’s way cooler. Earthbong makes juicy, smoked BBQ: low and slow, cooked over boiling magma, baby. As is common for the style, Earthbong finish each song when they can get around to it. Once more ’round the riff, dudes. Sparse vocals are the usual gnarled, blackened roars that pair nicely with fuzzed out, molasses-slow riffs. Earthbong is often like a descending Shepard scale, endlessly tumbling into the abyss.

Both One Earth One Bong and upcoming release Bong Rites (out May 15th) are quintessential Bong Albums. Get comfortable, have a snack and a drink handy, take several fat bong rips, and play these albums at maximum volume. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but this is some archetypal Bong Metal that bludgeons with the best of them.

Smoke this shit: Bandcamp

KING BONG

Location: Milano, Italy
Duration: Stoned since 2008, still exploring the stratosphere
Rating: 4/5 Bongs

King Bong embraces improvisation like no other on this list. Like Fear and Loathing in Milano, this trio only brushes against metal tones but never once sits still. They prefer to scamper through the waters of psych rock, building royal riff towers overlooking the sea. But King Bong also recognized this most metal truth as we all celebrated the release of Black Sabbath: “Half a century ago everything began: the Riff fell on humanity. Praise Iommi.” Bona fides now firmly established, let’s continue.

The majority of the band’s recordings are live, but all artfully capture a unified vision of weirdo rock and roll that rolls and rocks. King Bong uniquely conveys the act of getting stoned: things get loud and soft, always moving forward but rarely the direction expected, simple vamps drill into your head (sometimes pleasantly), notes tiptoe past then stand so still you aren’t sure your ears are on, and wonder drifts in on the heels of content and calm.

Where should one start with the monarchs of Bong Bandia? With some weed, obviously, but then I highly recommend you just explore. Pick a snazzy cover, or a funny album title or song name. ‘[Smoke] Me’ and disappear into the rabbit hole with King Bong.

Smoke this shit: Enter The Royal Kingdom

SPACE BONG

Location: Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 2007-2018
Rating: 4.5/5 Bongs

Space Bong missed a glorious theme by remaining terrestrial, but they also left the world with a hell of a final statement. Deadwood to Worms still carries the gnarled roots of earlier releases, but Space Bong opts for memorable, epic hooks that complement the blackened vocals and boiling molasses riffs. This is apocalyptic music for end times smoking. Ending on a Betty Davis cover also puts Deadwood to Worms in good company on this list.

There are other misanthropic Space Bong releases worth your time, but start with DtW and a full bowl of Weedies.

Smoke this shit: Deadwood to Worms, of course.

VOODOO BONG

Location: Tampere, Finland
Duration: Stoned since 2018, still blazing
Rating: 3/5 Bongs

Voodoo Bong are a bit mysterious, despite having multiple social media presences. These unnamed Finns bill themselves as a “bizarre psychedelic gardening accident experience,” which is either vague and useless, or the perfect description if you can get exactly stoned enough. The band clearly prefers sativa strains and plays much faster than the majority of this list. Their punk/garage thrash/death metal hybrid rocks hard and begs for the live experience (buzzed but not too high, with a cold lager or nice cider in hand, head-nodding in the back, earplugs sitting helpfully in your pocket). Should you start to listen to debut album Ritual CVIII and doubt that Voodoo Bong is a trve Bong Band, just skip ahead to “Clown Killer” and enjoy the goofy, hand-crafted, artisanal absurdity.

Smoke this shit: Bandcamp

WAR BONG

Location: Nashville, TN
Duration: 2013-2015 (disemboweled by ghouls)
Rating: 3/5 Bongs

The tank on the cover of War Bong’s Abandon All Dope EP is a warning. Their sludge riffs are designed to trample and crush, and the occasional spry lead guitar dances over incredibly dense and very stoned riffs. The EP and a demo are their entire output before the tragic accident, but both are worth a memorial listen. RIP War Bong, they were disemboweled away from us far too soon.

Smoke this shit: Bandcamp

THE WIZARD OF BONG MOUNTAIN

Location: Midland, Michigan
Duration: 2019-now(ish)
Rating: 3/5 Bongs

Another A+ band name, but the music itself feels like a paint-by-numbers exercise. To be fair, the tone is exactly as hazy as it should be, and folks can’t be picky about vocals that don’t exist. Think of it like a white noise machine for a hippie metalhead who needs to absorb shifting, tectonic riffs to feel calm, and administer Bong Mountain accordingly.

Smoke this shit: Bandcamp

Finally, we have the dirt weed. The thanks-for-trying-but-maybe-smoke-less bands that were far too high when they recorded. Ok, not every band in this section is terrible, but your time is much better spent further up the list.

BATTERY ACID BONG OF DOOM

Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 2014-2017
Rating: 2/5 Bongs

Much like Bong Goblin below, this feels like kids goofing off and having fun. They also selected an excellent name. There are flashes of awesome riffs and unleashed battery behind the kit, but the overall package is rough around the edges.

Smoke this shit: Bandcamp

GOAT BONG

Location: San Antonio, Texas
Duration: Stoned since 2012, still blazing
Rating: 2/5 Bongs

Metal name? Check. Weed/drug/movie samples in lieu of vocals? Check. Fuzzy riffs and slow tempos? Check. A one-man project by the same person who brought you Cheese Grater Masturbation? Check, I guess. Bedroom/basement production values? Check. Aimless songs and pointless riffs? Check. Skip this for something better? Check!

Smoke this shit: Bandcamp

BEE BONG

Location: Johnson City, Tennessee
Duration: Stoned since 2015, still blazing
Rating: 2/5 Bongs

Bee Bong are one of those Rudy bands that tries real hard and deserves kudos, but the music just isn’t there yet. Their self-titled debut sounds closer to a practice demo for a Bongzilla tribute band, but they also walk the walk and support a variety of bee conservation efforts, including donating half of their profits from album sales (only $4.20!) to the Honeybee Conservancy. Bonus points for dressing up in bee costumes for live shows, of course. Bee Bong is a band worth keeping an eye on, and their message is definitely worth pollinating.

Smoke this shit: Bandcamp

BONG GOBLIN

Location: St Albans, England
Duration: 2012-2014
Rating: 2/5 Bongs

Between the cover art of Buddy Waters and the “self recorded in the Goblin’s Cave” description on bandcamp, you kinda know what to expect. Get really stoned on questionably sourced weed with your high school buddies in a garage, and record the first things that come to mind. Some of it honks, some of smokes, and most of it will fade. But you’ll have a good time for a bit, reminiscing on the old days.

Smoke this shit: Bandcamp

BONGWAKERS

Location: Hanoi, Vietnam
Duration: 2017-present
Rating: 2/5 Bongs

A stoner metal band from Vietnam with German and English lyrics is pretty cool on paper. Especially when their most recent album is called Bong & the Wankers and features awesome dragon artwork. Unfortunately, the results are closer to generic garage rock with recycled Corrosion of Conformity riffs. If you happen to be in Hanoi and want to party, a Bongwakers show is probably the place to be. Otherwise, your time is better spent elsewhere.

Smoke this shit: Bandcamp

Holy cow, you’re still here! I mean, of course you are! Bong Bands are a comforting and relatively diverse bunch, compelled by the power of the riff.

Not every band listed is on Spotify, but if you’re interested, I’ve crafted a playlist with some choice tracks as a sampler to this wonderful world of weed metal:

Since many of these bands are no more, I also hope to inspire at least a few of you with this list of FREE Bong Band names:

  • Bong Sword (power metal bands needed!)
  • Killer Bongs From Space
  • AnalBong
  • Billy Badass and the Bong Squad
  • Lucifer’s Big Bong Band
  • Bong Crosby (debut EP: Green Christmas)
  • Badda-Bong Badda-Boom!

Thanks for reading about an arbitrary genre, and please stop by the comments if I have missed your favorite Bong Band or have insulted or overstated their place in the pantheon. I will close with Sleep, who said it best:

Drop out of life with bong in hand
Follow the smoke toward the riff-filled land
Drop… out of life with bong in hand
Follow the smoke toward the riff-filled land

Posted by Fetusghost

Haunting your Chapel!

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