On April 20th, I wrote a lot of words about Bong Metal, a very arbitrary but surprisingly expansive subgenre of stoner metal. Many people have said that I wrote too many words, questioned the entire premise, or just rolled their eyes and walked away. But the power of the riff compels me, and here we are less than a month later, writing about the newest release from Earthbong. If nothing else, let it be a statement of quality that I was excited for this release, even after I spent months filling my earholes with an overabundance of Bong Metal.
Earthbong is never in a hurry, as expected from monks of the Bong Metal order. “Goddamn High” opens with a squeal of feedback and a door-knocking riff that loudly and proudly announces that you, dear listener, are about to experience something heavy. There’s a crackling edge of real, human energy that is captured in Bong Rites. No samples this time around, just fat, fat riffage, pummeling rhythms, and the occasional lung-blackened roar. Short songs are for suckers, and Earthbong brings us three expertly rolled joints: two fifteen minute jams, and a thirty minute closer. Take your time, relax.
Have you heard all this before? Of course! But is getting high and blasting dope riffs getting old? Not even a little bit. Mersel’s gnarled roar fits perfectly, and disappears to go puff for periods of time, while the instruments groove along. The band wears their influences and shows off their blazed chops proudly. Like a plexiglass-protected cutout of whirring machinery, you can watch each riff as it’s constructed and deconstructed, right in front of you. Claas’ closing riff on “Goddamn High,” unwinding over the final third of the song, gets stretched and pulled like THC-laced taffy, then hammered and stretched again. Sleep and Weedeater are obvious touch points, and Earthbong find their niche among them, snuggled and happily stoned amidst the giants of the genre.
“Weedcult Today” pays their Electric Wizard tribute beautifully, with rolling crescendos and menacing chords before vocals demolish everything in sight. It’s like viewing beautiful flowing magma from afar, and then having your face pushed so close it starts to sizzle.
“Monks Blood” would be an album-worthy opus in another context, but for Earthbong it’s just the closing half of Bong Rites. Thomas’ patient precision is highlighted as his drums provide accents and transitions for calm passages and massive riffs alike. The album ends appropriately, wandering through feedback and waves of distortion for over 3 minutes. Never hurry. If you’re the sort of person to put on Dopesmoker or Dopethrone or any other long, slow Dope-related album just for fun, then Bong Rites is for you.
Tune in and drop out with Earthbong. They’re lifers who love this shit, and they sound exactly like you’d expect for a bunch of stoners who met at a Sleep concert and decided to form a band after a few subsequent jam sessions. This is pure, unhurried, blissful stoner doom. Earthbong is best experienced from your favorite comfy seat in the house, stoned to the bejesus, with no distractions but a snack and a drink. A simple ritual to maximize your enjoyment of Bong Rites.