When a band called Bong names their latest album ‘Stoner Rock’, I kind of know what to expect; a THC drenched guitar howl fest? Not a problem. Me, I’m 44, had hair I could sit on long before the internet existed, indulged in a fair bit of THC and magic mushrooms back in my youth, and gone to a whole lot of gigs where there was a lot of chemical inspiration? I must be the ideal choice. Even in the last couple of years, with my hair being a lot shorter, and my days of indulgence long behind me, I’ve been to shows like Saint Vitus where Dave Chandler repeatedly eked a 4 minute solo out of a single note with a hail of distortion and pumping of pedals; nothing prepared me for Bong. The blurb with the album claimed of ‘Stoner Rock’, “It is a tongue-in-cheek dig at our usual classification as stoner rock and what the term has come to represent. The idea is to create our own definition of ‘stoner rock’ by creating an album so utterly stoned and repetitive to be a million miles away from the usual definition.” That’s one way of putting it. An exercise in self indulgence beyond the wildest expectations of Yes in their most stoned heyday is another. Only two tracks, each in excess of half an hour fill this album, but somehow, they felt so much longer.
‘Polaris’ starts, and for that matter, finishes with the sound of a guitarist repetitively trying to tune in, it apparently being a down tuned guitar having a zombie head butting the strings or thumping them with a bone like the ape man of 2001; not a pleasant or entertaining experience. Okay, about 10 minutes in an indistinct voice chants pointlessly like a well spiked Hunter S. Thompson, about what, I cannot even interpret, but at least it is a reprisal from the feedback. I keep remembering the words of Bill Hicks, about creative artists like Jimi Hendrix being “really fucking high”, but I fear if that much missed word smith were alive today even he would throw away his peyote and branded Bong as nothing but mindless drone.
After the first half hour, the band put forth ‘Out of Aeons’; I’d love to tell you how much it progresses the sound, but to be honest, on the whole it is the same guitar warm up battered by a player who probably wouldn’t notice the end of the world, let alone the appearance of Elder Gods. At least the mix in the engineer has paid more attention to this then the first half and have acknowledged the rhythm section with a slight emphasis on the drums. Beyond that, it’s the same one note drone.
On the first, second, and even 3rd listen to this album, nothing can make me praise it. At least the second track sounds slightly less repetitive and dull then the first. I’d offer to compare and contrast, but they are both devoid of any originality and sound like a drunk battering an SG guitar. Maybe I’m not getting the CIA grade shit of legend, but there you go. As somebody who hasn’t played in a band for years, I’m loathe to give this score, but I honestly have no choice. The late, great, Bill Hicks talked about great musicians like Hendrix, The Stones, and The Beatles, being “really fucking high.” If he heard this shambles, even he might descry the strength of modern weed.