Bongzilla


Methods For Attaining Extreme Altitudes EP

Bongzilla - Methods For Attaining Extreme Altitudes EP ©1998 Relapse
1. Melovespot
2. High Like A Dog
3. Smoke/I Love Maryjane

Bongzilla are a far more advanced musical unit than you might imagine. Painting them in the corner with all the other sad-ass loser potheads (like they care) is tempting, but I'd rather just listen to their songs. See, when this Sabbath gone downer encrusted sound is captured properly, I'm game. And if the slo-mo plundering and scowling vocals of the opening track are indicative, I cannot possibly conceive how Bongzilla could disappoint. Of course, it doesn't. Methods For Attaining Extreme Altitudes is the work of a band who appear to be operating at the top of their game; like vintage Eyehategod, or more recently Grief or Cavity, Bongzilla grease the wheels with some bluesy, damn near catchy guitar riffs, fiddle with the tempos, then the burn the thing down. An ugly little piece of necessity. Bongzilla have upped the ante.

Review by Lee Steadham

Review date: 05/1999

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Stash

Bongzilla - Stash ©1999 Relapse
1. Gestation
2. Sacred Smoke
3. American
4. Budgun/THC
5. Prohibition (4th Amendment)
6. Grog Lady
7. Harvest
8. P.O.W.
9. Under The Sun

If you thought Sleep worshipped weed, Bongzilla should redefine the religion for you. See, Bongzilla are one of those bands with nothing to say. Or more accurately: a lot to say about very little. Stash is a nine track ode to the Herb and a metonymically calculated conceptual drop-kick to diversity. Despite the urge to blow this off as novelty swill, the guys have been paying careful attention to genre cues; much like the debut EP, Stash consists of slow rhythmic meandering jams, sandblasted'n'caustic vocals, wandering basslines and busy drumming. The sum-total is a catchy, benevolent, naively wise sound, much of it valiantly reaching for that coveted bluesy groove that has made distressingly few appearances in the absence of Eyehategod. Moreover, stuff like "Prohibition" and "American" loop like vintage 70s rock, both riddled with samples, the latter of which marked by a bizarre clean vocal. No doubt, everyone in the Bongzilla camp would be disappointed to learn this stuff makes sense to non-smokers, as I find the drug fairly rotten, and the whole schtick annoying and overwrought. For future endeavors it'd be interesting to see if this snake indeed has a head. But we can't all be Emily Dickinson, right? So, basically: Bongzilla, si. Marijuana, no.

Review by Lee Steadham

Review date: 05/1999

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Gateway

Bongzilla - Gateway ©2002 Relapse
1. Greenthumb
2. Stone A Pig
3. Sunnshine Green
4. 666lb Bongsession
5. Trinity (gigglebush)
6. Gateway
7. Keefmaster
8. Hashdealer

Throughout my adult life, I've been surrounded by varying degrees of potheads. One of my college roommates was a twice a day smoker who might as well have been the poster child for proving how many brain cells are supposedly killed by pot use. Other friends used it much more recreationally and in a couple cases, were probably better off with using it. Unfortunately, there's a segment of the population who has taken this illicit drug and turned nearly into a religion. To me, nothing is more aggravating to than to be around someone who is entirely fixated on one specific thing, whether it's football, alcohol, radical feminist politics or marijuana. When one's life is entirely consumed by a single product, there's a good chance that person is lacking much needed balance in order to function and not annoy the living hell out of people around them.

Bongzilla is one such example. They are now three releases deep into their marijuana themed career (two full lengths and one EP) and they're obviously quite content to continue with their favorite subject of choice. Sampling various movie quotes throughout the CD, Bongzilla is making no bones about their drug of choice. Unfortunately, their monolithic approach to making music is likely to drive away anyone who hasn't taken at least three major bonghits. Despite my constant proximity to pot over the years, I never did get around to trying it and I'm certainly not going to light up a doobie simply to find out if Gateway improves while under an "enlightened" state of mind. The entire album is a series of meandering Sabbath inspired sludge rock featuring more distortion than anything coming out of the White House these days. The entire length of the CD comes across as one extended jam session, showing very little dynamic shift from song to song. It's quite easy to tune out the little buggers after the first three or four minutes and they're certainly not going to sneak in any surprises anywhere after that. Just like hardcore marijuana advocates, Bongzilla becomes nothing more than a persistant irritant within minutes.

Perhaps if you like a dingy, heavy, muck-filled record that you don't actually need to pay attention to, Gateway will prove worth digging up. But as for me, Bongzilla reminds me far too much of those wretched middle aged alcoholic men who used to sit at my bar all afternoon, talking in great lengths about booze. I quit that job. Now I'm going to quit listening to this lousy CD.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2003

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