Bongzilla – Weedsconsin Review

It’s high noon. Sweet Mary Jane is at the wheel. Her best bud Bongzilla is in the passenger seat. Master of Reality is rattling through the truck’s rusty speakers. The sun is setting. They’ve hit the jackpot. After sixteen years in a distant haze, Bongzilla is back. Muleboy (bass/vocals), Spanky (guitar) and Magma (drums) have awoken from their dazed slumber. Sixteen years is like sixty years in stoner time and a lot has changed. For one, the recreational use of cannabis has been legalized in many more states. Bongzilla is still on a mission for fweedom, however.

Bongzilla’s fifth full-length Weedsconsin is a billowing haze against a vibrant sunset. The intense shimmering heat of the day has softened to a swaggering comfort. There’s a fuzz in the air still, the softest shimmering of heat on the horizon, but shadows and shade are beginning to encroach. Bongzilla are no longer interested in the vicious heat of midday. Bongzilla are in their sunset phase, legs up and reclined in a haze of relaxed gruffness. The members of Bongzilla are less angry these days, but their promotion of all things green still lights a fire beneath their bong. You can hear it in the wafer-like tactility of the guitar tone – it’s lighter and wispier but still laced in a vitriolic fuzz that smothers the whole record. In previous releases, Bongzilla’s guitar tone had a thicker sludge abrasiveness that acted as a catalyst for Muleboy’s shrieks. Now, however, the tone is less abrasive, more rusty and bedraggled, and Muleboy’s shrieks – though rough and gruff and ready to blow your house down – are more hearty, more welcoming. Beyond the riffs, Weedsconsin is a record that shares its love-thy-neighbour and share-thy-blunt message through its tone.

Riffs are important though. Very important. As a whole, Weedsconsin is a mid-paced saunter down dusty roads. The band diverge off course for a rowdy romp occasionally, however urgency isn’t at the fore of Bongzilla’s mind. Opener “Sundae Driver” is a chugging thrust down a hillside and “Free the Weed” is a protest song that carries a heavy anarchist weed waving groove, but beyond the spurts of energy in these tracks Weedsconsin is a laid back affair. As starlight begins to twinkle, the band trudge through a coarse, hazy undergrowth without a care in the world. Weedsconsin’s tracks are mostly long form and meandering – sometimes excitingly so, sometimes tiringly so. The three part “Earth Bong / Smoked / Mags Bag” is fifteen minutes of soul searching blues-psychedelic stoner-sludge that trickles into the ear canal like a roach. It’s pleasantly sordid and the standout track on the album due to its shifting tones and patterns. The “Mags Bags” section carries more of a putrid, cough inducing stoner speed that counteracts the pleasantries of the prior ten minutes. This dynamism is subtle and Bongzilla rarely deviates from bluesy simplicity.

A grand twist in a track’s form won’t be found elsewhere on Weedsconsin. Bongzilla stick to one direction and one direction only: into the grasslands of Weedsconsin. As a whole Weedsconsin is a pleasant listen although it does form into one amorphous blob. Beyond the satisfying rusty warmth of the mix, an important element of this sort of stoner-sludge, tracks rarely shift beyond conventional stoner-sludge parameters. The record does find a way of pleasantly weaseling its way into my head, and I did regularly shimmy and shake to the bluesy thickness that Bongzilla blow, but as a record to listen to attentively and closely there’s little to get overly excited about. “Spacerock” and “Gummies” stutter in comparison to the hardier grooves of the opening tracks and the expansive flows of the longer tracks. Riff simplicity is fine, but a sense of déjà vu occurs too often. You probably know what a lot of these tracks sound like before listening to them.

Bongzilla makes music to be played extremely loud and listened to extremely stoned. Without a stack of giant amps and a stack of giant blunts, I’m probably missing out on the most attractive features of the genre. I’d pay good money to see Bongzilla live but Weedsconsin is not a record I’ll be spinning regularly, unless the aftermath of the pandemic releases the bong wizard inside of me. To be blunt, this is wonderfully unoriginal and that’s fine. In the grander scheme of albums and straight edge metal reviews, however, Weedsconsin doesn’t make the cut.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Heavy Psych Sounds
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: April 20th, 2021

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