What constitutes summer music for you? In my case, I tend to gravitate towards music that plays well on car trips, meaning I blast stoner and sludge above average during the times of sunshine. These genres often have the locomotive rhythms, simple structures and addictive riffing that allow me to practice finger-drumming on the steering wheel and terrible singing, preferably with the windows rolled down so everyone in a 30-yard radius gets to enjoy with me. Waingro fits in this category nicely, pumping out burly stoner with a sludgy sauce. III is their third album, which is a good thing as it would be a really confusing title for a debut. But do they rock hard enough for me to subject the neighborhood to their Canuck wiles?
The opener “New Colony” tells you everything you need to know in this regard. Unearthly rumbling rhythm guitar, massive locomotive drumming, fuzzy lead guitar swinging close to the cliffside with every mountain road turn, and a sludge roar that focuses on loudness and aggression and not much else. It’s tried and true, and not terribly new or original. What separates the good from the bad in cases like these is sheer conviction and ardor, and thankfully, Waingro have both in spades. The bass rumbles like a fast-moving tidal wave, the riffs piling on top like a rolling avalanche, and over it all that ferocious thundering voice. Though the band has energy to spare and the muscular sound to back it up, they don’t rely on that alone, as there are more than a few tasty hooks in here, like the aforementioned opener and the gleefully furious “Bay Area Cult.”1
It’s not a perfect album, though, mostly due to the amount of those tasty hooks. III could have used a couple more of those to make the barreling bus that will blow up if it goes under 50 mph a bit more addictive and a bit more memorable, particularly in the second half of the album. It’s still a pretty joyous, no-holds-barred attack on the senses, but after the album’s over, some of the latter half fails to take up residency in the brain for more than a few minutes. The issue is worsened over the lack of significant variety, particularly in the vocal department. It’s a lovely roar, but that only gets you so far when the pitch and delivery are virtually identical across the album.
Which is a shame, because while it’s playing, it’s an absolute thrillride. The sheer energy is enough to keep it spinning on a loop. The vocals may be monotone, but they’re never irritating and are highly effective. The production is loud as expected, the master compressed as a result, but a great mix takes the edge off that issue and the massive sound underscores the freight train experience. In nailing that, Waingro have made the album worthwhile even as it could have done with a bit more zing in the hook category. While I’d usually weigh such a shortcoming more heavily, I find myself caring less about it with every time I play III as I get plunged in that sweet rolling thunder.
With the summer heat still baking the Netherlands, and the 40℃ record still fresh in mind, I do find myself wishing for soothing rain sometimes2. With their sludge influences turning Waingro just a shade more tenebrous than your average California desert stoner, they drum up thunderclouds to darken the sky, issuing from their diesel-powered steamroller. It’s not elegant or beautiful, nor is it without flaws, particularly in the monotone vocals and the minor underserving of top notch riffs, making the memorability of the album less than ideal. But it’s gloriously loud and unrepentantly violent, gleefully ramming summer joy down your throat with the energy of a runaway 18-wheeler. Despite its shortcomings, III won’t disappoint fans of high octane sludge and stoner.