Morrow vs. Hajduch: Bongripper’s Satan Worshipping Doom

Scott Morrow is ALARM’s music editor. Patrick Hajduch is a very important lawyer. Each week they debate the merits of a different album.

Bongripper: Satan Worshipping DoomBongripper: Satan Worshipping Doom 2xLP (August 13, 2010)

Bongripper: “Hail”
[audio:|titles=Bongripper: “Satan Worshipping Doom”]

Morrow: Chicago’s Bongripper makes the type of music that you might glean from its name — bleak, crushing doom metal that’s built on stoner riffs and down-tuned guitars.  I will preface this by saying that I’m not a huge fan of the genre, but the band already has two strikes in my book for the lame pot-related name and the (presumably tongue-in-cheek) Satanism.

Hajduch: A decidedly juvenile aesthetic (bong name, crazy metal titty-demon artwork, hailing Satan at every opportunity) may not be Morrow’s bag, but it’s hard to fault a band who does instrumental stoner/doom metal in such a solid fashion.

The four tracks — yes, they are titled “Hail,” Satan,” “Worship,” and “Doom” — each take up an entire side of a lovingly crafted two-LP set.  Each gradually spans styles, from bluesy riffs to down-tuned sludge stomp, with occasional flourishes of synthesizer and even a little bit of blast-y black metal.  It’s ridiculously effective, and you can’t stop head-banging, ever, and then you seriously wind up worshipping Satan.

Morrow: Ha! Well, unfortunately, this album only makes me want to rip off a mean nap.  There just isn’t enough to sustain these songs, let alone for 11–13 minutes each.  The riffs are dull — often just 2-3 notes — and it’s just minutes and minutes of the same thing.  I know that’s the point of doom metal, but they don’t add other layers or anything.  It’s just the usual metal-band instrumentation.

I was into it for the first few minutes, but as is often the case with the genre, it got stale.  There are bands who do similar things well – Sunn O))), Khanate, Bloody Panda, even “lighter” bands like Cavity and Torche – and Bongripper, to me, isn’t doing anything different or better.

Hajduch: Khanate are cool if you like feedback, and Sunn are interesting if you think it’s cool that a dude who played on the hottest Herbie Hancock records contributed (Julian Priester, trombone on Hancock’s Mwandishi trilogy and bandleader for the insanely great 1973 album Love, Love).  But too much stoner metal went up its own ass listening to My Bloody Valentine and died there.

It’s cool to hear a band that just wants to crush you with riffs.  I hear you that metal-band instrumentation could use a little fresh polish (KTL deserves to be a household name), but I think that years of horrifyingly dour and terrible orchestral metal (how can you be so gaudy and so boring?!) has scared everybody back to guitar/bass/drums monotony.  Nobody criticized this formula when Pelican rode it all the way to the top, and their drummer didn’t even know how to play.

Morrow: For the record, I criticized Pelican!  (And I will defend orchestral metal — at least something like Sigh, not Metallica playing with a symphony.)  Also, yes, it’s awesome that Julian Priester and people like Eyvind Kang (Secret Chiefs 3, Bill Frisell) are all over the last Sunn album.  They called in the proverbial big guns, and it paid off.

Digressing, I’m all about riffs – big, massive riffs – but I don’t think that these are very good.  And though I’m glad that they didn’t add vocals just for the sake of it, having something else would have been nice.  The second track, “Satan,” is a nice tempo change from the opener, but at more than 11 minutes, it’s still way too long.

Hajduch: I think this album is a lot more well thought out than prior Bongripper releases, and I have no complaints. I could see why somebody else might find this type of stuff repetitive, but I don’t, and I’m sure that there’s plenty of people out there like me who like basic bread-and-butter doom metal.

The first-press vinyl was limited to 300, and the upcoming colored stock is sure to be gone after they add the sticker onto the front with Morrow’s glowing praise (“big, massive riffs…very good…a nice tempo change!” – Scott Morrow, ALARM).

Morrow: Normally, the Morrow seal of approval is a kiss of death, but I’m willing to suspend disbelief and guarantee them a good 5-6 sales.  Besides, it’s better than your press quote (“I have…complaints.” – Patrick Hajduch, ALARM).

Leave a Comment