Thursday, October 10, 2013
LP Review - "Concrescence" by Gonga
Gonga have been around a long time and like any ancient druidic kings, they have appeared in several different incarnations over the aeons but brothers George (guitar) and Thomas (drums) Elgie, have always been the stomp and riff that makes up the meat and potato of Gonga.
I became a huge fan of Gonga when their first S/T album was released back in 2003 and since then have looked forward to hearing what these Bristolian riff masters would release next. It has been a long wait since 2008's "II:Transmigration" and during that time they have evolved from a lyric and riff based outfit with the now solo singer/songwriter Joe Volk providing solemn and harmonious words to crushing doom and bluesy stoner riffs, to an instrumental band that focus primarily on further explorations of their musickal Hermeticism and a learned masterful weaving of their adept riffcraft. Now settled with bassist Latch Manghat, Gonga have been locked away in the low vaults until the world was heavy enough for their third full length release that has come with the name "Concrescence." It has been worth the wait.
From approaching gritty feedback comes the first crush of lowend that opens the album and first track "Miasma", a 10 minute 17 second traverse through the mountains and valleys of Riffdome. The first section has some catchy trad doom exaltations that come right out of Blood Ceremony's grimoire of 70's inspired occult metal until things take a decidedly heavy psychedelic and chugging crunch turn with an acid drenched and thick fuzzed riff that has the smell of Gonga all over it. "Miasma" evolves into a blazing sun dazed freak out with an involving riff that keeps your attention throughout and which reminds me a little of some of Colour Haze's best work.
"Calumet Alter" has an aire of the medieval as it rides effortlessly over deep dark plains towards celebratory guitar licks and riffs that fly the Gonga flag for all to see and hear. Slimy dirt is added to the triumph with a thick and crunchy bass line driven onwards by warring drums that power the charging hordes of Gonga, aiding them in their righteous battle for the flawless riffstone.
What comes next is "Another Day Gone" which comes in immediate waves of warm vibed riffs and finely sharpened and energetic smacks and stomps that lead to a gradually thickening pool of exploratory stonerismses and an eventual darkening of the vibe to paranoid jazz metal that would be right at home as a sound track to a 70's occult detective horror movie with a be-flared and bearded professor and investigator of esoteric cults hot on the robe tails of the local aristocratic satanists.
"Mount Gonga" opens with a talking mountain that grabs your attention with bursts of fiery percussion and crunchy guitar thrummings and a stop and start Melvins style, until the track is unleashed and the riffs fly in columns of thick crunch punched along by Brother Thomas's laser tight and incendiary drumming. The riffs soon begin to descend and decay into grimy mycological ooze and a dark bluesy atmosphere that portents of a dreaded time ahead. Effects are laid on thick for an acid bathed growl of guitar that takes the tone to a nightmare trip where you're wandering alone in the woods at night, you're naked and you have blood coming out of your head and you have no idea how you got there. Doom is a surety and Gonga deliver it with pounding and destructive black waves of lowend and explosive drums that end this track in crushed devastation.
Excited muted guitar twangings open "Tungsten Gold" with a quick drop into classic Gonga riffs full of earth and moss and pine needles that morph and evolve and expand into shrilling bass effects and airy guitar licks that pave the way to a psychedelic rock out with finger work from Brother George that writes GONGA throughout the track in massive letters that can be seen and heard from the other side of space. The track ends in a thunderous tumbling of riffs and drums that sound out abruptly leaving only the sound of your own rapidly beating heart and the auditory ghosts of Brother George's finely crafted riffs drifting into your subconscious mind to be imprinted there forevermore.
To complete the hexagram is "Solar Maximum" that begins with a layering of gently building desert-ness that builds to a wind blown atmosphere of encroaching psychedelia bulked up with the thick fuzzy crunch of Gonga's guitar and bass-men. The track climbs higher and higher as it goes on with a blustery riff that takes us to a summit and onto a high bright tundra shining with dazzling riffs and hooks driven along by nifty bass work and the ever impressive beats of the Gonga drums-man. Razor sharp licks herald an ecstatic psychedelic rock freak out and a surprising twist to Gonga's sound that ends their third album and me hoping we don't have to wait so long for our next jaunt around Gonga's riff heavy world of doom/stoner/psyche rock.
"Concrescence" with its mystically captivating art work has been worth the wait for this patient and hopeful Gonga fan. If you are aware of their music and their previous releases you will not be disappointed in the slightest by this latest offering or if you happen to be a new Gonga convert then I must insist you go and listen to tracks from a large chunk of their previous work, which you can do at their Bandcamp right now.
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