These British doom overlords have been unstoppable throughout their career. Their constant activity is shown by the insane amount of releases they have under their belt, ranging from splits and EPs to live recordings and albums. The latest record of Bong, We Are, We Were and We Will Have Been, is their seventh full-length in six years, following their great previous works Stoner Rock, Idle Days of Yan and the unbelievable Mana-Yood-Sushai.
What in my mind separates Bong is the ritualistic quality of their music. Do not get me wrong – obviously many drone/doom bands have a strong ceremonial-like ambiance, but with Bong it seems more that the drone aspect compliments their ritualistic origins, and not the other way round. It is the focal point around which the entire musical existence of the band is built. That aspect of Bong is also very prominent on the vocals of Dave Terry, which become an extension of the ritualistic origin of the music, with their massive performance turning to an all-devouring state very quickly along with their slow delivery. When his vocals appear in “Time Regained,” they immediately take the psychedelic nature of the track to another level.
Label: Ritual Productions
It is no wonder that Bong can so easily achieve such a result. The minimalistic outlook that the band has is the main power that drives their performance. In “Time Regained,” it appears in the form of big drones, as the huge feedback from the amps rages on. What is also very interesting is even though the music of Bong is based so much on repetition and circling patterns, there is a constant flow that gives the illusion that aspects of their music are shifting as the songs progress. The drumming is a big part of achieving such a result, seemingly staying at a distance but having a profound effect on the music. Even though it seems quite simplistic and has a dark, lo-fi quality to it, the drumming is absolutely crucial in providing the desired pace with which the minimalistic and ritualistic visions of the band are able to come forth with such strength. And it even provides some of the few outbreaks of the album, as is the case with the big unexpected hits in parts of “Find Your Own Gods.”
Within all the room that Bong can create with their musical concept, they make sure they add a few very well-placed melodies and effects that make the trip through their desert-formed soundscapes more interesting. The swooshing effects of “Time Regained” add more variation to the scenery that Bong create, while the subtle melodies that are included in the song are able to give a more delicate aspect to the band’s sound. In parts of the opening track, those melodies are able to invoke a dreamlike sense that the band’s psychedelic aspect is so suitable for. On the other hand, the sonic experimentation with effects that takes place in “Find Your Own Gods” brings forth a plethora of interesting sounds, which Bong can manipulate so well to give their music that unearthly vibe.
It is not as if Bong break new ground with We Are, We Were, We Will Have Been. This is more the case of a band that knows what they do well, and what they are capable of. And in their latest album they do exactly that and deliver a mystical album of unknown origin, in the best fucking way.