See DOPETHRONE & BONGZILLA Bring the Smoke to Bristol
Text and Photos: Abi Coulson/Darktones Photography
Bongzilla with Dopethrone and Sons of Otis at The Fleece Bristol
First trio of Canadians of the evening are SONS OF OTIS from Toronto who formed way back in 1992. Featuring just one founding member on the tour, Ken Baluke, they still kick off a green-fuelled night with a low and slow, psychedelic fuzzy, bluesy, doom vibe. An unhealthy amount of feedback, echoing, spacey vocal distortion, hard hitting slowed down drums and fuzzed out guitars. They end the set with an improvised slightly sped up jam session and start the night off on the perfect (down tuned) note.
SONS OF OTIS
It’s difficult to beat this description which is the best description of a band ever, so to quote their facebook page: “DOPETHRONE plays Slutch Metal, It’s a foul Canadian mix of yellow snow, crackhead diarrhoea, blood, tears and broken dreams.”
DOPETHRONE are like the dirty, crusty biological result of a quick fuck in the alleyway between Electric Wizard and Weedeater. Hailing from the slums of Montréal, Canada, and on tour with their latest filthy offering, the fantastic drug-fuelled and sludge-ridden Transcanadian Anger. Vince Houde opens with ‘Tweak Jabber’ and belts out intimidating raspy snarls amid requests for weed and booze and the ensuing set is a great onslaught of their self-labelled Slutch with sleazy, bluesy bass lines, vicious guitar licks and drumming that depicts the feeling of standing in the path of the full throttle monstrous train depicted on the front of their latest crushing record. A deliciously dirty groove is the backbone that is difficult not to toe tap and head bop to at the very least. Houde’s menacing presence relents with his tongue in cheek banter – I mean, it’s to be expected with song names such as ‘Scuzzgasm’ and ‘Kingbilly Kush,’ especially when he invites a somewhat overly-confident audience member to join him in stage to sing the former but upon forgetting the lyrics, Mike Makela of BONGZILLA (who was previously head-banging and hanging off the railing in front of the stage) decides to rescue the poor sod and join them both on stage for a raucous rendition of this DOPETHRONE classic. “Smoke! Drink! Diiieee!” What a ride.
BONGZILLA have a hard act to follow after the full horse power locomotive that is DOPETHRONE tore through the Fleece, but the sludge legends bring the final blows of destruction and impending doom to an excitable (and stoned) audience. Singer Mike seems lost in a smokey mary jane induced haze (which coincidentally matches that of the darkened smokey stage) while also appearing to battle some pretty heavy inner demons. It makes for an almost uncomfortable but intense spectacle as he shakes his head, pounds it against the stage pillar and stands swaying/balancing on the railing while jamming some sick riffs. They create some beautifully vile and killer sounds rife with at times a sense of distress and emotion, but still maintain a comedic cheeky recklessness with more requests for, and advocation of, marijuana. It’s slower than the train wreck of DOPETHRONE, but the intensity of the crushing riffs and thunderous drumming coupled with Mike’s ferocious higher pitched take on the beloved sludgy snarl has the audience going nuts, and a mosh pit breaks out (much to the dismay of some more serious doom veterans). It’s safe to say The Fleece has been suitably devastated.