The things we learned at DesertFest 2022
Last weekend, DesertFest once again hit the venues of Camden for three days of volume, weed and riffs. Here’s what we found…
Part of the original early '90s birth of stoner metal, Bongzilla have spent a quarter of a century (with a six-year hiatus in between) obsessed with fuzzed-out riffs and smoking the Devil’s lettuce. Long before Sleep ever released seminal pothead anthem Dopesmoker, Bongzilla were quite literally blazing a trail with their aptly titled debut EP Mixed Bag.
Fifth album Weedsconsin is their first full-length release in 16 years and picks up right where they left off with Amerijuanican. The guitars chug along at a leisurely, yet bouncy rhythm, and Muleboy’s vocals have lost none of their ferocity. It’s like listening to an angry lion having its tail stepped on, but it’s been slowed down to half the speed. It's pretty formulaic and predictable in terms of sound and songwriting, however what this opus lacks in originality it makes up for with an enthusiasm that feels almost ironic for a band more than a little fond of getting baked. Recorded by the late John Hopkins, a man responsible for capturing some of the genre’s heaviest bands (High On Fire, Boris), Weedsconsin is dedicated to his memory. A fitting tribute, considering how crisp this record sounds – a rarity in a genre where reverb is usually favoured above all else.
At just over 40 minutes in duration it doesn’t outstay its welcome, either. Bands of this genre are often guilty in delaying getting to the point, however Bongzilla keep things concise which, in turn, keeps things interesting. For fans eager for the return of Bongzilla this will feel like a familiar welcome home; there’s nothing ground breaking or unexpected being presented here, however, as per the old stoner mantra “pass joints, not expectations”.
For Fans Of: Weedeater, Electric Wizard, Sleep
Weedsconsin is released on April 2 via Heavy Psych Sounds