Review: Bonnacons Of Doom ‘Signs’

Unlike Pigs x 7 who they supported recently on tour, Bonnacons Of Doom are a mysterious entity, sporting masks akin to an anonymous inversion of the smiley face symbol of the acid house scene. The most recognisable member is ceremonial leader/vocalist Kate Smith and the band have something of a shifting line-up which included at one point Jason Stoll (a name that should certainly be familiar to Shaman regulars).

Bonnacons Of Doom 'Signs' Artwork
Bonnacons Of Doom ‘Signs’ Artwork

According to Wikipedia, a Bonnacon was a legendary creature with inward curving horns, a horse like mane and its only method of effective self-defence from its pursuers was the expelling of caustic faeces. Getting a face full of molten shit would be a less than ideal scenario for anyone and thus demonstrable of a band who aren’t afraid to have a laugh despite their secrecy and seemingly serious highbrow lyrical concepts. Sophomore album Signs follows up a series of releases that include 2019’s Esus EP and 2018’s Self-Titled full-length debut.

Facing features pulsating krautrockian drones which fans of bands like GNOD will appreciate and how Kate’s vocals beautifully contrast and compliment. With its punky riot grrrl attitude, it threatens to but never fully erupts into screams and howls of latent frustration and despair. A highly effective opener.

Esus, from my mythological research refers to the Gaullish woodcutter god (particularly of the willow tree) and the track sonically embodies this same ancient transcendental quality. This makes sense seeing as the album’s aims, according to Kate, are to try and ‘channel something otherworldly or spiritual’. There is a strong shamanic quality here too and musically I’m reminded of bands such as the much missed Samsara Blues Experiment, superb.

pulsating krautrockian drones which fans of bands like GNOD will appreciate and how Kate’s vocals beautifully contrast and compliment…

Infra is a little different, more quiet and understated with awesome trip-hop vibes along the lines of Portishead as well as the overlooked outfit Ruby. It is bass heavy, features shimmering synths and is laden with atmosphere giving it a dreamy sensibility. Limina is one of the heavier sounding numbers on the record with a progressive doomy vibe not too dissimilar to bands such as Black Math Horsemen, while Shore at just over a minute long with running water and Brian Eno style ambience makes you feel like you’re at a Buddhist retreat undertaking some deep meditation.

Kraftwerk meets Enya with an industrial tinge is one way of describing the title track Signs and there is certainly a new age feel present that evoke memories of being in my mum’s car in the early 1990’s with Enigma’s MCMXC a.D debut album playing. However, there is far less noodling and pretension present compared to that band and thankfully not a Gregorian chant to be heard anywhere.

Lichen at just over seven minutes is Signs longest track and it’s the album’s undeniable epic masterwork with heavy psychedelic leanings recalling once again the superb work of Christian Peters and Samsara Blues Experiment on albums such as One With The Universe. Semphore concludes the album with the kind of dark ambient and electronic pattern music explored by their Rocket Recordings labelmate J Zunz, especially on her latest Del Aire. Simply divine.

Bonnacons Of Doom proved to be as excellent on record as they were live when I saw them at the end of September in Manchester at the O2 Ritz. This was a relief because sometimes the recorded output can prove a letdown compared to the live performance. There was enough musical variety to keep me glued to the stereo and I was certainly impressed enough to warrant exploring the rest of their catalogue, which is something I encourage fellow listeners to do too.

Label: Rocket Recordings
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills