Review: Earthbong ‘Church Of Bong’

The use of the word ‘bong’ in both the band and album name suggests that this must be stoner related somehow and indeed, the third record from German weed lords Earthbong completes a hazy, trippy trilogy of sorts, after 2018’s One Earth One Bong and 2020’s Bong Rites. Church Of Bong releases tomorrow, 25th August, through a collaboration between Black Farm Records (for the vinyl) and Evil Noise Recordings (for cassette).

Earthbong 'Church Of Bong' Artwork
Earthbong ‘Church Of Bong’ Artwork

The slowly building wail of feedback into a lumberingly iconic doom riff gives us a great start for the rumbling, mesmerising Bong Aeterna. You’ve got eighteen plus minutes on the first track of two, a complimentary mix of earth shaking riffs and dreamy, psychedelic passages that drift and swirl around clean guitar hypnotics. All the obvious influences are here; Sleep, Electric Wizard, Bongzilla, Bong. But, despite the structure and the style always feeling a little samey in this genre (look, I love it, I love the genre, but it’s never been known for its innovation or complexity has it?), the swollen apocalyptic ‘breakdown’ that kicks in from about twelve minutes onwards is a dazzling mirage of stoner doom delight. The vocals are powerful, I’d say similar to Matt Pike but with more deathly roars at times too.

Dies Bongrae is the second part, and a little longer but you’d barely tell. You’d be too busy being submerged in endless waves of roiling doom, Boris-esque levels of fuzz and a much darker tone over all. If Bong Aeterna was the stained-glass windows of this Church, then Dies Bongrae seems to be that dark spot underneath the pulpit where all our doubts go to fester.

a complimentary mix of earth shaking riffs and dreamy, psychedelic passages…

Massive riffs and roars complement each other on the song’s endless trudge towards eternity, and for a moment after the twelfth minute or so you think you’ve made it. A quiet, introspective section, much like the first track, leave you with a taste of the life in between the RIFF. But, as we have seen numerous times before, you cannot escape the RIFF. The RIFF is our God now, and it comes swaggering back into a ripping solo above a groaning base. A monstrous effort in more ways than one…

Church Of Bong feels like the culmination of Earthbong‘s work where this almost religious fervour for the old Mary Jane has now become like a place of worship. Earthbong are deep, deep in the weeds for this one, teasing a pair of heavy, doomladen invocations for this new reality to build on. You may only be able to listen to Church Of Bong through extracurricular substances to get the full effect, but sober me will tell you that it is well worth the journey. Maybe it is a church for us to worship the band Bong? Now that is the kind of religious fervour I could get behind.

Label: Black Farm Records | Evil Noise Recordings
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Sandy Williamson