This is a solid first release from the York two-piece, seven tracks of straight-up stoner groove. And this is clearly a review that I’m not going to get through without mentioning OM, so here I am doing it now. Indeed on the run-up to Bunker’s release, the band have not been shy in recognising the influence Al and Chris’s early works had on their music.
It strikes me that in a world of fragmenting doom subgenres, and a push towards extremity or retro/occult trad-ism, OM remain surprisingly under-plundered for such a seminal group. The comparison is inevitable here, as PAK40 set out their stall with big rolling bass riffs, the simplicity of a pair of players locked into the groove. There are elements such as some of Leo Hancill’s use of the ride cymbal, or the mode of Andy Glen’s riff in Pyramid that are recognisably OM-ian, but this is not just a replica. We hear PAK40’s identity in the greater movement to Pyramid, the more ‘metal’ edge to their approach, such as through the use of feedback, rather than purely seeking a mantric transcendence, there seems to be more joy in the groove.
This is the strength of a decent two-piece, moving between loose and structured feelings and an immediate connection to the sound. Glen employs a range of bass tones, and there’s a bit of an FX on some of the vocals, but the sound presentation (via the eponymous Bunker Studio in Bochum, and mastered by Esben Willems of Monolord) is uncomplicated and direct. The sort of ‘live set with a decent sound guy’ recording that’s probably just right for a debut release by a no-nonsense band.
PAK40 have a powerful arsenal of bass and drums…
Having mentioned Mr Willems, the final track Bunker springs to mind. This comes on as much more hefty, not unlike a Monolord riff, or even Bongzilla, and was a welcome refresher. To be unduly harsh, the previous six songs had started to feel a bit same-y and long (although with appropriate brain-chemistry, this would probably translate to ‘mantric stoner odyssey’) and my ears perked up at the promise of a bit more aggro. However the song drifts into a fade, subsiding under its own weight, which seems like a strange way to end what has been a strong statement of intent for a new band. Maybe it’s the promise of more, and we should be riding that fade back in to their next chapter…
PAK40 have a powerful arsenal of bass and drums, and they’ve showed they can put together the material in a satisfying way. Does the ending of Bunker suggest a move into darker, gnarlier vibes? Will they draw in wider influences, or continue to mine this vein of bong-friendly groove? Well, I guess if you hang around you might find out, and in the meantime have a nice sit down and relax into the sounds.
Scribed by: Harry Holmes