Bongripper ‎– Miserable - Digipak -CD


This album is fucking amazing, and you should definitely buy it.

I was introduced to Bongripper's heavy, messy, demonically-evil sound through their first release, the 79-minute monolith "The Great Barrier Reefer." It was immediately my new favorite album after a single listen, and even the four following Bongripper full-lengths, including "Heroin," were unable to shake TGBR from its throne. This one did it.

In the beginning, the same bizarro mysticism that permeated TGBR is here, but for less time and in a different way (whereas TGBR's weirdness was found in a sound bite of someone using a bong and a narration about the apocalypse or something, "Miserable" just has a low-frequency hum to start), but it's condensed and compacted into a tighter 66 minutes and split into three tracks instead of being one beast of a track.

"Endless" kicks it off with some of the slowest, murkiest riffing in Bongripper's catalog to date. The first thing I noticed that was significantly different from their other albums was that the guitar tone was much gentler on the ears. It'd changed from a scratchy, treble-heavy tone that sounded like a middle-school black metal band's shared Line 6 Spider II with a blown speaker to something so thick and soupy that even Sunn O))) would probably say, "Yo, guys, you gotta bring up your high end." (Another change: the lack of drum-level clipping that made "Hippie Killer" a difficult listen for me.) The track stays heavy and minor-key for more than half of its 18-minute runtime, but somewhere around the end of the Bongripper-trademarked post-rock interlude, everything switches, and the riff turns into something that would happen if you slowed Deafheaven's "Sunbather" down by around 800%. The track then backslides into minor key, and everything vanishes in a cloud of crackling feedback, making way for the next track.

"Descent" is, without a doubt, the hookiest riff in modern American stoner/doom metal. The bass leads the guitar and drums along, as they jump in to punctuate the note changes. Once the full band comes in, there's an almost (ugh) djenty feel to the way the notes come out, but it doesn't feel as derivative or forced-gimmick-y as any of Volumes' output. It even gives Periphery a run for their money as the pop-version-of-a-really-not-that-poppy-genre artist du jour. This one doesn't recover from the post-rock interlude; it fades out in a blissful hug of clean tones, and dovetails beautifully into the closer.

"Into Ruin" is the massive track on the album at 28:25, but it's so well-written and varied that it feels barely a fifth that long. I honestly can't describe this song in a way that does it justice; it's typical Bongripper fare in that there's a lot of distortion and spacey post-rock, but beyond that, if I tried to tell you what exactly you're in for, I'd never be able to live up to what it actually is. It's just the perfect close to a goddamn-near-perfect album.