Bongzilla – Amerijuanican

Normally I find bands that go overboard on the marijuana references to be pretty fucking retarded.  Take Six Feet Under for example.  The first album is a classic death metal release that combined the mid-paced crushing heaviness of Obituary with the over the top gore and sickness of Cannibal Corpse.  But then Barnes’ love of the leaf started causing him to do rather silly things like sing about smoking weed (4:20, I am cringing as I think about how utterly embarrassing this song is), and then release albums of cover songs where Chris attempts to sing classic rock and roll in his death metal voice.  It is as bad as it sounds let me assure you.  In fact, it is worse.  So when I saw the CD Bongzilla Amerijuanican at my local independent record store The Vinyl Exchange I picked it up, chuckled, put it down and forgot about them.  Fast forward a number of years down the line and I was really getting into the doom and sludge genres in a big way listening to bands like High on Fire, Eyehategod (best band name ever), Mastodon, Coffins, Disembowlement, Birds of Prey, Acid Witch, etc.  In my search for new and interesting bands of this style I once again came across the name Bongzilla and decided to give them a listen, and so I started with Amerijuanican.

I have to say, despite my lack of interest in lyrics about smoking weed (that shit stopped being bad ass and cool when I graduated from highschool and moved on from listening to Cypress Hill to better things), this is some pretty fucking great sludge/stoner metal.  The sound of this band can be best described as a clone of early era Black Sabbath, blues rock and a singer who sounds like he could be related to Seth Putnam (Anal Cunt).  If Ozzy had swallowed a cheese grater and the rest of Sabbath had said “fuck it” and kept recording, Bongzilla would probably be what it would sound like.  I really like how they mix the old school, bluesy feel of the music with the very harsh vocals.  I guess they must be going for the “he smoked so much weed his voice is fucked” style (which probably isn’t too far from the truth).  Bongzilla is not out to win any awards in the originality department, you’ve all heard these riffs before.  But that doesn’t change the fact that these stuff has an undeniable groove that fans of Black Sabbath (and probably most if not all of the bands listed above) will find impossible not to get into.

In terms of weaknesses the songs do tend to blend together, and I could see fans of faster metal being bored to tears.  But for fans of sludge, doom and stoner metal and those out there still frequently suckin’ back on the ganja, this is going to be in your player often.  The album is relatively short (7 tracks, though each is over 5 minutes in length) so even with the “sameness” of it, I don’t find it overstays its welcome.  Had the band tried to draw it out over 70 minutes or something, well I’d probably be reaching for the fast forward or skip button (unless I was already mentally impaired, this shit works just as well for beer drinking in my opinion).

This is the type of album that will probably appeal to fans of old school metal, and will likely seem pretty boring for the chipmunk attention span of the modern metal fan.  But the next time you plan on slugging back some brews or toking on that blunt or bong, throw Bongzilla Amerijuanican in and chill out for 40 minutes or so.  I doubt you’ll regret it.