Antediluvian by Bong-RaRelease date: October 23, 2018
Label: Svart Lava Records
I’ve never heard Bong-Ra before but, I figured from their name that they’d be something like Bong mixed with Sun Ra and that’s how I got here…join with me as I plunge into ‘Antediluvian’ for the first time.
Disambiguation: I had no idea what ‘Antediluvian’ meant before taking on this review, so, I went to dictionary corner to provide me some context for the track and this is what I found…
of or belonging to the time before the biblical Flood: gigantic bones of antediluvian animals.
chiefly humorous ridiculously old-fashioned: they maintain antediluvian sex-role stereotypes.
Imagine me, listening to the opening puddles of reverberant guitar and hallowed choral vocals in ‘Kheper [Pharaoh’s Serpent]’, having this desire to unfurl the etymology of the album title when upon reading that it pertains to a time before the flood, all the serene and ceremonial sounding aspects of the opening that are underpinning my research are pulverised by a gargantuan slab of distortion and wild swinging oboes. ‘Before the flood’ indeed. The song feels like a soundtrack to huge, many-legged things of terror getting old testament on our ancient ancestors. The unsettling flickering oboe fixes my brain in some sort of entemophobic fascination compounded by brutalistic riffs and mournful vocals into morbid curiosity, like a vulture watching charred bodies crawl from a car-wreck. The drums in this track are fucking great, whoever is behind the kit is pounding the shit of those things like Muhammad Ali on a speed bag. I’m one song in and totally sold on this band, I feel like the name is apt and the doom is en point and the oboe is fucking sick. I’d love to see Bong-Ra with one of the following in collaboration: The Body, Gnod, Boris, Sly and The Family Drone. My initial thought as to a potential downside is that there’s a chance there won’t be enough hook/chorus type shit to actually move the music from my brain to my heart to make me keep listening to the record rather than simply thinking it’s awesome, getting high as fuck and leaving it on in the background.
‘Amun [Hidden Chambers]’ comes in fairly seamlessly, there’s a brief lull that’s met with more colossal doomery but, here some mildly Carpenteresque keys come into the fray and kind of make it feel a bit more like funeral doom or something a bit more gothic. I get to a point where I start to think that the dirge of this album is relentless in a good way and then, immediately, everything unravels until it’s just keys peppered with some light cymbal work and at this point I’m left thinking “what the fuck actually is this record?” there’s bits of everything I value and it’s fucking great. I’d love to see Bong-Ra live, it must be fucking sick. The pads in the background keep everything feeling quite unsettling, but the keys are quite melodic, but, on top of that you have these drums that are rolling out all sorts of rhythms and atmospheres rooting it into a proggy, jazz basis. Again, what the fuck actually is this record?
The third track, ‘Oon [Precession Of The Equinoxes]’, caught me off guard initially, ‘cause I thought it was gonna take the album into a weird dark ambient/piano-heavy jazz thing and then basically, what happened was that the drums fucking blew me away again, they sound very tribal and effortless whilst clearly executed with a great deal of skill. But, the riffs in it are absolutely astonishing, there’s a sound kind of like a dentist drill that I can only imagine is the guitar begging for mercy, it’s fucking savage. I love it. I’m not gonna say anymore about this, I think it’s spectacular and the drumming is absolutely magnificent.
I feel like this conclusion to the album, ‘Aton [Mind Machine]’, is essentially what Gnod would sound collaborating with someone like Bong. It sounds like the gates of hell opening or maybe Mordor, in any case it’s fucking great. I feel like I’d be repeating myself if I elaborated further in description, so, suffice to say, ‘Antediluvian’ is a fucking excellent album that I’d recommend to any fan of doom metal, jazz or mind-melting, miserable bastard music.