Bongzilla’s fifth album comes with an interesting set of curveballs, being their first full-length release since 2005’s Amerijuanican as well as their first to be recorded as a trio. However, very little has changed about the Wisconsinites’ vision in the sixteen years they’ve been away. As evidenced by an appropriately dumb but endearing title like Weedsconsin (Heavy Psych Sounds), the Sweet Leaf remains the focal point of their aesthetic and their Stoner-Sludge sound is as potent as ever.
Of course, the adjusted dynamic does make for slight variations even if the style itself is largely unchanged. The guitar remains packed with fuzz but having only one onboard leads to a noticeably less oppressive sound overall. The equally fuzzed-out bass sits on a near equal level and the shrieked vocals seem to be higher in the mix than previous albums. The resulting vibe may not as aggressive as their earliest albums or as dense as Amerijuanican, but a more chill demeanor isn’t too out of place with their MO.
The songwriting also maintains the band’s rather slapdash character as the somewhat disjointed structures are made coherent by some solid riff choices. ‘Sundae Driver’ and ‘Gummies’ bookend the album with trudging chugs that wouldn’t have been too out of place on a Melvins record circa Bullhead. The appropriately titled ‘Space Rock’ and ‘Earth Bong, Smoked, Mags Bags’ are the album’s centerpieces, respectively venturing beyond the ten and fifteen-minute marks for some extended jams. I also find the thirty-five seconds of ‘The Weedeater’ rather funny, if only because it reminds me of Electric Wizard’s similarly brief ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ on Dopethrone.
While Bongzilla’s latest album may not be the flashiest thing in the Stoner-Sludge world, it’s nice to see them maintain their character years later. Weedsconsin could very well be on the same level as their best work, offering a somewhat different vibe thanks to its more laid-back execution but still bringing plenty of memorable riffs and dynamic structuring. The sheer number of Dank Metal bands that come about in recent years can make an album like this easy to overlook, but it’s always great to hear one of the trailblazers chime in.
Buy the album here: https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/bongzilla-weedsconsin
8 / 10