Review 2217 : Bongripper – Empty – English

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Bongripper returns to heaviness.

Six years after their last album, Nick Dellacroce (guitar), Dennis Pleckham (guitar), Ronald Petzke (bass, ex-Weekend Nachos) and Daniel O’Connor (drums) release Empty via The Great Barrier Records.

With Empty, the band revives its cryptic messages with four long tracks, totalling over an hour’s listening time: Nothing, Remains, Forever and Empty. Lyrics can go to hell, make way for thick saturated heavy riffs blending Sludge, Doom, Stoner and heavy occult influences to plunge us into a continuous, unhealthy trance packed with dissonant harmonics that easily crush us. Separated by a few well-felt feedbacks, the tracks follow one another naturally, almost cryptically, to form a real block as oppressive as it is fascinating, taking hold of our minds and barely giving us a glimpse of liberation with the rare pauses granted between the dark, smoky riffs. There’s a certain parallelism in the length of the tracks, with Nothing and Empty clocking in at over twenty minutes, while Remains and Forever are closer to twelve, but it soon becomes clear that each composition has its own atmosphere: we move from sheer suffocation to more ethereal tones tinged with Shoegaze, before returning to this pachydermic slowness sometimes complemented by a few ambient keyboards. Special mention should be made of Empty, which also verges on sticky Black Metal at its most virulent, but soon falls back into its dizzying torpor.

Bongripper‘s recipe has changed very few in almost twenty years. While remaining rooted in this savvy broth of Stoner, Sludge and Doom Metal, Empty comes eerily close to an acclaimed production released fourteen years ago. Coincidence? I don’t think so, but I already just like it as much.


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