Bongripper is a Chicago based doom metal band. This is one those bands that epitomizes the do it yourself side of the music business and for whatever reason flown under the radar in the US but their fans are extremely loyal and devoted. When they offer shirts for sale they go fast and in doom circles their name is spoken with reverence. They are also regulars at the Roadburn Festival in the Netherlands.
I got the privilege of having dinner with Denis, and got a glimpse just how much effort and care this band puts into their music. Their latest release, “Miserable”, just showed up on bandcamp with no fanfare. I immediately contacted none other than Sander van den Driesche to inquire about this and we were both puzzled about the whole thing. According to Denis, they had the CDs in hand so why not push it out and see what happens. Sander and I agree this is just like Bongripper, pull the pin, throw the grenade, and see what happens.
To be honest, I am not even sure how to describe their music. Heavy, bone shattering, slabby, towering riffs, all of these, and more apply.Their approach is a slow burn, that reaches out and grabs you for the length of the tracks. Rather than apply platitudes and adjectives, I would rather talk about how the music makes me feel. After all, it’s our feelings and emotions where the click with music happens. It’s this emotional bridge where music greets listeners, you can either jump off the bridge to get away or leave as old friends. Necrophagist and Cobalt give me feelings of breaking shit at full throttle, Rush always makes me reflect on life, and Megadeth is just a fun listen for me. For me, I battle clinical depression and have probably as long as I can remember, and through it all music has been a tremendous healer. I could probably go on and on as to why it heals me and how it calms my constantly firing neurons but this is really about Bongripper not about my struggles in life.
These Chicago lads can create in my an expectation and excitement of each note, which allows my brain to focus on the music and not life. It’s that slow heavy sound that encompasses the listener like a shroud, it commands your attention. Each chord, note, and percussive strike pulls you deeper and deeper into Bongripper‘s world. Soon there is nothing but you and the music, it’s a near transcendental state. It’s this ability to retreat into some different place that lets your mind and spirit calm and heal. As I enter their world on each listen, anxiety fades, moods are calmed, and suddenly the world doesn’t seem like such a struggle. As with their previous releases, the band has created something heavy and special in “Miserable”, there is flawless execution and production that back up the lifeforce that this release creates.
I have tried to write this for the last two months but this new album has rendered me wordless. It’s been in constant rotation but even after countless listens, an adequate description of their music never appeared. I know how it makes me feel, I know how it has healed me over these months, and in the end that’s the highest compliment I can pay to Bongripper. Well done and thanks!