Bong are here with their new release, Thought and Existence. Northern drone metallers hit us with another one in the form of Thought and Existence, adding to their already fairly sizeable back catalogue over the last five or so years. Already well versed in the language of heavy metal, Bong make little changes with this new one and simply unleash another 37 minutes of hypnotic yet hefty ambient music that’s sure to please the ears of many.
Split between two tracks, Thought and Existence’s first half is titled The Golden Fields. This track opens the record up with a great mixture of some nice windy and watery ambient noises for about a minute or two, before some deep sacred-like spoken word vocals come in, eventually running alongside a droning guitar and a few other kinds of pretty eerie and gloomy background noises. I liked the approach Bong took to opening this song in the sense that they didn’t hang around and drag the initial few minutes out for very long. I feel like the spoken word could have gotten very boring very quickly but it was used pretty well. By around the five-minute mark the percussion has been brought in along with the true atmosphere of the song. It’s a decently executed blend between swirling psychedelia and straight up power. Towards the half way point of the song the vocals are also in full effect. Nothing mind-blowing but it keeps the track moving along nicely, slowly pushing towards that typical kind of droning levitation state. There are a handful of moments throughout The Golden Fields where an additional guitar is played in the background amongst the panning, crushing rhythms where you get given a bit more of a melodic taste of playing, and it stands out very well, particularly around the thirteen-minute area, where there is some fantastically powerful and bright lead guitar and it’s the first moment on the album that made me really screw my face up. This is played until the closing of the song, and it’s safe to say the song just trundles through it’s 17 and a half minutes slowly getting better and better, closing out as a pretty enjoyable song.
The second track and last half of the album is titled Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius. This track immediately has more going on for it than the previous. For this track, the drum work is seriously a winner. The guitar work is also a little more colourful, and the droning low end in the background is still pretty good, but the drumming really made this track. It opens up with a wicked fill and it took me a good four minutes to leave this drum induced trance and realise what was going on. Of course the guitar and bass work has more to do with this than I realised, but the drum patterns being played were just keeping me constantly hooked, constantly bopping my head. There are multiple great little fills played by Mike Smith every couple of bars that are super tasty and there’s a just real genuine authenticity to what he’s playing. Every drum hit feels alive, every bar sounds different and every time he lit up the cymbals in little flourishes I was took back by how good it sounded. Yet again with this track, like the first, the guitar work livens up sporadically throughout the track for that extra bit of much needed flair. Even by the half way point of this mammoth track the vibe doesn’t switch up much, leaving you to just appreciate all the slight nuances on each instrument. It’s got to be mentioned too that the bass tones on this track are pretty sweet. Overall the tones of everything Bong are playing are all pretty damn good, but there are a few moments dotted throughout this track where the whole low end feels like it phases round your skull like a laser.
Typically, I tend to lean more towards doom or sludge metal rather than out and out drone metal records like these. Of course lines get blurred in-between, but Thought and Existence is a true 37-minute droner with plenty of Earth and Sunn O))) influence, that I did genuinely enjoy. For me I wouldn’t guess it’d have much replayability, as the level of monotony would make me a little too fidgety, but I can’t take away from what a great listen it was. It ticks most of the boxes you’d expect an ambient type of metal album to tick, and in some areas does a little more. For a band who release multiple little projects and songs like this Thought and Existence is one they can certainly be proud of adding to their collection.
Highlights: The drumming and most of Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius. The guitar work and latter half of The Golden Fields.
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Thought and Existence is out now, available here!
Reviewed by Harrison Deacon