A bunch of Polish riffmongers do precisely what you’d expect them to: monger some riffs.
Everyone has their musical comfort blankets. Y’know, the stuff you come back to time and time again whenever you just want to hear something that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. When you’re in no mood to be challenged or have your brain engaged in any way – when you just want something to put a big ol’ smile on your face. For me that’s a big, fuzzed out sludgey set off riffs played with glee and abandon. Whenever the world gets too confusing and stops making sense I can always centre myself with a blast of Welcome to Sky Valley or The Action is Go or Wild, Wonderful Purgatory. That genre which used to be called Stoner Rock, a state of affairs no one seemed happy about (Major Kong prefer to go by sludge or doom or anything-but-stoner), was always a hotbed for this sort of thing. However there’s a million and one perfectly fine sounding stoner bands in the world I’ve never gotten along with because they insisted on having some gimp up front doing a half baked Ozzy tribute whilst wibbling on about some embarrassing gibberish. That’s why I’ve always liked a band who subscribe to the Karma to Burn school of rock – vocalists just get in the way, so unless you have a John Garcia to hand you may as well do without.
Major Kong (if you don’t get the reference you’re either as bad at remembering names as I am or you need to watch Dr Strangelove immediately) are definitely graduates of that school. Since 2010 they’ve been plying their trade in heavily Wino-influenced vocal-less chunks of guitar heroism. They tick all of my big-dumb-stoner boxes – beards, fuzzy guitars, a pounding no-nonsense rhythm section and a smattering of horror and sci-fi film samples. This is their second full length album and the only real change since 2012’s Doom for the Red Sun (do you see what they did there?) is that the guitars have got a touch more sludgey. It reminds me of a friend of mine’s home made fuzz pedal, coincidentally named Dr Strangefuzz, which was impossible to hold a note for long with as the signal would just decay and cut out. They’re playing with a bit more pace than they used to – anyone expecting full on Sleep-esque one-chord-a-minute will be left a little disappointed. And that’s about it.
Sure, it’s not reinventing the wheel. But then criticising Doom Machine for not being innovative is like criticising a bacon sandwich for not pushing the boundaries of modern cuisine. That moment when you bite down on a well made bacon sarnie, with just the right balance of bread, butter and sauce, and you wonder why you bother eating anything else, why you’ve spent so much on pans and esoteric spices when your culinary potential peaked the moment you got a grill and the capacity to buy meat and bread – that’s how I feel when my head starts nodding to the might of Voidwagon. If there’s one criticism I’d make it’s that they’ve cut down on the samples – sure, ever since White Zombie and Electric Wizard started strip mining the sci fi/horror archives back in the 90s every metal band with a DVD player and a sense of humour have been hammering away at that seam but if you ask me there’s still plenty of mileage in introducing your songs with an overblown monologue about the devil or robots or mecha-satan or whatever. Apart from that it’s just big riffs played just for the pure love of playing big riffs – these guys have been doing this DIY style since their inception. They don’t need a label – they’re happy to rock on to themselves regardless. And maybe it’s just me but just knowing that there are still bearded guys playing that fuzzed up blissed out stoner rock out there doing their thing, I feel like somehow everything is going to be alright.
You can listen to and buy Doom Machine over at Major Kong’s bandcamp page.