Warning, this may be the first and last time Anne Hathaway has been referenced in a doom metal review. While AMC theaters were pushing promo hype for Les Miserables this past year I must have seen their 7 minute making-of featurette twenty times. It really didn’t matter what sort of movie I was seeing, AMC felt it was an appropriate regardless of genre. Nothing pumps you up for a bloody action flick or a supernatural chiller quite like Russell Crowe in a Napoleon hat. As much as I resented being forced to see this promo video so many times there was one line from Hathaway describing her ill-fated character that came to mind while listening to the Bongripper/Conan split album: “She's literally at the bottom of a hole and realizing she's never going to climb out of this.”
There’s a prevailing sense of hopelessness in both of these tracks, but Bongripper’s Side B offering “Zero Talent” truly captures the horrific disintegration of joy. Even the song title feels like someone who has cut their own worth down to nothingness. The track begins with droning ambience, like a room-tone in some desolate futurescape of dilapidated office buildings filled with skeletons where the only sounds are the computers that keep eerily humming. Once the riffs drop from the sky they land with enough force to sink continents. The guitars are weighed down by suffocating pessimism, crawling forward through glass shards and rat shit through cobbled streets where the dreamless wait to die. “Zero Talent” also pops an upper late in the song and rampages at about a million times their normal speed, blasting forward and suddenly halting with a vicious stop-and-go pattern that bruises brains like slapping the listener’s skulls against a truck windshield. It’s a nasty slab of grimy depression that should be the bright spot in every doom fan’s year.
Conon’s track, titled “Beheaded,” also plows through the muck at a frighteningly low speed, tasting the sewage as it shuffles deeper into a steaming fecal swamp. There was once a moment when I saw Winter play and felt like the distortion seeping from the towering speakers was crushing me into the ground. It was like the gravity in the venue was exponentially increasing each minute, threatening to flatten me across the cement floor and squeeze the precious fluids from my skin. Conan’s entire discography reproduces that feeling. If you’re looking for pure, unrelenting heaviness, the type of sound that feels like the widening anvil shadow right before impact, then Conan is your lethargic jam. While I usually think of decapitation as a swift punishment this song feels like someone is just pulling their enemy’s head off with their bare hands, working at it patiently with fingernails and brute strength. The song doesn’t offer much in riff ingenuity or tempo shifts, but it does transport listeners into a slow-motion world painted with dried blood and fresh shit. It’s not pretty or clean, but there are people who will feel completely at home there.
I also want to mention here that both of these bands will be terrorizing audiences in Conan’s home country, commencing a nine day tour towards the end of the month. If you can check out these bands and survive without feeling like their bass guitars laid a demon egg in your stomach I commend you.
Listen to Bongripper’s track here: http://www.invisibleoranges.com/2013/03/exclusive-song-stream-bongripper-zero-talent/
And the Conan track is streaming yonder: http://pitchfork.com/reviews/tracks/15163-conan-beheaded/
And pre-order from Holy Roar Records over here: http://holyroarrecords.com/album.php?id=2010&shop=1