Continuing in the tradition of immaculately named stoner metal bands like Weedeater, High on Fire and Bongzilla, Chicago’s Bongripper has been dispensing heavy-handed instrumentals for more than six years at this point. Despite an ill-fated, cancelled tour earlier this year, the quartet’s lined up a jaunt to Europe, as any good metal band should, next spring. Kicking around locally so persistently, though, has enabled Bongripper to develop its approach to music in a methodical manner matched only by the slowly unfolding compositions it performs. Dating back to the band’s inception, “The Great Barrier Reefer” rattles with low-end abandon, but some of the guitar work present on the disc reveals a penchant for lighter, more airy musics. The disc doesn’t misrepresent Bongripper’s current sonic stance, but only toward the second half of the recording, which is an hour-and-change of one riff drifting into the next, does “The Great Barrier Reefer” sustain a heaviness that’s omnipresent on more recent recordings. Last year’s “Satan Worshipping Doom” seems to have solidified Bongripper’s sound after wading around in the murky waters of the ambitious and unsatisfying, if not well-titled, “Hate Ashbury.” Four extended tracks make up “Satan Worshipping Doom” in its totality–and apart from the weird eighties rock breakdown toward the end of the second track, “Satan,” there’d be virtually nothing to criticize. Of course, given the nine minutes of bassy sludge and thrash on “Sex Tape” backed with “Snuff Film,” it seems Bongripper’s sporadic explorations of lighter tones may be in the past—at least for now. While song titles still deal with ideas that don’t jive with mainstream American values, the notable lack of Satanic references is deeply troubling. Regardless of how the ensemble titles its work, though, Bongripper seems dedicated to exploring every last vague stylistic caveat attached to metal, doom and stoner stuff. Lovely Little Girls, Spanyurd and Machismo open. (Dave Cantor)
December 16 at the Empty Bottle, 1035 North Western, (773)276-3600, 9pm. Free with R.S.V.P/$8 dos.