Murmurs in the Bong camp have been quiet since Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s heaviest four-piece dropped ‘Beyond Ancient Space’ upon us all last year, a record so earth shattering and mesmerising even in a sober state was I able to be taken away by the hum and the drone of the band’s heavy brew. A few live shows aside, there’s not been much to see or discuss about their activity since. That’s probably just how they lie. No worries though, as their previous discography shows a prolific release record that has just been added to with new album ‘Mana-Yood-Sushai‘.
Where their previous release nearly consumed the whole disk (in physical terms), ‘Mana-Yood-Sushai’ comes in much less voracious at a comparatively standard fourty-six minutes. Even so, the band are in no less mood to entrance you with just two songs, and they’ve not necessarily become any easier to listen to, even though this is, incredibly, their first studio recording in seven years as a band. ‘The Dreams of Mana-Yood-Sushai’ is the album’s opening track, over twenty-six minutes long and equally rich in concept, based upon the first god and creator of all other gods in Lord Dunsany’s fictional work ‘The Gods of Pegana‘ (thank you Wikipedia, and The Sleeping Shaman for the tip). After a lengthy opening development that includes an ominous warning on Mana-Yood-Sushai, the song explodes into full ominous lurching mode, pinning down an ultra-slow four bar riff with the chant of ‘Mana-Yood-Sushai‘ booming in the background. The length of the song is such that it seems quite fitting in relation to Skarl, the fictional drummer who ceaselessly drums in order to keep Mana-Yood-Sushai asleep, to prevent him from destroying the world.
The second track, ‘Trees, Grass and Stones’, is at first a more refrained affair, with the bass drone somewhat muted to begin with, slowly becoming more prominent during the song. The ethers slowly burn away as the drone increases, revealing a slow low-end three note groove that underpins the melody, as psychedelic flourishes prevail more and more as the song approaches the end of its nineteen-minute-plus duration.
I personally don’t like this record quite as much as ‘Beyond Ancient Space‘ and some of their other selected works, but that’s not a major complaint and after the beyond-earth trip of the previous album, it is great to see Bong using even the slowest of melodies to create an otherworldly experience this time around. This record holds your attention throughout despite the gargantuan lengths of each song, and I managed it despite once again being completely abstinent of any supplemental vice, though again I can see why it might enhance the experience. Anyhow, there’s not many who do this thing better than Bong at the moment, and their reefer continues to burn strong.
Buy ‘Mana-Yood-Sushai’ here
Stream excerpts from the album below: