Album Reviews

Bonk – Western Soul

(Racing Junior) UK release date: 13 March 2006

Housed in a truly grim cover of the none-too-pretty pair, chests bared and crying, and thankfully clawing its way past associations of drippy ‘Blunty‘ troubadour acoustic whingings, this is a heavy slice of sludge rock played at the speed of jackhammers. Buckle up and rock on!

Coming in at a sprightly 28 minutes and re-released from 2004, Western Soul is a blast of noise from start to finish. Formed in 2001 by Andreas Gr�tterud and Leif Koren sleazy hippies of the Oslo punk scene, Bonk came out of the ashes of the legendary bands Kung Fu Girls and Anal Babes. Great names run in the family, obviously.

Starting on a wave of electro pulse, Bonk lead you astray before opening their garage punk assault. Like fellow Scandinavian cohorts The Hives, Turbonegro and, oddly, Brit-rockers Judas Priest, they have one relentless tempo: fast, loud and heavy. Described as “the sound of The Ramones on heat playing gospel in a flaming church,” this is serious heads down, no-nonsense boogie, rock and roll. That said, there is more than a little texture and variation in these tracks.

How’s “I know I’m fucked, I’m sorry, I told you not to worry,” for a statement of lyrical intent on opener Front Page? This is the album’s red herring in setting them up to be proto-industrialists like Ministry. Afterwards, though, its thick-headed fuzz sprawls over the motor beats while sub-vocals rumble your gut in a cheeky Satanic way. Sodomy? Sod ’em all!

Truly possessing ‘motorheads’ in the churning Detroit riffs that spawned The Stooges and The Ramones, these are monster riffs nailed to lyrics about getting fucked up, liking it, girls, drugs (probably) and rebellion (natch). Tracks like Grooverman roll along in a gleeful head-banging way that makes you forget the whole evolution thing. Waiting In The Car’s faux church organ soon gets trashed by a wall of sound bashing its brains out. Sarah’s bizarre dual vocal of creepy spoken and sung parts is a bizarre construct of sweet and sour. Drenched in the sweat and smells of ’70s rock excess, where the riff is king, Bonk are beautifully unreformed rockers.

The Monkey King Creates Havoc In Heaven is a sub-instrumental, with the emphasis on the mental, repeated, grunted vocal mantra over some seriously sludgey-rock noise scraping its knees over the sound of broken fuzz and metronomic ride cymbal. It’s quite a trip, breaking down before building up to some monster-sized riffing. Spacerocking has never sounded quite so cosmic and stone age at the same time.

I Can’t Dance whistles along stoopidly (sic) bellowing; “Tough guy, smartass, simulator, can’t dance,” while the laconically twin vocal unconvincingly intones; “You make me want to jump and shout.” A sneaky hidden track threatens another song before dissolving into a back-tracked piece of silliness.

From opening industrial-fooling to tape tomfoolery with a whole lot of guitar-shaking inbetween, Bonk break no new ground here with these dinosaur beats, but like The Darkness, Turbonegro and Monster Magnet, they are the new owners of gleeful, non-PC, good old-fashioned rock music, with an ear for the past and an eye on the future.

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