In the world of heavy metal there is always an underlying dick measuring contest among bands whose only desire is to create a sound as heavy and skull crushing as possible. While in some respects this is a noble goal, it also can result in an extreme lack of variation as a result of senselessly beating the listener with no real direction or development in mind. With their own particular brand of stoner metal, Gorilla Monsoon demonstrate the dangers of a heavy-centric approach that only focuses on the ideology of blowing the listener away.
Firegod kicks off with a serious bang, exploding out of the gate with bottomed-out guitars, in your face percussions, and some sirens thrown in the background for dramatic effect; it all gives the feeling of a sped up version of Black Sabbath‘s “War pigs”. This a formula that, to an extent, the band follows throughout the whole album, with song intros providing some character to the music, before slipping into the meat of a performance that is too consistently tough to swallow. The body of the sound scrapes along through the gutters and ditches of the sonic palette, creating an intentionally dirty listening experience; this thanks to the heavy distort on the guitar, as well as to vocals that are in constant “spoken growl,” with a surprising attention to detail on enunciation. There is certainly nothing wrong with a crushing and filthy approach to music, but when the tools used for its construction are repeatedly taken advantage of again and again, it turns the sound into a swampy mire that makes for an unremarkable listening experience.
The strength of Firegod lies in its intros, channeling the likes of Black Sabbath and Grand Magus, mixed in with Gorilla Monsoon’s own unique Southern twists and turns. Unfortunately the intrigue of the intros does not carry into the rest of the sound, which consistently bottoms out at mach speed and buries itself deep into the dirt. This results in a predictable sound that lacks any development, and that actually managed to get me to yawn a few times. It is a lot like the person you meet at a party who gives a firm hand shake, pleasant smile, cracks a little joke, and then proceeds to go into unsolicited detail about their life as an accountant (no offense to our accountant readers).
While there is certainly no lack of talent in terms of musicianship, there is certainly a lack of ideas and creativity that cripples your ability to sit still and actually listen to the material without getting bored. I can imagine that seeing Firegod performed live would be one hell of a show, but when it comes to sitting down and using it as a fifty minute soundtrack for some portion of your everyday life, it would fall out of rotation faster than the music hits the dirt.