Woad-caked, ultra-heavy rock from the West Country

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Gonga

Given that most of its practitioners ape Birmingham’s lovely Black Sabbath, the stoner metal boom has had curiously little impact on British bands. Bristol’s Gonga aim to change that, chiefly by looking like druids and specialising in the kind of neolithic bottom-end sludge-rock we’ve come to associate with Southern California in recent years. Criticising their debut album for sounding dated is a bit like condemning Stonehenge for having no central heating. Suffice to say, Gonga invokes the spirits of the ancients in suitably monumental fashion, and has enough hooks (check the surprisingly Nirvana-ish “Stratofortress”) to raise it way above the fuzzy morass. Good, too, to see Geoff Barrow (chief of the Invada label) keeping busy during Portishead’s indefinite hiatus.