Sep 282010

That got your attention, didn’t it?

Some small number of you might have been visiting this site back in January and some even smaller number might remember that we wrote then about a South African band called Haggis and Bong. Maybe more will remember than we think,  because that’s a name you don’t easily forget.

Back in January, when we first heard about Haggis and Bong, they were a 3-man show:  Angus “Haggis” Nixon on the Great Highland Bagpipes, Thomas “Bong” Hughes on the kit drum, and Dominic “The Dominator” Skelton on the Great Highland Bagpipes.

Yes, you read that correctly.  This was an instrumental metal band that consisted of nothing but bagpipes and drums. But man, could they rip the hell out of a song, combining a furious double-bagpipe attack with lots of blast beats and double-bass.

Now, the line-up has expanded, and Haggis and Bong have added a full-time bass-player, as well as guest musicians, including a trombonist.

Back in January, the band had released one album, brilliantly entitled Fire in the Bowl.  Only problem was that unless you could catch a live show in South Africa, there was no fucking way to get a personal copy of the music.

Ever since January, we’ve waited and watched and searched, and there has just been no fucking way to download the tunes, either legally or illegally. We were completely hostage to the Haggis and Bong MySpace page. Now, finally, that frustrating situation has changed! (more after the jump, including Haggis and Bong music to hear . . .)

Haggis and Bong have made four songs available for free download on their ReverbNation page. Now, finally, we can carry this music around with us wherever we may roam, and we can bang our fucking heads to bagpipe metal whenever the mood strikes us (which is usually when we’ve got a black-out drunk in progress).

Back in January, the band cited as its influences Lamb of God, Black Dahlia Murder, Celtic Folk Music, Behemoth, Suffocation, The Cherry Popping Daddies, Bagad Kemper, and The Simon Fraser University Pipe Band. Made sense to us.

Now, the band cites a revised group of influences on its MySpace page: Lamb of God, Symphony X, Chris Armstrong, Behemoth, Johnny Clegg, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Eluveitie and Flogging Molly. Who remembers the Mahavishnu Orchestra except me, and Haggis and Bong? Flogging Molly is fucking great, too.

Back in January, Angus Nixon used the nickname “Haggis” and Thomas Hughes used the nickname “Bong”. Now they answer to “Gussy Groovespeare” and “Ug Madness”, respectively. That’s cool, too, though we really don’t think it’s possible to improve on “Haggis” and “Bong”.

And there’s one more piece of news: Haggis and Bong are working on their second album. We can’t fucking wait.

Because (and yes, we’re finally getting around to the fucking music), Haggis and Bong prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Highland pipes are metal.

I confess to a strong bias on the subject. These days, I don’t listen to much of anything that isn’t metal. Just can’t be bothered. But one of the exceptions is bagpipe music. I’ve been a fan for many years, I know pipers, I listen to live pipe and drum performances a couple times a year (and the sound of the Highland pipes in an enclosed space will blow your head clean off).

I’ve even tried to get my mind around pibroch, which is sort of like the tech-death version of pipe music — no jigs, reels, hornpipes, or easy-to-embrace folk melodies, just a lot of very technical, and often atonal, explorations of musical themes.

None of this makes me an expert on pipe music, but I’ve listened to enough that I feel pretty comfortable saying that Nixon and Skelton are a couple of badass pipers — and Hughes is no slouch on the drums either. The combination of metal-style drumming and bagpipe shredding works really well — if you like pipe music, that is.

Yes, we know full well that the sound of bagpipes makes some people run into the streets screaming. On the other hand, some people are affected the same way by the sound of extreme metal. So, try to keep an open mind and give this a chance. Here’s one of those downloadable tracks from Fire in the Bowl:

Haggis and Bong: Spandex (It’s A Privilege Not A Right)

We’re looking forward to hearing a bass guitar added to this mix. Should make the sound even more metal. Bring it on!

  7 Responses to “HAGGIS AND BONG”

  1. I’m listening to Spandex (It’s a Priviedege not a Right) and…hot damn if it’s not a toe tapper. Seriously, it makes my foot jiggle the same way it does as when I’m listening to good tech death.

    I’m not really a bagpipe fanatic or anything, but I appreciate the pipes, so this is pretty cool.

    I could go for some heavily down tuned and distorted guitars though.

    Better than that one Korn track though.

    • It’s hard not to want some down-tuned guitars, or even bass, to kick in. You really notice the absence of those sounds if you listen to metal most all the time. Because I listen to pipe music, too, maybe it’s not quite so alien to me.

      I do have another band whose new album makes heavy use of bagpipes along with all the traditional metal instruments. It’s damned cool. With any luck, I’ll have a review of that album up here in a few days.

  2. Fuckin’ amazing! Especially when drummer man starts kicking the bass drums.

  3. If you like bagpipes in your metal, check out In Extremo. Eluveitie and Skyforger also use them a lot.

    Lots of other bands that aren’t Korn have used them in some of their material, including Blind Guardian, Mägo de Oz, Suidakra and Grave Digger.

    Graveworm’s cover of “Fear Of The Dark” also has them halfway through:

    • I know many of those bands, but In Extremo, Gravework, Mägo de Oz, and Graveworm are new to me. Really like that Graveworm track.

      • Yeah, they’ve been mentioned before due to some of their covers, but they kick ass on their own merits. “Fear Of The Dark” is my personal fave of the covers, but “I Need A Hero” and “Losing My Religion” are also well done.

        In Extremo is German, with a Latin name. I’m not too familiar with them, so I don’t know if they have anything in English, but I do know that like Eluveitie, they’ve taken traditional songs, as well as some German poetry.

        Mägo de Oz is folk metal. May or may not be to your liking, so be forewarned. Like with In Extremo, I am not very familiar with all of their stuff, so I’ve no idea if it’s all in Spanish or not.

        Since I’m on the subject, I may as well also mention Corvus Corax. Yep, another German band with a Latin name. More so than other folk metal bands, their goal is to have modern renditions of what would likely be the metal of the Middle Ages. Or something like that.

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