TITLE: CRIMSON RIDERS
WORDS: COLIN CAPP
Hailed by Metallica’s Lars Ulrich as his “new favourite band” and currently embarking on a tour in support of the metal giants; Bokassa have burst into life with their brilliant second album. If you’re a fan of hardcore, rock or Star Wars puns there is something for you here.
Their homeland of Norway is known for its church burning, black metal history but Bokassa appear keen to shred the stereotype and show their lighter side with song titles such as ‘Immortal Space Pirate 2: The Last Shredi’ (yes, there’s a part 1) and ‘Brolougue’, the gnarly, dark instrumental which opens the album, setting the tone for the face melting riffs which make up the rest of the 8 tracks.
All the messing about ends with the tongue in cheek album titles as the music on display here is seriously good. The band describes their style as “stonercore”, a blend between hardcore punk and stoner rock, mixing technical guitar riffs and aggressive vocals over the rhythm section providing a solid and steady groove, ‘Wrath is Love’ achieving this fusion perfectly. The title track and ‘Blunt Force Karma’ present the hardcore side to the band, both songs flying by furiously at breakneck speed.
“If you’re a fan of hardcore, rock or Star Wars puns there is something for you here.”
Jørn Kaarstad’s relentlessly shouts throughout the majority of this album and mixed with the instrumentation it makes for some gloriously heavy tracks. The guitar work is fantastic, the riff from ‘Mouthbreathers Inc’ incorporating hammer ons, pull offs and pinch harmonics to brilliant effect. The rhythm section underneath this also sounds tight and the talent on offer is clear.
Although every track is heavy the band also have a knack for writing anthemic choruses. Most songs feature a hook so catchy it will etch its way into your brain. The backing chant vocals in ‘Captain Cold One’ and the brutal ‘Charmed and Extremely Treacherous’ feel like they were made to be screamed along to by arena sized crowds and show the potential the band possess.
The biggest curveball comes in ‘Vultures’ which proves the capability and boldness of the band. The most commercial song of the album ditches the shouts in favour of clean, Mark Lanergan esque vocals, leading to a dark and moody verse which explodes into another huge chorus. Then half way through a saxophone solo takes centre stage, defying all expectations, showing this band can be daring to brilliant effect.
“a thrilling, accomplished set of songs.”
The album comes to a close with the second part of the ‘Immortal Space Pirate’ saga, a seven-minute journey of all of the crushing riffs the band could conjure up. A mix up of dynamics provide a brief, chilled middle section before the band build the track back up to end outrageously and in your face; exactly what you would expect and the brilliantly brutal conclusion this collection of songs deserves.
This all results in a thrilling, accomplished set of songs. There are some incredibly heavy moments that will have you headbanging along, but every song also has infectious hooks proving how varied the song writing can be. Tempos are also experimented with as the band can mix slow stoner rock grooves with exhilaratingly fast punk beats. It makes for an exciting listen and an album you will definitely want to come back to. Bokassa have proven the high praise bestowed upon them by a rock legend, is deserved and they are a band you need to check out!