I would like to say that I was a fan of Bokassa since their 2017 debut album release Divide & Conquer.
But that is untrue.
I came across the name while debating whether I needed to see Ghost on the Metallica Worldwired Tour of 2019. The answer was no, to hold out for a headlining show. (I have seen Metallica at least four times, in fairness…) It would appear that not even Ghost had a full house in their top support slot, Bokassa, despite Lars Ulrich’s endorsement, were sadly not exposed to the audience which they deserve.
Despite being new to the Bokassa game, this playtime will not have a curfew.
If you too are somewhat unfamiliar, the band bills itself as ‘stonerpunk’ and they are a Norwegian trio which formed in 2013 and consist of Jørn Kaarstad on lead vocals and guitar, Bård Linga on bass and drummer Olav Dowkes.
Crimson Riders was my introduction and I have since rinsed out their back catalogue with delight. I hesitate to add, that Bokassa seem to be going from strength to strength, harder and more powerful too. A power trio to perhaps even rival Budgie? Witty lyrics, crushing riffs and addictively catchy tracks demonstrate the evolution of a band bucking the trend with ecstatic exuberance. Melancholic moments, crossing genres and generations. It’s metal, it’s punk, it’s stoner, it’s hardcore, metalcore, progressive and psychedelic. With hooks that make you wriggle with pleasure
Kaarstad has said:
“On our first record, we tried to downplay all of the hooks, because everybody in Norway was making this weird play for radio at the time and we didn’t want to sound like anyone else. This time, the sound evolved naturally. It was more melodic. We have the fastest and hardest songs we’ve ever made and the most poppy. It’s really diverse. It can’t be pigeonholed.”
Opening with the darkly hypnotic, but highly engaging Brologue. It’s heavy, a little psychedelic and with a fierce stoner groove. This is but a delicious morsel to whet the appetite. We then plummet full pelt into Charmed and Extremely Dangerous which is a bombastic hybrid of early Offspring skate-punk vibes and every great feel-good party anthem you may have ever stormed a dancefloor to!
The tempo slows a little for Vultures which introduces more of a desert/ stoner rock feel but with added sax! In writing, it sounds wrong. Desperately wrong. But it is bloody marvellous.
More Nik Turner in Hawkwind than Greased Up Sax Man in 80’s movie classic The Lost Boys! The track is actually about the American border patrol, overlying the melody there is depth and sadness to the lyrics. It’s a raw and emotional track despite the harmonious woo-hoo choruses.
The first single Mouthbreathers Inc. is written from from the perspective of a dictator or a cult leader and what goes through his mind when the throne crumbles. It’s a visceral stomp, with a hint of madness and rage and you can check it out here
Wrath Is Love increases the levels of dirge before heading in for a dark, anthemic status which builds from sleazy nu-metal into a pit starter. The title track, Crimson Riders incorporates more progressive elements (proper old-school prog and prog metal) with speed and thrash! Exhilarating, but leaving you craving more!
Captain Cold One shifts genres in a fast paced stomper with moments of the dirtiest riffing and chanted whoa’s this decade.
Kaarstad has said:
‘ The Captain is a man who lives for the weekend, and every day is a weekend for Captain Cold One! He’s your friend with a devil on his shoulder, he’s the lovable anti-hero, he’s the person voted most likely to not succeed at his graduation, and he is (most importantly) a man who lives like it’s Friday even though it’s only Monday! Musically it’s everything from a hardcore BEASTIE BOYS verse to a pop-punk woah-extravaganza-chorus to a SLAYER-esque metal breakdown. I wrote the song after hearing a radio special about songs with woooahs in them, and decided to write the most epic woooah song out there.”
Captain Cold One is the hero we deserve! See what you think!
Blunt Force Karma is an altogether thrashier and punkier affair. High octane and assertive rather than aggression inducing with a devastatingly dark breakdown. The darker feel continues into the almost seven minute long Immortal Space Pirate 2 epic. This is a continuation of the astonishing Immortal Space Pirate (Stoner Anthem) which appeared on Divide & Conquer. This is the second part of a ‘space opera’ concerning the roaming and ruminations of an immortal space pirate. Heavy, sludgey grooves with melancholic overtones and psychedelic elements, it neatly caps off the adventure that commenced with Brologue.
This will be my soundtrack for the summer, it could well be every thing for all metallers/ rockers/ punks/ indie kids and your grandparents too. Offspring meets Electric Six and Hawkwind, via Turbonegro, Kyuss and Bloodhound Gang!
Give it a spin, you will not regret it!
Crimson Riders is out now and available to purchase here
- Charmed & Extremely Treacherous
- Mouthbreathers Inc.
- Wrath Is Love
- Crimson Riders
- Captain Cold One
- Blunt Force Karma
- Immortal Space Pirate 2
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