Hailing from Trondheim in Norway, you can be forgiven for not having heard of this trio of noisy boys in ‘Bokassa‘ before. They started out their journey in 2013 and sitting in relative obscurity, despite having released two critically acclaimed albums, ‘Divide and Conquer‘ in 2017 and ‘Crimson Riders‘ in 2019. It was the latter that drew the attention of Lars Ulrich and clearly, he enjoyed them enough to include them on Metallica’s European tour of that year.
Fusing stoner rock and hardcore punk, adding a dash of NWOBHM and a healthy slice of Motorhead, ‘Bokassa’ have created their own genre of ‘Stoner Punk‘. With all those elements combined and a touch of humour, it is clear that these chaps will have a popular following based on their third release, ‘Molotov Rocktail‘.
‘Freelude‘ starts us off with a loose feeling stoner rock inspired introduction. A melancholic and introspective sounding start before the guitars are turned up and the drums kick in. It already gives the impression that there is a power and solidity to the music, the riff is muscular, rhythm section tight as ducks’ backside.
Bård Linga gets ‘So Long Idiots!‘ started with his rumbling bass line. When the guitars kick in it becomes clear that the band are absolutely bang on in their summation of their style. The fusion between punk and stoner, borrowing sing-a-long chorus here and applying a super solid stoner riff there. A great start to the album which only whets the appetite for more.
‘Pitchforks R Us‘ is a tongue-in-cheek comment on protest culture. There is more than a little influence coming through of NWOBHM but then this combines nicely with the punkier elements of the song. It is nice to see that humour still exists in this bands’ approach to their music.
‘Hereticules‘ is another song for Mr Linga to guide us through with a stomping bass line. This being another great mix of styles. Slightly slower than your average punk tune which gives the stonerpunk tag more accessibility. The chorus employing familiar punk backing vocals.
‘Low (And Behold)‘ is a mid-paced drinking anthem which one can assume the crowd participation would be an important part of the live performance. I can picture scenes of beer-drenched masses at festivals during this song.
‘Godless‘ gives us a riff that would easily grace any decent stoner rock tune. But running through the seam of this is a vocal that could easily be a part of any decent punk song. It is a happy matrimony and ‘Bokassa’ carry it off with aplomb.
‘Molotov Rocktail‘ the title track, smashes us into a more rapid punkier sounding number. This is a short but incisive tune is replete with all the essential ingredients of hardcore sound. A stomper!
‘Burn It All (P.T.S.D.E.A.D)‘ is another beer-soaked punk anthem. In their own words, is a perfect uptempo Bokassa track. ‘From the stoney lead riff, to the melodic chorus and verse to the metal riff in the bridge, makes this song pop.’ It is yet another example how they incorporate humour into their songs and videos. Maybe dressing up and applying corpse paint in 30 degree heat wasn’t the best of ideas…
‘Careless (In The Age Of Altruism)‘ is chock-full of crunchy riffage and hooks for you to enjoy. The song is about being disillusioned with society and trying to avoid it whilst seemingly existing in your own bubble. The wordplay is great and it may be the only song that includes the priceless line, ‘No, I didjeridon’t!’
‘Code Red’, the penultimate track, is a stoner stomper. More hooks and more cracking riffs with a nice mix of styles within. This is a slower, more deliberate tune that grabs the attention.
Final tune, ‘Immortal Space Pirate 3: Too Old For This Sith‘, is an epic saga of a song that leaves us in no doubt that ‘Bokassa‘ have a bunch of different styles in the armoury that they are consummately able to deliver. This is another tune that will happily appease the stoner rock fan.
In short, there is very little to disappoint about this album. ‘Bokassa‘ should get the recognition they deserve for this magnificent opus. Dynamics are incredibly important when there are only three band members, but the production quality is superb and the band sound like they enjoy the niche they have found in their music. There is a beautiful light-hearted humour running throughout the album as can be seen from the videos they have thoughtfully created. The influences run clear through the album yet, it is hard to completely pigeonhole the band to a particular style, thus ‘stonerpunk‘ was born.
Again I’m going to refrain from calling Savage anything more then a passing grade effort, the production probably could been better, and while I don’t mind the modern influences too much, some songs flow better then other ultimately leaving a fair overall music experience for me.