Review Summary: We're all dying. Why not be insane?
What is Okkoto? Well, that is a hard question to answer, for it lacks an answer. This band lacks a definite genre. Their music can be best described as hardcore with heavy metal breakdowns, post-rock riffs, mathcore reminiscent guitar moments, occasional ambiance, and spoken-word vocal sections. This has everything. That is not an overstatement either. This album literally is, for lack of better words, undefinable. What are genres worth in the end either way? They tie a band down, Okkoto does not want to be tied down.
Opening the album is a rather paradoxical moment. A single, quiet, electric guitar plucks away, while the drummer lightly taps the cymbals. After a minute or so of the silent intro, the lead vocalist opens up with a poetic, La Dispute-esque, spoken section of lyrics. It deals with the frailties of life, the fascinations of death, and the fear of living an unfulfilled life. In every way, this is the thesis statement for the lyrical content of the album. As the guitars become louder, and the drums are punched harder and harder, the vocalist gets more and more aggressive. Then it cuts out with the lyrics," But, one giant missed opportunity, and I want that flashed before my eyes, that flash of everything I have forgotten. And I have forgotten so much." Childhood/Brotherhood
Following the intro track is a much louder schizophrenic song. "Mathlete," the second song on this album, is pure insanity. After a break down at one point in the song, a noise that sounds like it could have easily come from an NES makes itself present. One of the band members laughs after an insanely fast riff. The guitars speed faster and faster towards the inevitable break down of the song. But, the said inevitable breakdown never comes, instead the singer just screams, and screams, and the pace of the song lessens, fading into a lone drum beat and muted screams. Guitars with a heavy feel of math-rock rebuild into a light footed session of frantic yells and fast-paced drum beats. Then, a crushing wave of music finds itself back in the song. The screams become growls, and the growls become screams all over again. Then, it's over. "Mathlete" is just one of the examples of the brilliant insanity that exists within Childhood/Brotherhood
As the album trails on through its random but well structured, and fitting, tangents, one will come across the track entitled,"Brotherhood." This track really is not a song, it is more of a rant by the lead singer. All alone, without an instrument present in the background he yells out his anger towards this system of life. He expresses his stresses, and his determination to live life as he wants to and not live it under the influence of anyone else. The lyrics here are astounding. " Be what you want to be, because when you're strapped to your deathbed, whether lying mangled and melted between the steel pages of your favorite automobile, or lying comfortably... Or, at least as comfortable as I can imagine one would be in that instance... Your family and friends coaching you through your final few moments. I want to be able to look back on every waking moment of my being and be able to say I did exactly what I wanted to do. Do exactly what you want to do, because in that final moment of nervous, gut-wrenching, anxiety I can swear to you nothing else will matter. Was it time well spent?" Okkoto has it right. They know how life goes. Though this record is calculated chaos and insane at times, Okkoto knows that life is only worth living if it is lived under the control of no one.
Nothing on Childhood/Brotherhood
is out of place. Somehow, the album flows like a river. A winding river it is, yes. It is by no means straight-forward or easy to follow, but it is certainly all connected. Everything corresponds with everything. The instruments reflect the vocals, the vocals reflect the instruments. Everything is in its right place, the drums do their part as the life is beat out of them. The guitars keep the vocals in line, and the bass humbly drones on in the back, barely audible, but always present. It keeps the songs just low enough in tone. Okkoto somehow manage to completely lack an air seriousness, however, which is present on the track "Hanging With the Crowd Got Me Hooked on Phonics." However, this lack of seriousness is not a bad thing. In an album containing such serious lyrical content, it is necessary for a band to let up a bit. The band certainly lets up in "Hanging With the Crowd." The lyrics are nonsensical. This does not at all ruin the album at all, surprisingly. It simply adds to its character. Okkoto does everything right in this album. Of course, the tracks highlighted in this review were simply used as examples to show what Okkoto does in this release. Each song is strong in its own way. There is not a single filler track. Without a doubt, this is worth a listen, or perhaps many listens.