Review Summary: Gloriously and instantly irresistible stonerpunk.
Bokassa is a special band. They are the kind of band who displays a degree of innovation, a level of creativity and a feeling of familiarity expected from the accomplished standard-bearers of a genre despite the facts that they have been criminally overlooked and released their debut album only a year ago. “Divide & Conquer”
, in its own right, is a classic record because it illustrates Bokassa’s ability to blend countless genres together to create its own style that the band has uniquely classified and claimed as ‘stonerpunk’… And it’s deliciously addictive.
Every now and then a band or an album comes along and ticks every box of what you may require from new music to keep you interested. For hard rock and metal fans seeking a fresh well-oiled riff machine that never breaks momentum and latches onto your senses making you feel exactly how the song sounds- restless, excited, delighted, intrigued, confident- over an easily digestible period of time, “Divide & Conquer”
is the album you’ve been waiting to spontaneously appear. Luscious grooves, infectious vocals, spry rhythms and a tangible exhilaration is what makes Bokassa’s debut album irresistible and each of these tools is used bountifully throughout the album. “Retaliation” is 62 seconds of pure rock fury where a stretching harmony twists into a firework display of explosive, colourful melodies while the central riffs for “Five Finger ***head” and “Last Night (Was a Real Massacre)” are meaty and hazy at the same time, exhibiting a southern, uncaring, uncompromising strut while the swift, playful hooks branching off the core riffs are sporadic, jazzy and fantastically catchy. Connected together, the mutually-attuned musicianship of Bokassa is like spokes branching from the centre of a well-oiled wheel rolling over everything in its rocky path.
What is Stonerpunk then" Stripped down, it’s nothing unheard of; mixed together, Bokassa unlocks numerous possibilities revealing a rich tapestry knitted together by the urgent hand of hardcore with the elasticity and simple liveliness of stoner rock. Parts of every song on “Divide & Conquer”
remind the band’s audience of bands influential to both subgenres, hence the recognisability of Bokassa’s sound. “Genocidal Intentions” focuses more on the hardcore aesthetic with bracing drumming, a vocal performance from Jørn Kaarstad akin to Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed and a huge mosh-call at its climax. On the other hand, “Immortal Space Pirate (The Stoner Anthem)” ventures into lengthier psychedelic territories with an airier, freer, motorcycle-down-the-open-highway atmosphere than its counterparts. However, Bokassa mixes these influences together to create their own unique flavour. At first, “Crocsodile Dundee” kicks off with a paced, curvaceous riffing and overdrive solos, however, after the catchy chorus, the song twists into zigzagging guitars and sharp vocals. Similarly, “Walker Texas Danger” sounds like Cancer Bats sharing a joint with Orange Goblin.
“Divide & Conquer”
is such a creative lesson in how to blend genres seamlessly and the fact that it is done so seamlessly increases the album’s replay value a hundredfold. The best compliment these Norwegians can possibly receive is how uplifting their music sounds. The barrage of muscular riffs, furious rhythmic changes and massive singalong moments the band pummels their audience with is nigh on impossible to keep still to, accentuated by the burly production and precise mixing which ensures there are no moments of respite in the album. Finally, listening to it in its entirety or picking individual tracks yields the same ecstatic results, as all classic albums do. The world needs to know who Bokassa is because they truly are a special band.