It’s probably not an option to mention Bokassa these days without throwing in Metallica’s name. Plucked out of relative obscurity to support the Thrash legends in 2019 thanks to Lars Ulrich, I’m not the only one who had possibly heard their name but couldn’t place them with any detail.
Bokassa – All Out Of Dreams (Indie Recordings)
Release Date: 16 February 2024
Words: Paul Hutchings
They then released their third album, Molotov Rocktail, in 2021, a clever, punchy collection of songs that lingered long in the memory. Bokassa’s diverse mix of stoner, punk and Metal made it difficult not to be enthused by their short anthemic power.
For those that worship the riff [let’s face it, if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be reading this, would you], All Out Of Dreams is a pleasure from start to finish. It’s a real blend of skate punk, stoner, and metallic Hardcore, all wrapped up in ten songs that burst through in just over 30 minutes.
For a trio, the three members of the band, Jørn Kaarstad [guitar and lead] vocals, Olav Dowkes [drums and vocals] and Bård Linga [bass and vocals], make a hell of a racket, and in a very good way indeed.
When I reviewed the third album, Molotov Rocktail, I noted that it wasn’t going to be the biggest cerebral challenge. But here, the mood is a little more sombre, as the band explain. “All Out Of Dreams is an album where the feeling of resignation is present on several of the album’s tracks.
“Whether it deals with one’s own failures, maybe you feel the system failed you, perhaps because of failed government policies, or that you’ve just given up on it all. The common denominator is that everyone you encounter or hear from in the lyrics has lost hope, which is something the album’s title, All Out Of Dreams, alludes to.”
The good news is that Bokassa have, if anything, upped the level of Metal, and continue with a rocky edge that allows maximised enhancement of the gravel throated roar of Kaarstad. While there is an underlying power that surges through every song, each track switches style, sometimes subtly but with enough dynamism to be noticeable and to maintain the interest throughout.
The stomping of The Ending Starts Today, for example, is followed by the fiery punk rocker Garden Of Heathen, which sees Sick Of It All’s Lou Koller join in to give it even more heft. Something that isn’t needed but works well.
Two contrasting yet similar tunes, both with thunderously heavy riffing, are both completely turned on their head by the Skater soundtrack of the title track. You’ll be singing along in minutes, whether you want to or not!
Underneath the waterfall of riffs, Bokassa’s sound stands apart because they can weave in melody after melody. Red Fang’s Aaron Beam drops in on the stoner trip of Bradford Death Squadron (I’m intrigued to know if they have ever visited Bradford), whilst Let’s Storm The Capitol needs no explanation (does it?).
As the album spirals towards its conclusion, there’s a laid-back vibe on Gung Ho, which promotes visions of US deserts, not the Trondheim hometown that Bokassa originated, and the longest song on the album, closing track, Crush (All Heretics), which provides a sludgy yet melodious conclusion.
It’s an album that’s been in the can for some time. Recorded in 2022, you may have heard some of these tracks if you caught them with Therapy? late last year (before the cancellation, obviously!).
If not, then it’s a strong recommendation that you get involved with an album that hits hard, plays hard, and is likely to be on the playlist for some time to come.