Bokassa – Crimson Riders Review

Self proclaimed “stoner punks” Bokassa are back at it again with their sophomore album Crimson Riders. If we’re to expect anything from a label like “stoner punk”, it would be energetic, tasty riffs, delivered with a middle finger in 30 minutes or less, or your money back guaranteed.

With the album clocking in at 29 minutes, Bokassa come through on that promise. The band proves yet again that they are a certified riff factory. With everything from the thrashy “Blunt Force Karma”, the Melvins-y “Captain Cold One”, the desert rock of “Vultures” and “Charmed & Extremely Treacherous”, and the Converge-like riff in the title track, the riffs department sure had their hands full with this one.

On the lovably stupid “Captain Cold One”, the band pens an ode to a bro who survives “on Nickleback and Trivium” and “can name every character in Mall Cop.” The lyrics are ridiculous but fun, and are complemented by a catchy chorus. The band hits us with this great sinister riff in the song’s bridge. This bridge is then ended with singer/guitarist Jørn Kaarstad coming in sounding like the dude from Smash Mouth, but it fits really well with the tongue-in-cheek theme of the song.

And speaking of vocals, the band incorporates more clean vocals on this album than on their debut. This addition is pretty successful. Kaarstad sounds like QOTSA’s Josh Homme on the verses of “Vultures”, and continues to sing clean throughout the rest of the song. Bokassa experiments more on this track with a quirky sax solo that comes in on the bridge, making this song another standout.

The main issue with this album, however, is that a good chunk of its short run time is forgettable. There are several attempts at stadium-ready choruses (“Wrath is Love”, “Mouthbreathers Inc.”) that fall flat of the hype built around them by their respective verse riffs. Also, the gang vocals quickly go from punky to corny. They sound like the band recorded them 10 feet away from the mic, and they don’t bolster the choruses as much as they should. As much as I enjoy “Captain Cold One” on its own, when combined with several other tracks on this album, I think I’ve my fill of “woah-oh’s” for 2019.

I know there’s the whole punk ethos thing going on here, but I wish the title track stuck around a little longer. The band builds really nicely from the sludgy first half to this awesome frantic riff, but then almost immediately ends it there and squashes all the energy they built up. Also, the closer “Immortal Space Pirate 2: The Last Shredi” constantly feels like its building to something epic, but never really comes through.

I can imagine Bokassa will be loads of fun to see live. If nothing else, the band once again shows that they know how to have a good time on this release. But as a whole, this album is just decent. While there are several playlist-worthy tracks on this album, I don’t see myself coming back to the whole thing much at all.

Best Tracks: Vultures, Captain Cold One, Crimson Riders, Blunt Force Karma

Weakest Tracks: Wrath is Love, Mouthbreathers Inc.

FFO: Red Fang, Kvelertak, Melvins

Overall Score: C+


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