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If you ask someone what colour they associate with metal, you’ll get some fairly predictable answers. “Black” is your most likely, followed by “crimson” if you’re trapped chatting to an art student at a house party. Bokotono just aren’t like that though. If the cover of their EP hints at anything, it’s psychedelia, splattering a frantic pallet of tones and shades onto a single four-track canvas.
If you’ve read my other metal reviews you’ll know I’m a sucker for highly melodic metal and, honestly, it’s like Bokotono are trying to butter me up. ‘Butcher No Blood’ starts you off in a weird, unstable world before coming at you with melodic riffs—pulling you from one place to the next like a Scooby Doo chase scene.
There are so many moods and tones on display in a single song. The band cites And So I Watch You From Afar as an influence—and it shows. There’s a little bit of the dark and frightening atmosphere of Daughters (sweet Christ, not to be confused with pop-folk outfit Daughter) and Converge here too. Honestly, there’s so much to dig through and tear apart that this whole article could just be a list of influences.
Ireland is rife with scary-talented metal musicians in any case. One might worry that all the choice would make it tough to distinguish any in particular, but Bokotono are very much their own men. There are so many influences mixed together here that it’s inevitable something brand new would drag itself out of the pot.
It takes some clever musicians to put together such a mind-bending journey of a song like ‘Closet Disco Queen’ (probably the most accessible track for your standard metal fan) and this musical wit is such a refreshing trait in a band. There’s so much at play in the guitar work, serious skill in the arrangements. It’s a joy.
Bokotono call themselves boisterous and precise. Those are two words that I wouldn’t have used, if only because I’m verging on illiterate. It’s perfect. There’s such a smile and a wink about these tracks, a humour that makes it a real pleasure to hit play one more time when you reach the end of Bokotono.
Can I criticise it? Sure. Some of the mixing isn’t great. There are moments when the level fades out way too much and other times when there’s so much going on that all the colours blur into a browny-grey splodge. On a full-length release I’d be harsher, but for an EP it’s not the worst crime.
They’re bold colours, picked with intent. The picture they paint is so vibrant and fun to look at, you could spend hours pouring over each slice. Give it a listen on Spotify now, it’s well worth your time.