Although debut 2010 album ‘No Light For Mass’ from these Norwegians barely made any mark that I heard of there has been a real buzz about their follow up Snakereigns. I keep hearing mentions of black metal and punk being fused together and the kult part of the name has seen hipsters raving on about them as being one of the next big things. For those of us who lived through punk it’s something we have heard before and taken all on the chin whilst watching trends come and go. I have to say that there is a lot of punk to be heard in black metal; punk is fast, violent and quick to put the boot in. The likes of Discharge in particular paved the way for bands to get that brutally honed sound down and you can easily hear its influence coming across in the likes of Darkthrone, Bathory and continued by Shatraug, Nattefrost and Hoest who have clearly also been influenced. What about punk having black metal in it though, hmmm think about that, punk came first and can you have an egg before a chicken?
So what about Okkultokrati then? As ‘No Ouroboros’ bursts out and tries to consume itself there is absolutely no denying this is punk through and through. We have the gob laden attitude of the likes of Charlie Harper and Jimmy Pursey as well as the simplistic three chord style jagged guitars . There is also a strong garage element; it has that Norwegian rock hard, drink hard attitude about it with a nice crusty edge, heavy reverb driven bass and plenty of snarling gravitas from a singer you can imagine screwing up their face and sneering with total contempt. Do I hear black metal though? In a word no and with the title track all of under two minutes, apart from a death grunt (or is that a punk belch), it’s all very obvious that this owes to the nihilistic excesses of everyone from GG. Allin to Sid Vicious but it would take someone either trying to market this for idiots to call it anything else other than punk or hard rock. ‘Invisible Ley’ has me hearing The Ramones, The Stooges and even the likes of D.I. and I kind of would not have been surprised to hear a cover of ‘Richard Hung Himself’ especially from Black Qvisling’s drawn out ugly vocal stance. By now it does have a classic American punk feel to it.
Is it any good though, yeah I guess so, it is above average but not something that we have not heard countless times before and again the only people that seriously could be taken in by the hype around it are those of a younger and hipper persuasion, like those who raved over Children Of Technology. As for the slow chug on ‘I Thought Of Demons’ I thought they were suddenly going to cover Type O Negative’s ‘Black Number One,’ itself American gothic punk at its best. ‘Acid Eagle One’ sees them going more garage and experimental taking things down to a slow crawl and powering away with heavyset riffs, guess this is the new wave number Television through to Husker Du and one that well outstays it’s welcome before trying to inject bits of Black Flag’s immediacy when it is far too late.
Yeah I have been a bit on the critical side here but I hate it when things get hyped up and jumped upon when they are pretty damn average and nothing that has not been done to death in the past. I think the group know how ironic they are being here too why else would they call a track ‘We So Heavy, before drawing things out with another 7 minute clunker with way too much substance and not enough style?
Occasionally they do get it right and last number ‘Nothing Awaits’ is the perfect example and is bold, brash, in your face and quick to get out of it after giving you a good clobbering. It could even have been a classic nihilistic, anarchist punk anthem in the 80’s but now this is nothing more than a flash in the pan.
(6/10 Pete Woods)