[schema type=”review” name=”Bookakee – Ignominies” description=”Label: Independent release” author=”Sarp Esin” pubdate=”2018-06-29″ ]
I’m not gonna lie, I’m a bit confused. Bookakee was advertised as “Canada’s answer to GWAR,” but I am not sure if GWAR was a question (and in that case, “yes” is likely to be the answer) and if the answer to that question was progressive death metal, especially under such a titillating name (don’t pretend that you don’t know, I know that you do.) So how about it?
First off, let’s just say that the label “progressive death metal” is misleading. What Bookakee offer with Ignominies is progressive metal with death undertones and with several other genres thrown in, sure, but it is an altogether different monster. You get your usual metal rigmarole, your speedy drums and double kicks; your gurgles and pig squeals (little in the way of proper growls); riffs that go from slow-chug to fast, 0 to 90 at the drop of a hat; very tasty leads when they appear and adequate bass. What’s also on offer are little touches of improv, be it a hasty guitar pluck here or atmospheric keyboards that appear in blink-and-you’ll miss it moments throughout. Lest we forget, there are atmospheric elements present that serve to give the album an overall space-opera feel with the synth choirs and all the keyboards woven throughout the songs.
Confused? Well, so am I.
See, Bookakee consists of fairly talented musicians and seems to have a direction, but I’ll be damned if I can tell what that direction actually is. If there is one severe pitfall of Ignominies is that the claimed “progressive” aspect of the music come in the form of nothing sticking together. This is a feature of not only the individual songs, but the album as a whole. I mean, Ignominies plods along with songs switching abruptly between completely different music styles, and the abruptness robs them of all semblance of flow. To give an example, Muliebria is a very nice song until it experiences a sudden and drastic shift into flamenco, of all things, and that shift demolishes the flow it had going.
The album itself doesn’t fare much better. Ignominies experiences a total break from itself right after Muliebria. You first get a short intermission (Intermission 1,) then an instrumental song consisting of Super Mario covers (Mario Whirl and I am not even joking), followed by a keyboard-heavy instrumental ballad (Refuge Insideoux) before switching over to a rather grindcore-like number (Scullion…) and that’s before trying to return to more familiar territory (Celestial Decimation) and failing spectacularly because they just don’t actually maintain anything. It’s as if the album was compiled from a bucket list, and unfortunately, this prevents it from being immersive in the slightest. Every time you settle in, Bookakee yanks you right out and thrusts you into something else.
Also, I’m gonna mention here that Celestial Decimation features a dubstep section. No, not dubstep mixed with metal, just dubstep. But then again, the song itself is an 11 minute mess that does nothing to justify its length because, guess what, the abovementioned approach to songwriting doesn’t lend itself to tracks longer than standard song length, at all.
So in the end, is Ignominies worth checking out? Depends. It’s too “prog” for the death metal crowd, too “death” for prog crowd, too unstructured to be cohesive and seems to be confused as to what it really wants to be. But, if you like any of these things (or a combination thereof) and want to try something a bit different, a bit more sporadic, then you may give this a go. Otherwise, there is better stuff out there.
Philippe Langelier – Vocals
Simon Pierre Gagnon – Guitars
Jonathan Gagnon – Guitars
Jonathan David – Bass
JP Bouchard – Drums
01. Monarch of the Depraved
04. Oculus Nebula
06. Intermission 1
07. Mario Whirl
08. Refuge Insideux
09. Intermission 2
11. Celestial Decimation
12. As We Assault Empyrean