Bottlekopf - The Jokes Are Over
After almost 8 years of silence, Poland’s Bottlekopf is back with more groove laden sludge tinged death metal. A more well rounded 2nd effort, there is much more to consume on “The Jokes Are Over” compared to their debut back in 2014. While the album holds a very basic formula with plenty of chugging riffs, throaty vocals, percussive tapping, and plenty of old school flair, there is enough here to compare the likes of their music to maybe Soulfly’s ‘Conquer’ which almost seemed to follow a similar groove and death metal style, but with more tribal flair.
Bottlekopf have been known for kind of going a bit of a party route by creating a little raucous music with their music, but here they seem a bit more straightforward and less haphazard. After a short percussive introduction to get things going, things jump in gear with ‘Justice’ which has that clunky groove akin to the likes of a group like Hackneyed that crawls or chugs at a mid pace. Very simple but very easy to digest, and from the choice of riffs one can definitely hear a bit of the Soulfly influence. Other tracks like ‘My Breath’ have a bit more energy to them and just churn right along with a more thrashy mix of Pantera meets Six Feet Under.
One thing Bottlekopf do is keep consistency as the album moves on, and that helps and hinders them. While it establishes their sound, the lack of pace and variety can tend to make the tracks a little stale at times. The thundering ‘My Breath’ uses the drums will full force but its mid to slow pace makes it hard to differentiate compared to the likes of ‘Molecule Of Life’ which also uses plenty of anthemic repetition and similar riffs to get the point across. Groove is a fickle addition to the music, and Bottlekopf sometimes get it right, but the chugging sludge influences don’t quite draw enough attention for listeners, even with the droning clean vocals to add something different to the music versus just the death grunts. Even a track like ‘Six Six’ which is stomper, even for a mid pace track, relies on repetition over and over to get listeners to enjoy the track. The track is all meaty from the riffs but without any guitar solos and just a focus on guitar and vocals, it is more like having a burger with just meat and lettuce, no cheese, tomato, pickles, jalapenos… etc. It just sounds like there should be more that just groove from these guys.
‘The Creeper’ finally speeds things up a bit adding more death metal than groove metal into the music, but with the chugging it just doesn’t quite break the monotony, even though some of the riffs are pretty cool.
‘Brainwash’ finally pushes the boundaries with a groove/ sludge instrumental (save for the grunt of brainwash that repeats) that is a bit interesting and finally has some solos, breaking the band out of solo prison for once, It is probably the highlight of the album. ‘Dead Blues’ rounds things out with a bit of a rock oriented almost jazzy death metal piece that will raise eyebrows but certainly garner attention; where were the tracks like this earlier? It sounds a bit out of a character but this funky bit adds a bit more character to Bottlekopf’s music and really brings out the groove elements in a different way versus just sounding like a more basic Soulfly.
‘Supplementary’ closes the album with a hazy instrumental that seems a bit filler, but adds a bit more of a sludge elements. Ultimately this album is a bit between a rock and a hard place because it has death metal but nothing quite as biting or crushing as the likes of other groups out there like Vader, which use groove and ferocity to great effect, and it has the groove metal elements of Soulfly that can be a little repetitive at times but then the tribal elements bring in the flavor.
With Bottlekopf they’ve stepped up the direction by giving us more with their second album, but at the same time it doesn’t quite grab listeners very easily. Death metal listeners may not quite know what to think and groove metal listeners may not be sure what to think, unsure which direction the band really wants to go in. Bottlekopf will just have to showcase more material for us and let us know.
3 / 5 STARS
Sep 20, 2022