Okkultokrati: Raspberry Dawn

Oslo-based unit takes us down to the dungeon where the jams are dank and the torture is pretty.
Raspberry Dawn
Southern Lord

Okkultokrati defies easy classification. It’s goth, glam, industrial and space rock all at the same time. One suspects that the band’s main dude, Erik Svarte, has a number of classic Hawkwind records in his collection as well as all the Voivod releases. You can probably find him enjoying some Ministry and Joy Division right next to Darkthrone and Bathory while he sips a favorite beverage from the skulls of his enemies. More important than those influences (or Mr. Svarte’s drink of choice), though, is what the man himself whips up on this eight track exploration of the weird.

These are transmissions from somewhere deep inside another dimension, a place where signals from late night metal shows got jammed in the ether, absorbed into the soil and fed to baby space creatures who then traveled to our humble little slab of time to whip up some weighty merriment in the form of records such has this one. Raspberry Dawn opens with “World Peace”, maybe the first and only example of black metal disco. It’s a head-banging, beer-swilling bite of magic that relents not one iota in its six minutes and six seconds. If you have viscera left by the time this track comes to a close you probably weren’t paying attention and should be ashamed of yourself.

As with the best rock ‘n’ roll, there’s something exhilarating about the tune, something that makes you feel like maybe you’re doing something subversive just by listening. The thrill of that, the gooseflesh of it all, doesn’t come all that often but it comes several times here. Svarte could be transmitting this stuff from a dungeon somewhere around the fifth circle of hell or from a dank club on the Lower East Side circa 1977. Iggy, Alan Vega, the Ramones and maybe even James Chance are looking over at this lot and sneering, smiling or shoving broken glass into their collective chests in approval.

There are new elements alive here, including the addition of synthesizer maestro Feffe Severin, who gives the band a kick in the teeth and expands the spectrum of darkness the band occupies. It’s not all tweety-tweet-tweet synth stuff, either. There’s some stuff, such as on “We Love You”, that comes straight from the heart of your sci-fi nightmares and onto the big screen of your mind. It’s big, it’s bold, it’s dramatic and it’ll bath you in the warm bubbles of blackness that have always and will always sooth your leather-clad soul.

The keyboard sounds proved the perfect backdrop to the vomited forth vocals heard on that aforementioned track as well as “Hard to Please, Easy to Kill” (imagine the Cure jamming with Bauhaus and Ministry on a cold autumn night), the what-the-eff of “Hidden Future” and the ballad-y, ambient minded “Ocular Violence”.

Toward the end of the record, things can get a little same-sounding for some ears, but there’s an unmistakable dark and magnetic energy that more than makes up for the stumbling quality we experience there. In the end, you’re not listening to this for the same reason you listen to a Bob Dylan song, so why not turn off your mind, sit back and float downstream. Gently, violently or any ol’ way you choose it.

RATING 7 / 10