BOFO KWO-LEGEND OF A CANNIBAL KING
When I listen to black metal, I don’t often expect narrative. Thematically and conceptually, perhaps, but I feel most black metal records traditionally do not carry an actual storyline. Enter Bofo Kwo, a Finnish black metal band leaning on the symphonic edge. Occasionally, you get a nice little throwback to the early, classic days of black metal and Bofo Kwo seems to be just that.
Based out of Helsinki, the band consists of three members: Kimmo Lindholm, Janne Winther, and Ted Egger, or maybe better known by their character names: Wamufo, Bomari, and the aforementioned Bofo Kwo. Their handles are derived from a story that Egger has created based around the character of Bofo Kwo, a cannibal king who brings two young men on a journey with him from an island and into a science fiction laden trek. Each song acts as pieces within a chapter, for each album is an entry in the story of Bofo Kwo.
It’s interesting to see how a focused narrative translates into black metal. Story-driven albums seem to perk up more within the progressive or extreme metal genres, the hallmarks of which assist in building the bombastic nature of Legend of a Cannibal King. This initiation in their musical epic, which is set to chronicle its way through seven chapters, is all parts anthemic, weird, gruesome, and a little bit corny. It made me harken back to King Diamond’s timeless releases such as Abigail and “Them”, just not nearly as over-the-top in nature. They pull influence from their black metal forefathers like Mayhem and Satyricon, classical, and even grunge.
The intro track acts as a foreboding welcome to this bonkers world that Egger has created. It also reminded me that black metal albums have the best prologues. This leads into the first real track, “Enduring the Smell of Burning Flesh.” It rises from a light, symphonic presence into dizzying strings, plus a little groove thrown in there. The track breathes classic black metal, but also is oddly fun to listen to for such a macabre subject.
“Son of Hatred” begins with a chorus of bleating angels or cherubs and makes you feel like could be standing outside of a damned church. Bofo Kwo creates a very big sound for just three members on this song, with looming bass almost with a doom vibe to them and a power metal solo backed by some croaking demons. It mellows down to an ambient close with some lifted dialogue about unstoppable evil (I could not tell you where it was lifted from).
With grooving bass backed by the lusting chants of women and a grotesque narrator, “Black Unicorn” would fit right into an 80s horror film anthem. Like Joel Schumacher would hear this and say, “Let’s remake The Lost Boys and just use metal for the soundtrack.” The guitar sounds a bit muted to highlight the rhythm section and vocals. The song goes on for a bit too long, and ultimately winds up feeling like a blackened up Cathedral song, just a little faster.
“Taste the Violence” gets back to the darker roots and comes off as sounding like they used equipment of a lesser standard, which is a classic move for black metal bands. The orchestration is subtler here and rises with the band’s real instruments, allowing the guitar to play out well against the bass and drums. After a dramatic close with Egger performing his best on the album, it ends abruptly with a quick, spooky movie piano scale.
Onto the next chapter.
Bofo Kwo has put together a solid first entry in their ambitious project. They have some growing to do, but it is all stemming from a sound foundation. Their style may not be the most popular take on black metal right now, but it feels refreshing to have a band of this nature actually being a bit of fun to listen to. They have a potentially long path ahead of them and plenty of time to refine and focus their craft.