Poster's Note:One of my personally favorite finds this year. Only three tracks, but really REALLY good. Anxious to see these two guys produce an LP.
About the band:
For those who haven’t heard of them, Bölzer are a newer (2008) death metal two piece imbibing the mythos of ancient Europe, and while they both reside in Switzerland, it is KzR (originally from Switzerland but grew up in New Zealand, ex-member of Aphelon) who some may recognize as the most recent addition to the Witchrist line-up on vocals (2013).
Bölzer produces the style of brutal Swiss death metal that hearkens back to the days when "brutal" was a descriptive adjective and not simply indicative of a particular subset of the genre. There’s a sort of cosmic churn to their pummelling, bestial underground metal, the type that exists in some other area before death and black, that puts you in mind of cavemen revering the stars. Think somewhere between Incantaion, early Immolation and Grave. They are well-recognized for crafting dark -- and extremely memorable -- atmospheric tracks. Band members are:
HzR - Drums | KzR - Guitars/Vocals
Switzerland's Bölzer is one of the most unique entities the death metal underground has birthed in years. Following on from their well-received Roman Acupuncture demo (which was reissued by Iron Bonehead Productions), Bölzer now stake a stronger claim for supremacy with the brand-new Aura mini-album.
"With one foot planted in their native land's legendry (namely Hellhammer) and another one planted in a cosmos far away, this duo weave dread-inducing decibels that strike and recoil, bewitchingly serpentine in flow. Aura is simultaneously chaos harnessed, and chaos unleashed: bask in its glow. Recommended for maniacs of Vassavor, Grave Miasma, and Essenz.
1. C.M.E. (06:08)
2. Entranced by the Wolfshook (06:54)
3. The Great Unifier (10:43)
Switzerland, in its eminent neutrality, has never been the most prolific exporter of high quality metal music, but it seems like each decade you can count on some ephemeral wave of darkness to explode out of that country; in the 80s, it was Celtic Frost and Coroner, followed by the great Samael in the 90s, and now...Bölzer? With their Aura EP, the Zurich duo embarks on a refreshing tour of some classic black and death metal influences, but they stand up and own them with a fresh layer of ritualistic atmosphere that seems to reverberate off the walls of the Alps before escaping into the cosmos beyond. To be blunt, I wish I heard a lot more bands taking chances like this one does; too often do you hear the same old, tired 20-25 year-in-the-past US/Swedish death worship which fanatics tend to laud strictly through a sense of apathetic nostalgia. But I promise you: Bölzer evokes a sound both ancient and current.
The rhythm guitars have an enormous but ripping tone to them which can support both the drudging cemetery dirt of the low-end chords and the band's uncanny sense of harmony which pervades the exotic, immediately memorable tremolo picked progressions and grooves of "Entranced by the Wolfshook". A truly absorbing piece, and my favorite among the three on the EP, despite some stiff composition from its neighbors. The vocals range between broad, echoing van Drunen growls and raving lunatic barks and howls, but then the band will also tear into these manly mid-ranged cleans. I know its an unusual blend, but I often felt the music was like a collaboration between Incantation, earlier Samael and Mastodon, especially when those open vocal intonations arrive in the bridge of "Entranced...". Hell, the EP's finale, a nearly 11 minute behemoth called "The Great Unifier", is like a perfect hybrid of atmospheric blackened death-sludge, which effortlessly storms between blasted streams of dissent and sodden breakdown grooves. It's quite good, DAMN good, and eschews the normal sense of unnecessary repetition often associated with fattened track lengths.
Bass guitars don't seem to be a factor in this sound, but the richness of the rhythm guitar carving is so dense and atmospheric, simultaneously ethereal and crushing that the ears will only rarely need to wander from them, and usually to the vocals. The drums of HzR are vital and propulsive, though, and the substantial periods of tribal-based tom smashing lend the album much of its mountainous, Cyclopean flavor, a more esoteric and externalized sense of being than you usually get from Bölzer subterranean peers. It does not suffocate; it exhales. This music does not sound like it's being performed in a cave, but from the hills and heights, challenging the sky to swallow it, and it takes on a beautiful/ominous contrast, a mythic quality that glues the listener to a sizable swath of relistens that he/she might graze on its magnificence. Transcendental, memorable, earth-shaking and night-slaked ideas. Varied enough without losing consistency. Very eager to hear if Bölzer can pull off this level of expression on a full-length; but, for now, Aura is ample fulfillment.