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mass ejaculation - 93%

RapeTheDead, June 17th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, Necroshrine Records

I'm always searching for something genuinely original in metal. There's a lot of people out there who seem to think that metal has explored all the possible venues it can and that it can't go any further, but there are people who have made that claim at all points in history. There's always strange new paths that can be taken and entirely new genres that can be formed through careful tinkering and blending of genres that have already been established; that's how new music is made, after all. There are always certain riff patterns and melodic textures that haven't been thoroughly combined and explored even though they're ever-present in music of prior bands. There's a lot of hype over Bolzer, and they've only shared a few songs with us so far at the time of this writing, with a new EP looming on the horizon that, from what I can tell, is exploring "side B" of the duality contained within Bolzer's music. I guess I'm to assume that this is side A? The light to Soma's darkness? It would seem that is the case, because Aura contains within it an eerie sense of melody that almost seems to glow in the hollow chasm that is the music surrounding it. This magic little touch (along with a few other quirks here and there) that makes Aura a big ol' breath of fresh air in metal.

But where is this mysterious melody coming from? There's a seamless blend of thicker, punkier black metal and spastic but still punishing Nuclear-War-Now-esque death metal, and those two styles alone could fairly adequately cover the full range of bands Bolzer draws influence from, but so many other characteristics rise seemingly out of nowhere. The putrid guitar tone combined with the ethereal atmosphere almost gives off a Neurosis or Ufomammut sort of atmospheric vibe, but it seems to arise out of the combination of the elements at play as opposed to any individual factor per se. Aura reminds you of the thickest guitar tones you've ever heard, but the music is not designed with that as the focal point. There's much more memorability gained by the way Bolzer manipulates and combines this heavy base with everything else going on to make things much more memorable.

So what do the riffs actually sound like then? Well, their black metal side can somewhat be reminiscent of Inquisition at times because of the way the riffs seamlessly bend in the higher-note melodies and also in how they warp effortlessly into the chasmatic death metal--although Inquisition warped into riffs thrashier than the grimy death metal present on Aura. Instead, Bolzer's lower-end riffs remind me of something like Revenge if you removed all the grind influence and gave them a full body and clean, thick production. Neither of these dual aspects of the riffing ever dominates over the other in the soundscape, and an entirely new riff style emerges in the process. It's heavy, it's catchy, it's sludgy and will stay in your head but not because it's saccharine or anything; there's still tension, and most importantly, these riffs still sound like fucking RIFFS. They don't try and reinvent everyone's idea of what a riff can be. They write some good ones, work them into points in the song where they stick out, they repeat them and they contrast them with the more inaccessible aspects of the music to give it a very distinct atmosphere. It's not that hard and you can still make the music sound original in the process!

Having two members in your band seems to be the winning formula. It's easy to make the Inquisition comparison for that reason; one guy's playing the drums and giving the music the skeleton, the other colors it in with some solid riffs and vocals and it ends up sounding incredibly new because of how pure the ideas are the same way Inquisition does. A low, throaty growl fills up most of the band's vocal space, but most notably in both "C.M.E." and "The Great Unifier", a wailing yell storms its way into the music every now and then. This kind of thing usually isn't heard outside of certain forms of hardcore, but the way the yells are used as a punctuation mark brings a whole new textural feature into the music. This album is full of moments that don't really seem all that unique upon first listen, but after a few times you hear the way it's put together you find yourself angry as to why the fuck somebody didn't think of doing this before 2013. You owe it to yourself to listen to this EP - there's virtually nothing wrong with the tracks at hand here (I mean, "The Great Unifier" has its moments where it drags but that's more a personal preference than anything) and I'm almost certain a lot of the future trends in extreme metal will draw a huge amount from Aura. It signals a new direction and a fresh batch of ideas for the genre and there's only three songs so you can listen to it over and over and over and over and over again...