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Bölzer - Aura-inspiring - 100%

ThrashManiacAYD, May 5th, 2014

With there being more albums I wish to check out at any given time than there are days in a year it is rare that I choose to fully investigate an EP, let alone become totally infatuated with one. But then there are few EPs I’ve ever heard that are as sensational as that of Bölzer’s ”Aura”. The Swiss duo which form this cosmic black/death act have just one previous 2012 demo to their name before this EP, which is now a year old, but you would never guess it such is the level of performance. With a name being somewhat along the lines of ‘bulldozer’ or ‘smash’ Bölzer do just that, and then some, as the three tracks in this 23-minute release feature some of the most expertly crafted and devastating riffs I’ve heard in a long time; perfect fodder for someone like I who places strong emphasis on the quality of the riff in an age where very often simple dissonance or sheer brutality are seen to suffice, depending on which side of the black/death divide you look.

As a duo not only on record but also on stage, huge emphasis is placed on the work of guitarist/vocalist KzR. The man is a beast, built like a modern day rugby player and the writer of the type of swirling, eerie, ominous riffs that were once a stock-in-trade for the likes of Morbid Angel back in the early days, which mixed with underground production values resulted (and still does) in unsettling and attention seeking music. Although built upon layered guitar tracks for much of the release there is a majestic quality to the structural composition of the riffs which lavishly fluctuate between treble induced paranoia and bass driven rumble, the changes in which can usually be heard to coincide with a variation in vocal styles also. While the man’s throaty growls are suitably hellish it’s his clean, desperate shrieks and wolfish howls that provide a fantastic means of immersion in their universe in a way I’ve heard few extreme metal vocal performances do so.

Of course when one facet is so good the remainder can be no shrinking violet - the powerfully built drummer HzR pummels away in the background and avoids the pitfalls of incessant double bass blasts, tempering his performance with a range of symbals and punchy snare rhythms that leave far more to the imagination. But really, it is all about those riffs. Where do you want to start? Try perhaps that one found around 7 minutes into “The Great Unifier” which sounds like a Roman legion on the march to victory, or the opening to “Entranced by the Wolfshook” as it circulates above like a swarm of locusts intent on deadly plague. “Coronary Mass Ejaculation” is based around a pair of riffs that harken back to Napalm Death death/grind territories, “Suffer the Children” in particular. Simply put, there is no filler, at all. A friend described them to me as like a death metal Mastodon, which from the consideration of musicianship meets songwriting I can hardly improve on.

With “Aura”, the Bölzer duo have taken the torch of black/death metal and moved it into new territories where a majestic, cosmic scope can be harnessed without the need for keyboards. Few bands have achieved such grandeur; for those that do their name stands tall in the annals of the genre. With more recent material already starting to trickle out in a subtle new direction, it may be that the brilliance of this kind is a one-off. For a release of this length, this is perfection.

Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net