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Bolzer- Aura - 85%

stenchofishtar, October 28th, 2013

A relative newcomer to the death/black underground, Swiss duo Bolzer most certainly take some of their lineage from the original oddball aesthetes of 80′s metal, their fellow countrymen Celtic Frost and the French-Canadian quartet Voivod. For the unknowing, their moniker lifts itself from a colloquial German term along the lines of ‘a bolt’.

They already have a self-released demo, ‘Roman Acupuncture’ behind them, and now ‘Aura’ sees its release through the German label Iron Bonehead Productions. Bolzer take on a less raw production, sounding more muscular and compact, yet with a nice, spacious ambience. This ‘astral’ sound solicits a comparison to the much overlooked American act Vulpecula headed by Chuck Keller (Ares Kingdom, Order From Chaos), though Bolzer’s quite atypical, progressive use of riff structures sets them apart.

Like Inquisition, they apply dark, meticulous energy into the two piece environment, and less becomes truly more. They are tonally different, though, and the guitars are thick, rumbling and corrosive. The rhythm guitar is worked and emphasised in a similar way to how Necromantia used 8-string bass to envelope the instrumental range.

The playing style of the guitarist is highly adept and imaginative. It’s easy to discern core influences from the likes of Asphyx or Incantation, and the ‘oddball’ approach isn't too far away from the likes of modern peers Antediluvian or Mitochondrion. The rich, polyphonic, angular and expressive range reminds vaguely of Black Sabbath or Neurosis colliding with the ‘alien’ motifs of Demilich.

It makes for a bizarrely hypnotic, sometimes even uplifting listening experience, evidencing itself in the opening riff to ‘Entranced By The Wolfshook’. Along with the opening song ‘C.M.E.’ this works itself to a sharp, cataclysmic effect. The closing song, the lengthy ‘The Great Unifier’ sees this use of technique applied to a more repetitive and linear backdrop.

The drumming is very organic, well mixed and intensely kinetic, not unlike that of Chris Reifert or Fenriz but following a ritualistic, shamanistic formula. The vocals contain plenty of echo, ranging from deep, guttural mantras to more highly pitched shrieks.

This EP is an absolute gem, not staying around too long yet within it’s 23 minutes, is nothing short of epic in its expressiveness and conviction.