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Bølzer > Lese Majesty > 2019, CD, Lightning & Sons (Digipak) > Reviews
Bølzer - Lese Majesty

Into The Temple Of Spears - 85%

Nattskog7, May 23rd, 2023
Written based on this version: 2019, CD, Lightning & Sons (Digipak)

Swiss extreme metal mob Bölzer are back with a new EP of destructive music.

Glistening in with atmospheric guitars, a dystopian touch underlying within these discordant strings, accentuated by eerie sampling before a cacophony of blastbeats are brought in by a simple vocal howl. A mighty storm of extreme metal is unleashed with a ferociously performed display of mesmerising instrumentals and gruesome vocals in perfect harmony to deliver an onslaught of pure malevolence. When we are introduced to the cleaner vocals they conjure a hauntingly spectral sound into the mix that is as tranquility inducing as it is unnerving and dark.

This release, much in the vein of the bands previous material is a deliverance of blasphemous intensity but also gorgeously atmospheric and melodically flourishing musicianship that truly is impeccable. With a touch of dissonance here, gloriously traditional heavy metal elements there and a barrage of total obliteration, this release is well balanced and exciting with not even a second of wasted time or sub-par music. The second track offering some interesting ambience and harrowing narration that really ties the other tracks together beautifully. Blistering on through realms of depravity and destruction, this EP gives no respite and truly decimates any weakened folk that may stand in the way of this innovative offering in extreme arts most charismatically.

Pure visceral aggression and stellar songwriting that is macabre, hectic and forceful from start to end. An absolute music for anyone who enjoys the more estranged side of blackened death metal while still needing a firm punch of classic steel.

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Sand-blasted lungs gasping for truth. - 100%

GrizzlyButts, January 26th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2019, 12" vinyl, Lightning & Sons (Limited edition, 2 colors)

Radiant and ablaze in the atmosphere they’d create entirely themselves, the unsoiled magnetism of each successive release from Zürich, Switzerland based black/death metal duo Bölzer began as an unpredictable constant, a bizarrely regal spray of extreme metal psychedelia that’d morph’d beyond expectations between 2012 (‘Roman Acupuncture‘, Demo) and 2016 (‘Hero‘, LP). That evolution was shocking to some at its peak in the sense that the clean vocals from guitarist/vocalist KzR (ex-Deathcult) incorporated moderate progressive sludge metal tonality into a distinctly atmospheric blackened death metal sound. Hitting that point of definition (or, frame of reference) was entirely righteous as it broadened the unique voice of Bölzer, particularly as songwriters, in a major way. Their latest release, ‘Lese Majesty‘, is a point of long-awaited celebration for those who’d loved ‘Hero’ even more in ever-warming hindsight and who’d salivate again here at the coming end of the drought between records. The long touring cycle after their first full-length finds the duo achieving an ebullient balance within their discography’s range, better knowing themselves while reaching for new stratospheric ideals.

Aetiologic examination of Bölzer‘s discography reveals a series of breakthroughs in order of atmosphere, depth/intricacy, percussive arrangement, and melodic voice and I’d suggest ‘Lese Majesty’ is the refinement of those combined pieces while additionally striding great advances in presence. When I say presence I’d partially refer to the general clarity of voice provided by Thomas Taube who recorded, mixed and mastered the EP with an ear for modern black metal capture that echoes into the distance with the major voice of each song still enormously resonant. Beyond that, the performances are uniquely present, further modulating their own unique range between black, death, and sludge metal tonality while jolting leagues beyond the prideful buzz-forth of ‘Hero’. KzH brings a deeper emotive range to each of these four performances, reaching a point of spiritual conveyance within extended progressive tirades of weighty, playfully evocative riffs that crash and rain atop animalistic atmospheric black/death metal advances. The experience is satisfyingly fractal in movement and crystalline in vision, a wash of atmosphere and downward plunging avant-blackened beast in motion.

As dead behind the eyes as I might be, the Pyriphlegethon within does ignite at least a dozen times per year in response to extraordinary extreme metal yet, I’d meet ‘Lese Majesty’ on uncertain terms. Bölzer had shook the death metal faith a bit on ‘Hero’ and though I’m a fan of every genre permutation in between, I’d missed some of their intuitive grasp of death metal; Their death metal vocals had always been exceptional. The songwriters who’d come up with “Entranced by the Wolfshook” were still recognizable all the same, just in less barbaric form. In that sense this EP is a step in every direction beyond each point of stylistic depth Bölzer brought in the past, still a spiritual contemporary to the what bands like Necros Christos, The Ruins of Beverast and Ascension have touched upon in the last decade. The best analogue for this development is echoed beautifully in the history of Australian morphōsis Alchemist, who’d reach a similar point of accumulation before repeatedly evolving outwards; A similar level of meaningful detail further defines Bölzer.

Flabbergasted to the point of delirium and leaning forward from the impact, I’d been nowhere near as cratered by a set of songs this year than I was the beyond the first listen of ‘Lese Majesty’. So rarely does an extreme metal band come full range beyond the norm whilst making compelling music of it, Bölzer had come close before but this is a grandiose step beyond the gates. “A Shepherd in Wolven Skin” is a rallying cry of honor above corruption, an enormous fanfare that’d arrive upon an infectious level of tension-and-release on a minute by minute basis tearing into the depths ‘Hero’ had promised, hammering down with rubberized black/death metal heaviness in great waves. Whistling in place of a riff change is genius that few would afford themselves outside of an early 2000’s folk metal band but Bölzer manage to punctuate the song in a major way with this moment; There is an organic and spontaneous feeling that accumulates within the array of experimental oft-melodic adornments throughout ‘Lese Majesty’, which range from simple melodic whistling, syncopated breathing, meditative humming, and cranked harmonic feedback. The addiction is secured with the hits of “Into the Temple of Spears” and “Ave Fluvius! Danu Be Praised”, two songs that represent the very height of Bölzer thus far, above and beyond the impact of past rituals; These songs are more-or-less analogues for “Entranced by the Wolfshook” and “Labyrinthian Graves” respectively, if vaguely considering their structure. Mastery of such complex melodic device in concert with intensely barbaric percussion is a feat typically reserved for spaces far from the dark and hidden lands of their occult black and death metal spiritus.– The fact that Bölzer deliver this with such Romanesque, stoic currency is mind-blowing.

The impetus of this work intends to strike a chord of independence, not only to encourage independent thought but to leave a gleaming statuesque mark one step across the line as they reach one of Bölzer earliest stated goals (within interviews) of Sovereignty; This would still carry a great deal of meaning if their music were unoriginal but my admiration stems from each of their releases consistently representing growth, betterment, and an accumulating decade of good will earned through hard work, all focused upon the righteous and lofty goal of self-sufficiency as artists. Divorced from all meaning, the powerfully vibrant sun-soaked strides of ‘Lese Majesty’ still convey these most primitive hopes, these rights of men to live under no thumb. Independence, riffs, black/death metal, and even a bit of prog-sludge add up to one of the best modern extreme metal bands of this last decade and as with all past releases I am a hopeless addict of these expertly crafted bouts of intuition and flow-driven inspiration found within ‘Lese Majesty’. It is among the absolute best music released in 2019 and as such I am more than confident in giving the highest possible recommendation of Bölzer‘s latest EP. For preview purposes they’ve fittingly provided the opener “A Shepherd in Wolven Skin” and I’d additionally recommend “Ave Fluvius! Danú Be Praised!” to those who might’ve been scared away by the eased death metallic transmogrification of their full-length.


For the Old Gods! - 89%

Mad Madame, January 15th, 2020

2019 was a good year for metal it seems. As well as a strong set of releases from some well-known acts, we assisted to some great live shows, and many other bands were ready to take music seriously. “Lese Majesty” was one such ambitious work, and serves as a reminder of the power of creating music, as opposed to shoving disparate styles together and calling it innovation. The legendary Bölzer return with this brand new EP, “Lese Majesty”, composed by four epic tracks of occult grandeur, constructed as homage to the ancient world.

Bölzer were formed 2008 in Zürich, as a magickal duo project of KzR and HzR. The band released one full-length, two EP’s and one Demo and they continuously evolve into a full band of menacing uniqueness. The common human trait of seeking divinity, whether a conscious effort or subconscious manifestation, is something that still holds true in these times of idolatry and confusion. Bölzer gives this trait majesty and grandeur with this EP.

“A Shepherd in Wolven Skin” was the first song that I’ve listened to. In this song, the technique to stretch out these simple yet well-crafted riffs brings this tasteful layering of other influences atop. Of course, simplicity is key to maintaining the impact of these elements throughout the EP. “Æstivation” brings us to the core-concept to this EP. It may be basic, and short, built on a simple journey with tension and release worked throughout the middle, but sometimes the plainest of canvasses can give rise to the most powerful of artistic statements. One can hear elements of the past records, pagan influences, and even some prog leanings as well. Bölzer is a typical example of a band that manages to stand out in this whole new wave of black metal. Bölzer operates through a formula that has been proven quite effective and is actually what every worthy underground metal band does. One of the most fascinating aspects of this EP might be that it seemingly came out of nowhere. Bölzer’s previous album was good, with classical displays of blackened orthodoxy, but in no way did they foreshadow the leap in both style and substance the band has displayed on this EP. I’m not sure anything could have prepared me for this experiment and space-stretching fantasy that this EP so effortlessly embodies; the “trance” effect created by the drum pace attacks is quite unique on this recording. What Bölzer accomplish over the course of these four tracks could be the sum of the past releases.

“Lese majesty” sums up esoteric themes, dense production and vile riffs. The results are nothing but stunning. Wise lyrics and musical structure give this EP a sound that is absolutely impenetrable. The riffs are thick and heavy, pressing the listener like humid air. Although the intense atmosphere is bearable because of the groovy riffs, the drumming gives heaviness to the melodies. Like trying to escape a maze but always ending up right back where you started, “Lese Majesty” balances innovative composition with addictive melodies. All four songs on this EP manages to be intricate and devastating at the same time. While the arrangements may seem straightforward at first, they’re not. It is impossible to catch every layer of the song within the first few listens, not a chance. Beneath the seemingly chaotic, patterns of guitar and drums, there is a number of details going on. Here comes the innovation of this band: not so traditional riffs, a dynamic rhythm and a material packed with ideas.

Some of the best bands of this time are getting buried in the underground. I guess that’s the downside of being ahead of the time, nobody notices you until the game is over or you don’t what to play it anymore. Either way, Bölzer is a mandatory name on the list for anyone who likes weird extreme metal in general, and “Lese Majesty” is a great starting point for that journey.

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A Blazing Thunder that slightly misses its mark - 78%

TheSlayFer, December 1st, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, Digital, Lightning & Sons

Switzerland’s pagan black and death metal duo Bölzer were one of the most fascinating surprises in the world of extreme metal, and also one of the most astounding as they were able to catch metalhead’s worldwide attention with just a couple of EP’s with no more than 2 to 3 songs, as well as impressing with their unique style of extreme metal wherein the Swiss duo managed to create a relentless and oddly melodious brand of blackened death metal with nothing but a ten string guitar, dry and echoing death growls and drums. However then came their divisive and controversial debut album “Hero” where the band in an attempt to continue expanding their music in tandem with their lyrical topics and concepts, mixed their brand of blackened death metal with sludge metal akin to bands like Mastodon and Baroness which rubbed many metalheads and enthusiasts of the band’s early music the wrong way, which lead to the band to only release a single song for a split and focus primarily on touring, until now.

The first thing to note of “Lese Majesty” is how it’s both a throwback to Bölzer’s earlier sound, while also keeping certain elements from their much maligned debut album, particularly in the guitar work of Okoi Thierry Jones aka “KzR”, his playing style is very reminiscent of “Hero”, the riffs and hooks are as complex as in Aura and Soma but there’s a very clear focus on creating a melodic and dynamic sound while also emphasizing a ritual like repetition in each song where they introduce a main riff and keep the pace and flow, the band also makes a bold experimentation with ambient music in a way they never did before, the quite large length of the songs are to create a mystic atmosphere that lulls the listener to a sense of comfort before subjecting them to a psychedelic avalanche of powerful soundscapes.

Jones takes full advantage of the 10 strings in his guitar and expertly showcases deft speed and complexity, despite going back to the raw intensity of his early material, Jones’ musicianship is much more mature and polished. The same can be said about his about his unique vocals, Jones’ distinct brand of dry growls where much lauded and despite the grumblings of various metalheads, his clean vocals where also impressive to hear, those oddly ululating and shaman-like chants that he prominently displayed in “Hero” serve as the backing vocals to emphasize the chorus and bridge sections, the opening track, “A Shepherd in Wolven Skin” perfectly encapsulates Jones’ seamless transition between his chilling growls and echoing baritone singing, and even displays whistling in key moments.

And no talk of Bölzer would be complete without singing the praises of drummer Fabian Wyrsch aka HzR, who is easily one of the most talented drummers in metal music right now, similar to Jones’ evident growth as a musician and performer, Wyrsch has perfected his drumming by expanding beyond the blast beats, adding a jazz like layer of complexity to the quality of his drumming, while also maintaining the primitiveness of black and death metal. And of course, both Jones and Wyrsch work in flawless harmony with each other, with outstanding uniformity, one of the biggest problems in extreme metal is how certain instruments and performances get lost or are overpowered by the rest of the performances, but Bölzer are the unique exception, as without either member of this duo, the music would not work as good as it does, and the production of the EP perfectly showcases both Jones and Wyrsch individual talents and unity.

However, for all the good things the band accomplished on this new EP, they also fell into the hole that all extreme metal bands have fallen to, which is the retreading of already explored paths. Like I mentioned before, with this EP the band attempted to consolidate their debut album's sound with the sound of their first EPs, and while there’s certainly a lot to praise, particularly Jones’ and Wyrsch’s musicianship and performances, the overall feel is of yet another Bölzer release, as we have heard both the band’s earlier aggression and intensity, as well as their musical experimentation, with the only really new aspect of the music being the experimentation with much more overtly atmospheric soundscapes, like in the interlude “Æstivation” and the closing section of the fourth and final track “Ave Fluvius! Danu Be Praised!”, but the band manages to successfully counter the treading of familiar ground with their outstanding performances and more nuanced approach to songwriting. The other flaw to note is the nature of this release, it being a mini album of only four songs, while Bölzer where praised for making very compelling music with just a couple of songs, in here there seems that the band opted for a smaller approach to release new music as a way to test the waters, since this is their first major release in over 3 years, there’s nothing wrong with that but for as long as the 3 main songs are, you end up wanting more and the album flies by too quickly and ends too abruptly just as you settle into its groove.

All in all, Bölzer have proven that they can still make compellingly aggressive and provocative music but at the end of the day, this EP is a clear teaser of things to come for the band and for a band as well-known as Bölzer, who have proven to being able to do much more, it falls a bit short but nevertheless it’s a promise of things to come, and the hope that for their next album they’ll finally nail the sound they want to create.

Best songs: A Shepherd in Wolven Skin, Ave Fluvius! Danú Be Praised!

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