Monday, December 23, 2013

…spanning space and time: Bölzer – ‘Aura’ EP

Frantic, angular riffs are strewn about in a seemingly haphazard fashion amidst moments of pure ethereal beauty on the debut EP from Switzerland’s atmospheric blackened death duo Bölzer. ‘Aura’, one of the year’s finest releases, is an example of an album that can offer catharsis in many forms depending on the listener’s mood. At times ‘Aura’ is completely devastating and destructive—a journey to the dark side of the duo’s collective psyche complete with growls and howls belched forth from the chasms of the netherworld accompanied by a sonic onslaught of heavy riffs and percussion. On the other hand, there are moments of sheer atmospheric bliss—unbridled moments coalesce into sweeping anthems that seem capable of spanning both space and time. Regardless of mood ‘Aura’ remains an intense experience from beginning to end.

The opener, “C.M.E.”, is arguably the most intense track of the EP that whips itself into a Dionysian frenzy—a ritual soundtrack whose subjects feverishly offer their servitude to the gods culminating in communal prostration and self-sacrifice by the masses. The second track, “Entranced by the Wolfshook”, rivals “C.M.E.” in intensity, but surpasses the opener in its otherworldly atmospherics. Brief feedback launches into some of the catchiest, most dynamic moments of the album where sky-streaking guitars are hemmed in by coarse, earth-rending riffs. Closing out the EP is “The Great Unifier”, an epic track that plays with furious outbursts and slower, more downtempo moments. While “The Great Unifier” isn’t as immediate or initially striking as the previous tracks, it makes up for it through a prolonged, mid-tempo concentration of force offset by moments of sparse instrumentation.

Not only is ‘Aura’ one of the best releases of the year, but it is also one of the biggest surprises. The duo of HzR (skin decimation) and KzR (X String Flay, Heresy) have crafted an album that, despite a lineage that can be traced back to both black and death metal, defies easy classification. ‘Aura’ is an addictive album and is certainly the most transcendent album to be released this year. With three tracks and a runtime at 23 minutes, “Aura” is simply over too soon, but the band has a couple releases planned for 2014. Bölzer describes that 'Soma', the follow-up EP, “…is intended to complement its predecessor 'Aura' in theme and appearance. The 'spirit'/'body' concept sets a dualistic platform for a cyclic life/death introspective, revolving around war, waged in both the physical and metaphysical spheres.” The duo also reports that their demo, ‘Roman Acupuncture’, is going to get the 12” vinyl treatment as well.


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