Bölzer- Aura

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Who knew that death metal could still sound this dense without bass? Switzerland’s Bölzer consists of just a guitarist/vocalist and drummer, and they create material that is just as crushing as anything else in the genre. On their newest EP Aura, the duo has written that have some of the old-school death metal crunchiness combined with the sprawling, otherworldly soundscapes that one would expect out of a black metal band like Blut Aus Nord. It’s absolutely incredible, and the type of release that will make your jaw drop as soon as you start listening.

“CME” starts the EP off, and it brings a familiar sound mixed in with some distinguishable elements right off the bat. The initial riff has the type of crunchy, heavy tonality that recalls a number of old-school death metal acts but quickly transitions into a more warlike passage that is reminiscent of the type of all-out assaults that current black/death metal groups have to offer. But throughout the track there are hints of dissonant melodies, as the soundscape presents the same kind of entrancing and gripping atmosphere that is black metal by nature. It’s instantly captivating, and despite the fact that there is no bass on this record the guitar work offers a heavy enough feel that allows Bölzer’s work to still come off as downright crushing at times. “CME” is followed up by “Entranced by the Wolfshook”, which is the song on this EP that I have been listening to the most. Here the duo really lets the atmosphere run wild, as the guitar lead swirls around the track in a way that sucks the listener right in. The final track “The Great Unifier” continues the types of ideas showcased on the previous two, but it manages a feel of its own. Aura stands as an incredible experience not just because of the wall of sound and suffocating atmosphere it can create, but also because the riffs from one track to the next are distinguishable and touch upon something slightly different.

Vocalist KzR utilizes a low pitched growl that has a very full sound, and it’s the type of pitch that blurs in with the band’s wall of sound and seems to get only more intense as the material progresses. While KzR probably could have utilized this style and called it a day, he wastes no time in showcasing the range of pitches he is capable of and adds in higher shrieks and some cleaner yelling. It feels like Bölzer is pulling in every end of the spectrum of death metal vocals throughout Aura, and it’s impressive that this range is pulled off by one person. Despite the denser nature of the material, the vocals are surprisingly well mixed and tower over the instrumentals as if to ensure that you’re always paying attention to where they’re heading next.

I still can’t get over the fact that two guys have been able to create this dense of a record, and even without any bass work this is still an extremely heavy sounding release. Bölzer takes the intensity and crunchier riffs of old-school death metal, adds in some black/death metal blasting, and then layers atmospheric melodic leads over top of it that will warp you to another dimension. It may have some familiar elements, but this group has managed to carve out their own path and create a distinguishable sound.

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