lunedì 6 febbraio 2017

Bölzer - "Hero" (Iron Bonehead Productions, 2016)

Band: Bölzer
Title: Hero
Genre: Black/Death metal
Year: 25th November 2016
Time: 46 min
Rating: 93/100

You can read my review (in Italian) about the EP "Soma" through the following link:

There were big expectations for the debut album of Bölzer. In fact, this no bass Swiss duo founded in 2008 has succeeded to attract the attention of a lot of metalheads due to their very original sound developed thorugh one only demo and two EPs released between 2012 and 2014, without forgetting their very intense live activity able to bring them to the today underground pantheon. But now that all we were habituated to a specific sound of Bölzer, they have bravely evolved it so to be more original and interesting than before, also if wrongfooting some people, starting with the loopy cover artwork of the debut album of the band. So, here you are "Hero", for which Bölzer have also changed their label because, if before they were under the Irish Invictus Productions, now they belong to the roster of the very respected German label Iron Bonehead Productions.

Let's start with the innovations into the sound of Bölzer! Firstly, their sound is surely more melodic compared with the past productions. But, as the Bölzer-style wants, their melodies aren't easy captured because these ones are strange and sophisticated also if without losing in wickedness. This new melodic approach, yet listenable through the first real song ("The Archer") of the album, has given to a systematic use of the clean vocals by KzR with the result to balance them perfectly with his now classic raucous old-school growls. For the truth, Bölzer sketched the clean vocals into their last EP "Soma" but now these experimental sketches are a (well-succeeded) rule able to bring a new feeling into the songs of the band and also showing an excellent variety of clean vocals, also if some of them are a bit too much risked (as in the chorus of the same "The Archer").

In addition to all this, the rhythmic approach guided by the drummer HzR is now more cerebral and slower but, obviously, there are also moments of pure violence, as shown, for example, by the initial attack of the strangely titled "Spiritual Athleticism". Anyway, this slower approach has given to a more atmospheric sound able to create more emotive climaxes, so presenting an incredible richness of different dynamics also due to very long songs since these last ones lasts from 6 to 9 minutes of lenght.
The general result of all this is a very sui generis and innovative black/death metal with a tremendously mystical and ascetic aura, as greatly revealed, for example, by the very short and curiously cantabile intermezzo "Decima". But every song has its own feeling. To name a few, the same titletrack is heroic but, at the same time, fatalist and desperate; the following "Phosphor" is unstoppable and merciless, especially during its first instrumental 3 minutes before a ritualistic and quasi-hindù outro able to calm down the mind; and, to the contrary, the very long "I AM III" has a colossal heaviness due to its severe and absorbing intrigues which are very close to Temple Nightside, so to end the song into a frightful and pachydermatous finale. And, after 45 minutes of rare emotions and pure madness, "Hero" is ended by the cantabile outro "Atropos", that has only 4 verses taken directly from the last moments of the previous song "Clorophyllia" (in which there are also strange howling vocals by KzR).

So, all this and much more is "Hero", an album that needs of many listenings (also through the headphones so you can't lose some sophistications) not only to be understood into its entirety but also because it is full of (hidden) details, included the guest vocals of The Sturla of the Icelandic black metal band Svartidauđi into "Phosphor". But "Hero" is so padded of details to has a very massive and monumental sound, so the absence of the bass is absolutely irrelevant. In practice, the one and only criticism about the album that I can do regard some risked clean vocals, as I said before. So, "Hero" is surely one of the extreme metal masterpieces of 2016 but, for me, it isn't a simple album because it looks to be a spiritual journey towards the ascesis. And if this is "only" the debut album of Bölzer after many years into the ranks, I can't imagine how their second album will be!


1 - Urᵭr
2 - The Archer
3 - Hero
4 - Phosphor
5 - Decima
6 - I AM III
7 - Spiritual Athleticism
8 - Clorophyllia
9 - Atropos


KzR - vocals/guitars
HzR - drums

Iron Bonehead Productions:

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