BölzerHero, Reviewed

After years of anticipation, Bölzer have finally released their first full-length. But is it any good?

Okoi “KzR” Jones is one hell of a guitarist. At once melodically intricate and rhythmically challenging, his command over a 10-string B.C. Rich is one that few, if any, can match. Fabian “HzR” Wyrsch, his counterpart on drums, appears to be preternaturally gifted in the art of laying down uniquely creative drums with a level of skill and panache that evades most drummers. Between the two of them, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more formidable musical duo in all of modern metal. It’s just a shame that KzR can’t fucking sing.

That’s not entirely fair. He can hold a note, mostly, and with great difficulty when he tries his hardest. Unfortunately, those moments are few and far between among the cheesy ham sandwich attempts at creating an emotional atmosphere on these handful of tracks that constitute Hero, the first full-length from this Swiss duo.

For those unfamiliar with Bölzer, you’ve likely been away from underground metal for a few years. Hey! How ya been? Are the folks doing alright? Anyway, there’re these guys called Bölzer, OK? They put out a demo in 2012 called Roman Acupuncture, a title that is a playful euphemism for a crucifixion. It was a pretty wild release that serves as a worthwhile introduction to the band’s trademark blend of death and black metal riffage.

Roman Acupuncture, set the template for 2013’s Aura EP. With clearer production and a handful of totally unfuckwithable riffs, Aura completely blew away underground metal fans and damn near every metal blogger along with, I assume, a few normie casualties along the way as collateral damage. If you’ve somehow never heard “Entranced by the Wolfshook”, you should go ahead and listen now to hear the sound of a young metal band with the world swinging from their nuts.

The two-song Soma EP followed in 2014, holding fast with the platonic ideal of Bölzer; intensely atypical 10-string riffage, smoke stack vocals, and unstoppable drums. It was another notch in the belt of a band that could do no wrong, as they continued destroying the world with big festival appearances.

The complete discography of Bölzer, til this point, consisted of 9 tracks parceled out over 3 releases. “But where is the full-length?” the masses intoned. “When will we get the big, fuck-all Bölzer LP?” Folks, your pleas have been heard, for this Friday you can pick up Hero at a Sam Goody near you.

I own a vinyl copy of Aura despite being aware of their affected speech, affinity for wolfsangel, valknut, and swastika tattoos, and close friendship with well-known assholes Destroyer 666. Despite these hindrances, I came to this album eager for whatever Bölzer was gonna throw my way.

Getting beyond the ominous spaghetti-Western opener “Urdr”, the band launches every ounce of their talent and creativity into “The Archer”, the first proper song on Hero. If the band sought to expand their scope beyond “Entranced by the Woolfshook”, they’ve surely done it with “The Archer”. HzR’s drums thunder with precision and clarity yet unheard in the band’s catalog. Likewise, KzR’s riffs effortlessly cascade across the track, carrying with them an emotional heft that evokes equal parts desperation and hope. KzR has has all but abandoned his steeped growl, and instead adopted a gruff yelp that carries throughout the record. While slightly awkward, it works well enough within the confines of this track, by far the best on the record.

Had the band taken this song and tacked on a lesser track, perhaps “Hero” or “Spiritual Athleticism”, Bölzer would continue their streak of untouchable EPs. Instead, the band soldiered on to complete this long-awaited album. Each time I listen to this record, I’m further disappointed by the bloat and lack of cohesion in most of the compositions on Hero. Sure, each track here has a bright spot. A riff that shines out above the morass. A mighty drum clatter that thrills the listener. A “breakdown” here and there to break up the tedium. But nothing shines like “The Archer”. And often I recoiled listening to KzR’s over-the-top attempts at clean vocals.

If KzR put as much work into practicing his vocals as he surely does practicing the guitar, the results on Hero might be easier to bear. As it is, he sounds like a poor mockery of Baroness‘ John Baizley. Perhaps Bölzer would benefit from attempting the bombastic harmonies that Baizley coaxes from his bandmates? Perhaps that too would be a disaster. One listen to “Atropos”, the album’s closer, is more than enough to last anyone a lifetime. “Chlorophylia” is the album’s nadir. With a main riff that sounds like bargain basement power metal and a vocal hook that I can only describe as an aggressive goblin feeling refreshed as fuck after taking a swig of Diet Coke, the track punishes the listener for over 7 minutes.

Hero is the sound of a band’s reach far extending their grasp. In this sense, the album’s title makes perfect sense. What is a hero but a man that endlessly pushes himself, forever striving for glory beyond his abilities? In another sense, it’s a bitterly ironic moniker for a record that that tries its damnedest but falls woefully short.

2 out of 5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

NEW_TOILETSCALE_2_of_5

Hero is out this Friday on Iron Bonehead.

Written by:

Published on: November 22, 2016

Filled Under: New Stuff, Reviews

Views: 1490

Tags: ,

  • CyberneticOrganism

    “an aggressive goblin feeling refreshed as fuck after taking a swig of Diet Coke”

    https://67.media.tumblr.com/8cb046e6f16e05f8521e15de31927f52/tumblr_mt80mvKYGn1rqfhi2o1_500.gif

    • SupremeKrieg

      Sit your ass down, untrue crowd

      • Dumpster Lung ᴰᵃᵐᵃᵍᵉ_ᴵⁿᶜ⁸⁹

        Agree or disagree, you gotta admit that delivery was A++++++

        • SupremeKrieg

          untrue, fvckin Bolzer slays

          • Dumpster Lung ᴰᵃᵐᵃᵍᵉ_ᴵⁿᶜ⁸⁹

            They do, but that phrase was beautifully rendered nonetheless 😛

  • Great write-up dude! My expectations on this being great are pretty dang low. I’ll give it a shot nonetheless though. Nothing will ever top that demo release though. They really shot their wad with that one.

    • more beer

      Typically a band has their entire lifetime to write their first record. Then a year to follow it up. It gets a little more difficult once that pressure is on the band.

      • I would have been fine with demos and EP’s for the rest of their career.

        • I guess that kinda makes me wonder – is there any reason why a band NEEDS to release an LP? Some folks might just be better suited to shorter run-times.

      • Heliocrat

        I think thats one of the main reasons behind the lack luster response by some to this album.
        Hype is toxic.

    • SupremeKrieg

      Demo is true, but this fvckin album slays

  • Brozer

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Bällzer

      • Señor Jefe El Rosa

        Lölzer

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    Daaaaaamn, no holds review right here! Nice work Mr. Thrashnkill

  • Heliocrat

    Chlorophylia is the best track of the album.

  • Production is absolutely massive on this. I’ll give it that.

    • mother☆shabubu

      Dude it’s a fucking spaceship. Those drums sound fantastic. I couldn’t believe this was only two people.

    • SupremeKrieg

      Fvck yeah it is, slays

  • Well written, Joe!

  • Heliocrat

    One of my favorite records this year. Expectations where high, then low with the release of I am III. Things picked up with Spiritual Athleticism, but it wasn’t until I had heard the songs a few times that things started to make sense.
    For one, I think the vocals are fucking great ( after being disappointed with them).
    The production is massive, the Bolzer-ish themes and aesthetics are still there but they evolved their style into something more epic/ glorious and… positive. I like that. It still has Black/ Death elements but it brings something new to the table in respect to their context.
    My first full listen to the album left me mildly disappointed but with curiosity to keep listening to it and try to understand it and after 2/3 listen’s I fucking love this record.
    Chlorophylia is probably my favorite track of the album.

    It’s a pretty divisive record though. I’ve seen mostly either super positive reviews, or super negative ones.

    And to mention Okoi’s clean vocals again, I think they have lots of character to them. They aren’t classically great singing but personally I’d hate them if they where. Honestly I think they bring a very ancient european/ folk touch to their sound. Urfaust is another great example of that.

    • By nature, this is all subjective. I get what you’re saying. The pieces just don’t fit together for me the way they do for you. I’ve gotta completely disagree on “Chlorophylia” though – that track is just grating to my ears.

    • SupremeKrieg

      Fvck, many hailz warrior!

      • Heliocrat

        Well that hole shtick got boring fast.

  • Elegant Gazing Globe

    Yawn

  • That cover is a real Böner

    • mother☆shabubu

      bölz out

  • SupremeKrieg

    You don’t know shit about music, probably never picked up a fvckin instrument in your life you fvckin pozer. Bolzer are unstoppable

    • Joe just got EXPOSED

    • Howard Dean

      This dude is fuckin’ pissed! BUUUUURRRRRNNNNNNNNN!!

      • SupremeKrieg

        Damn right

    • Infernal hails of darkness majesty warbrother

    • KyleJMcBride

      Bolzer est Krieg!! 88, bitchez!!

      • Major Zim

        Get the fuck up out of here with that neo-nazi dog-whistle shit. If you’re gonna claim that shit at least be a man about it and say it plainly.

        • I don’t think he’s being serious.

          If he is, then I don’t really know what to say besides get out.

        • Heliocrat

          Obviously a joke

        • Señor Jefe El Rosa

          KJM is definitely not a neo-nazi dog-whistling shit. He’s a good dude, just making a joke.

          • Major Zim

            I’d much rather think it’s a joke, but I hope you can understand how on an article talking about a bands questionable behaviors (swastika, wolfsangel, sunwheel tattoos, not disliking KK Warslut lol), posted less than two full days after Neo-nazis held a meeting in a federal building celebrating what they saw as a victory in the presidential election, why I might take this seriously. Especially because there isn’t really anything there that isn’t what someone who actually feels that way would say. I don’t know KJM other than that he asked to be forgiven for something that happened in the past (see the dots I connected?), so how could I honestly discern a mediocre joke from yet another account of a shitbag feeling emboldened to take his opinions public? I love the Toilet and its community, and its worth looking like a fun-hating SJW to take every opportunity to remind nazis that they can fuck right off, especially these days.
            P.S. Bölzer slays and so does the new album. I dig the vocals a lot, they’re the complete antithesis to the generic, forgettable perfectly produced growls that we get from practically every band these days and that character makes them captivating. It’s the original black metal ethos of raw and authentic, and also it reminds me of an out of breath Lemmy sometimes, so that’s cool too.

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            I understand where you’re coming from, my dude. Nazis can indeed fuck off. I’m just sticking up for a friend who was incorrectly labeled as a nazi, I’m sure you can understand that as well. I’d rather not see pals being accused of being associated with hate groups, you know?

        • KyleJMcBride

          The Jew is using The Black as muscle.

    • Elegant Gazing Globe

      at least we know someone listened to yesterday’s podcast

      • SupremeKrieg

        What the fvck are you on about? I don’t listen to fvcken podcast, false

        • Podcasts have to fall in between sermons on tape and television commercial jingles on the list of Falsest Things To Listen To

          • SupremeKrieg

            And fvckin Christmas music

        • Señor Jefe El Rosa

          You should check it out

        • Elegant Gazing Globe

          would you say that Joe’s musical ear is about as accurate as a moose hunter listening to bird calls?

          • SupremeKrieg

            Probably is, fvcken moose shit

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      Hahaha, what?! Joe plays guitar

      • Unfortunately

      • mother☆shabubu

        He plays in the über kvlt Elëctrvc Frvënds

    • MAY THE SWEATY HAIRY BALLS OF BAALLSZEPOOP EMBRACE YOU IN DIVINE OBSCURITY, SUPREMEKRIEG!!!

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    I really like Aura. I’ll see what I can get out of their new album.

  • mother☆shabubu

    HOT TAKE: Aside from hearing”Wolfshook”, this was my first foray into Bölzer, and I really love what I’ve heard so far. Something about the singing sounds primal and possessed, which I really dig. And it has a stellar production too!

  • Howard Dean

    I kept waiting and hoping that they were going to release the “real” cover artwork at some point, because my fuck is that some shitty ass album art.

    • SupremeKrieg

      Fvck, that’s album cover of the year right there

    • Terrible artwork is a prerequisite for cult 80s albums though

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Bolzer wins the “Jeez Guys Nice Effort” award for bad artwork this year

  • Kevin Nash’s Jackknife

    Hot take: who cares about Bolzer? There is so many better bands in that genre.

    • Hot take: who cares about band? there are better bands

    • Howard Dean

      Bought to tear a quad with that hot take, Big Sexy.

    • SupremeKrieg

      FVCK OFF, BOLZER IST KRIEG

      • Kevin Nash’s Jackknife

        I will not fuck off. I’ve been here since the beginning

      • Señor Jefe El Rosa

        Leave JJD alone

    • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

      NO MOSH NO CORE NO FUN NO MUSIC
      ONLY HARSH NOISE WALL IS REAL

      • Sir Crawfish The Based
        • I think your youtube embed is broken. I clicked it and unlistenable garbage came out.

          • Sir Crawfish The Based

            What part of “NO MOSH NO CORE NO FUN NO MUSIC” do you not understand?

    • I would like you to name three

      • Howard Dean

        “In Flames, Budgie, and Vanilla Fudge.” –JJD/KNJ

      • CyberneticOrganism

        1) BRAIN, 2) DRILL, 3) BRAIN DRILL

      • Kevin Nash’s Jackknife

        Wolves in the Throne Room, Liturgy and Deafheaven.

    • Steely Dan, Hootie & The Blowfish, and Dave Matthews Band?

      • Rob M

        I’ll take: Who is headlining Hells Heabash 2017 for 500 Alex

    • Sir Crawfish The Based

      Hot take: who cares about JJD? There are so many better commenters in that blog.

      • Kevin Nash’s Jackknife

        Fuck this. I’m taking my ball and going home.

  • Rob M

    Loved Aura, and thought Soma was pretty damn good, so I had high expectations for this album when it came out. Ended up being really disappointed in it, though Ive heard a lot of people say it takes a while to grow on you

    • SupremeKrieg

      This album fvckin rips, if you don’t like it you’re false

      • Rob M

        Does that mean I have to turn in my copy of Roman Acupuncture?

        • SupremeKrieg

          Send it to me you unworthy false one

          • Rob M

            I feel as though I cant in good conscience send it to you…its apparently now tainted with my falsehood

          • SupremeKrieg

            Bvrn the fvck

          • W.

            Hey friend, I want to help you. Let’s add erroneous, fallacious, and duplicitous to your arsenal of spears to lob at the two-faced followers of Janus who revile trve metal.

          • SupremeKrieg

            Fvckin right, warrior

    • I’m looking forward to hearing it all. Honestly though, it can’t be horrible. If people think that this band is horrible they really need to get their heavy metal wireing re-circuited.

      • Heliocrat

        Tell that to mister SupremeKrieg over there ahah. Dude fucking hates them with a passion.

        • SupremeKrieg

          Hates who? The fvck are you on about?

      • Rob M

        Nah…I wouldnt call it horrible. I just didnt find it as dynamic as their EPs.

        Like I was saying, Ive heard a lot of people who seem to find it bland on first impression, only to talk about how good it is after spinning it a few times, so my impression may change after a bit

        • I hear ya Rob. I’ve heard as well that it takes more than a couple of listens to really grasp it. I bet that shit sounds massive on a good sound system though. Like I said, that production is fucking impressive. Huge step-up from their past work. I just hope the riffs and song writing match the intensity of the production.

          • Fuck, I can’t type worth shit today.

          • Rob M

            Let me know what you think when you finally get your hands on it. I’ll be curious

          • Will do Rob! By the way, I got my copy of the new Bestial Raids album yesterday. Been playing that shit non-stop. Same with that new Antaeus album. Both those albums I say have the best drum performances out of any other album I’ve heard this year. So mean!

          • Rob M

            Bestial Raids is fucking massive…loving that album!

            Ive only spun Antaeus once so far, definitely need to spend a bit more time with it

          • It’s a burner through and through. I’m exhausted after every listen. The last two tracks on side B fucking DESTROY!

          • Rob M

            Think I’ll go put that on right now

          • RJA

            I can’t wait to blast that fucker on the home stereo indeed! Record sounds pretty alright to my ears so far, but falls short of expectations I had built up from the EP’s.

  • AeonsOvChaos

    Good review Joe, I think the
    first consequence of their choice is the exploitation of clean vocals who tends to occupy and manage several key moments in the tracklist. Working
    hard on his vocal interpretation and discovering how important choruses are, KZR took away a bit ‘of that ever-present sense of urgency in
    the old work, replacing it with a contemplative mood that is immediately
    remembered. We
    are listening to an LP less frenetic I think, more focused on being
    intense emotionally than scratchy even if the guitar riffs continue to
    appear very ingenious, and the very insightful drum patterns. Bolzer
    were able to pack about three quarters to give us aclear idea of what their sound seems and the use of the melody in “Hero” has a solid and smart approach. The songwriting keeps to
    be deep and original. Probably the full maturity will be reached with their next album and in the end is solid but not astounding as their previous works.

  • AeonsOvChaos

    D beats are good, new track by Insulters, filthy and merciless Black/Thrash onslaught here, check their unpleasant cover art too:https://unholyprophecies.bandcamp.com/album/metal-still-means-danger-cd-giant-digipak https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d91ee2606a5dbd327f55789374fe770b93b0735398b3d238f0e903be667d52db.jpg

    • Wow. Fucking rules so far.

    • Rob M

      Oh yeah…very nice!

    • Stanley

      This’ll do.

  • Jom Pootersan

    It’s the vocals I can’t get past. With music I find boring or plodding I often change my mind after several listens, but unsettling (in a bad way) vox are not something that usually changes given time.

  • Good writing, xXJOEXx!

  • That’s a fantastic assessment, Joe. Write moar reviews plox.
    (Snakedick, huehue)

  • Waynecro

    Excellent honest review, Joe. I dig a lot of the riffs, but that clean singing bums me out.

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    I just realized the alteration to the cover, genius

    • SupremeKrieg

      Fvckin untrue fvcks right here. Only pozers stoop to that level what the fvck

  • Dumpster Lung ᴰᵃᵐᵃᵍᵉ_ᴵⁿᶜ⁸⁹

    Finally listening to this thing all the way through. I did feel kinda weird about the clean vocals on the very first track, but after that I really haven’t had a problem with them. Not sure if they were executed better afterward or if I simply got used to them, but I’m digging the riffs and overall atmosphere enough that it honestly doesn’t matter.

  • Patrick L. Bertlein

    So…would you say this band is overrated?

    I’ve yet to hear the whole thing, but the Baroness comparison worries me, that band is uhm,not as good as people seem to think they are in my opinion especially as they just sound like a radio rock band with sludge riffs and could tour with the new Alice in Chains and people would dig it….

  • Patrick L. Bertlein

    Also. JESUSFUCKINGCHRISTSHUTUPABOUTTHESWASTIKATATTOOS!!

    Dude has explained this shit a hundred times, I’m pretty sure his dads actually black. The sunwheel is just a symbol, old as dirt, and it sure as fuck is not going anywhere as long as humans are around.