#20: Bolzer - 'Hero'
the hero that we deserve
Back in 2013 Bolzer released an EP that was on a lot of music lists, even NPR's. This attracted me to the band so I listened to that EP, which is called 'Aura'. And long story short, I thought it was pretty damn good. In fact, one of the songs on there is one of the best black metal songs around. Which got me excited when I finally heard that they finally released a full length album.
They lead up to their debut with 3 EPs. While only one of the 3 I thought was a classic, I was still interested to hear the LP. And it did not disappoint. Even though the field is growing towards being crowded, Bolzer still stand out as one of the genre's bands to look out for. 'Hero' was the answer to the expectations and it is a rather focused debut.
While many of the genre up and comers and 3rd wave of black metal bands tend to go for reinventing or adding new elements to black metal, Bolzer seems content to bask in the genre's darkness and theatrics. They do add some things that are not of the usual fare. For one, the vocals are clear and sung more than shouted. The tone of the voice references death rock and even has at times an operatic quality. This is not the fastest and most aggressive extreme metal out there, but it still is quite heavy, if for other reasons.
The music is less athletic and more artful, creating a world for the fan of the band to reside in. Rather than overwhelming the listener with heaviness and energy, Bolzer almost has a third dimension or mysticism to their sound on 'Hero'. It certainly is not the most dark sounding album, but it shows both living warmth and icy cold undead magic. It is also a nice starting point for black metal, as it is not the most inpenetrable or challenging of listens. Also, the production is much cleaner now, making the band sound quite a bit different. The recording lacks the rawness of the past, which allows it to have a more dynamically articulate sonic quality.
It's these more human elements that make this a great release, whatever the band's true intent on creating this strong first full length. As they say, it is all killer and no filler, which is in and of itself a rarity. The fact that Bolzer is able to match their ideas with very concrete playing and concision in songwriting while cutting out any extraneous elements means that they will probably continue to write better and better albums as time goes on.
That said, there is much room for improvement and some of this is a little too predictable at times. The level of intensity in the recording, etc, seems a little bit constrained somehow. Tame in comparison to some of the newest breed of heavy metal doing really astonishly heavy and bizarre things. But that is part of the charm with these guys, they have a classic sound to their onslaught, and a very clear voice for their creativity. What they create is more of a work of art than a document in time.