Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bölzer- Aura(2013)

Bölzer- Aura


If you find yourself at a loss for words after spinning Aura, the devastating and fresh EP from Switzerland's resident warlocks Bölzer, you are certainly not alone.  Aura is an album with a sound and sense of style no other has been able to obtain, and stands as one of Death Metal's most unique and mystifying records.  It's heaviness is matched only by the controlled but adventurous creativity, and both are completely dwarfed by the sheer sonic mass of it's riffs; all a galactic force of sheer density and dynamic melody  The second "Entranced by the Wolfshook" begins to soar from your speakers like a comet streaking across a blood red and black sky, leaving in it's wake ominous omens of apocalypse, you'll fully understand what you are listening to hasn't been attempted before.  It's exciting, and even more so worth experiencing first hand.

Bölzer has built the very essence of Aura around brilliant guitar work and flawless song-writing.  I've already described the riffs as monolithic, and to be honest there are a dozen other adjectives I could throw at them: titanic, haunting, oddly beautiful, captivating.  It goes without saying that Aura is the great guitar driven album of the year, and it a swirling mass of Blackened Death Metal which has no real analog in the rest of the scene.  Aura is at it's heart a very old-school sounding album.  Possessing little in the way of blast beats and no ambient keyboard or electronic noises, Aura feels like an album from the early years of Death Metal with it's supreme emphasis on riffs, riffs, and more riffs.  Yet Aura also feels alien; it's creativity borders on dangerous and challenging to the established song-writing in the scene.  Imagine Incantation and Asphyx had launched Onward to Golgotha and Last One on Earth into space, where it was discovered by an alien intelligence possessing the technology to use sound as a way to rip planets into pieces for some demented astrological property management.  Imagine that they wrote their own Death Metal album after absorbing these albums for a decade and added their own utterly inhuman flavor to it, then sent the sheet music to Switzerland in a pod which I imagine both HzR and KzR discovered. Aura seems like their near perfect attempt to translate this inconceivable creation with pathetic human instruments.

I like the space theme here, because Aura has the sort of expansive and riff driven sound which brings to mind early Post-Sludge masters Neurosis and Isis and the thundering and classic domination of Celtic Frost.  There are so many potential influences here, and they are all melted down and folded together to form a steel that cannot be broken; it will slice through your flesh with the ease of the metaphorical knife into the metaphorical flesh-butter.  This is all aided by the perfect tendons which hold the musculature of the album together: the drumming is effective and unobtrusive, and it bears mentioning again how nice it is not being assaulted by endless blast-beats.  The production is expansive, spacey and raw, yet even and incredibly full throated; Aura sounds fucking great, especially on vinyl(this is the kind of record made with wax in mind.)  And the vocals are second only to the riffs in pure power and effectiveness; KzR mixes a solid guttural growl with a strong mid-register scream, but he really shines with his moaning, tortured clean yells.  When KzR starts torturing his throat over this tsunami-sized riffs, it really drives home the Neurosis influence on Aura, though Blackend Death Metal remains the core of the albums sound.  This is an album which can bring together the trve and the false together for some fascinating pillow talk.

Whether listening to the gorgeous "Entranced by the Wolfshook," with its addicting and hook laden riffs full to bursting with dissonance and melody, or being crushed under the massive weight and repetition of "The Great Unifier," an unholy nightmare mash of Deathspell Omega, Incantation and Neurosis, you can feel the weight and power of each track work their way to your very core.  It leads to an incredible gushing of pure Metal-fucking-joy; Aura got me excited about fucking Metal like I was 13 years old again and just discovering heavier music for the first time.  I imagine Aura has that effect on many listeners, including putting fucking in front of Metal every time you say it, write it or think it.  Considering the cynacism of elder-status as a Metal fan, Aura accomplished something that not a whole lot of albums accomplish.  Perfection?  No.  Fucking Metal?  Verily.  Experience it.  I'll see you in the void.

Rating: 9.5/10

Friday, September 13, 2013

Ogdru Jahad- I

Ogdru Jahad- I

A savage and bestial grind from beginning to end, Ogdru Jahad's I is an album which fits comfortably into the mechanically putrid rot and filth of the scene, going through the ritualistic motions for a solid, uninspiring 30 minutes.  Complete with blasphemous artwork and Lovecraftian references, I is an album as predictable as it ugly, minus of course the brilliant cover art, though this is another staple of the scene that shouldn't be surprising, or the limited edition clear vinyl the album comes on(only 200 copies of course).

That's the thing about I that I find far more fascinating; its an album that feels like it was created in some sort of Ross Bay Cult-styled atomic generator which is pushing out filth encrusted, bullet-belted abominations in droves.  I itself couldn't be a more basic album; it sounds like Blasphemy, Conqueror and Archgoat, with hints of Thrash and First Wave Black Metal mixed in for extra credibility.  It features no unique traits to speak of, other than perhaps a  pair of songs which sound like they feature the same exact riff played only slightly differently in "Unholy Blessings" and "Empty Jehovah."  There are some killer tracks to be sure, with the groovy and barbaric "Weeping of Angels" and the utterly uncompromising and blistering "Necromantic Rites" standing out a solid highlights.  "Necromantic Rites" in particular features a hint of dissonance and mildly complex song structure, though it's fleeting and the grind will overwhelm all originality before the end.

What's more fascinating about I is how neatly in fits into the current Bestial Black/Death scene; another "super group" release featuring members of a dozen other bands including the mighty Lucitation and Sadomator.  It features glorious cover art courtesy of Alexander L Brown, whose done the artwork for dozens of other similar albums.  It's released on one of the premiere labels for such albums in Iron Bonehead Productions, and comes in both black and limited edition clear vinyl(it's since been released on CD as well).  You can check the boxes both sonically and culturally with I and neatly place in on the bookshelf in between your Gods of War re-press and your H.P. Lovecraft biography, never to be listened to after a few initial spins again and more than likely to end up on for triple what was paid for it new 5 years from now.

In an of itself, Odgru Jahad's I is an inoffensive album which has some limited visceral intensity, but it's an album so comfortable and safe that it feels stale and bland right out of the gate.  From the very second the opening sample fades out and the opening riff slices through the air, the next 30 minutes is laid out directly in front of you, the bloody puzzle pieces stitched together smoothly.  No bumps, no pauses and no mercy.  And no fun.

Rating: 5.5/10