This year produced a great deal of excellent EP releases, but the Swiss duo Bölzer’s mini-LP Aura managed not only to be the best of the bunch, but also beat out most full-lengths with three tracks and 23 minutes of some truly next-level occult black/death metal. The record features perhaps one of the best riffs of 2013 in “Entranced by the Wolfshook,” which marries a Blut Aus Nord-ian guitar tone with pseudo-Wagnerian orchestral synths and an absolutely bangin’ main riff that you can’t help but meet with a shit-eating grin and grimace. Seriously – it’s the kind of metal-as-all-hell lick that an appreciation of which should serve as a litmus test to expose the false amongst our ranks.
The remaining two tracks that sandwich “…Wolfshook,” while lacking in that killer riff, still succeed in other important areas of occult arcana. Opening track “Coronal Mass Ejaculation” rips the sky wide open with crawling open chords before unleashing a firestorm of world-ending B-standard bombast. Final track “The Great Unifier,” while not quite reaching the evocative heights of the two previous tracks, tears things up more than adequately with pitch-black mid-tempo grooves and apocalyptic, slow-motion doom riffs. Modern metal bands often jettison songwriting in favor of pure meandering atmosphere, but Bölzer meet the two at halfway with a nice balance of mood and songwriting muscle.
Being woefully unversed in esoteric Celtic/Norse/Germanic (?) symbology, I can’t offer much in the way of a deep lyrical examination. But, they’re articulate and manage to be quite striking and evocative for those who wish to conduct a more thorough examination. Moreover, the band appears to have a refreshing sense of self-awareness about the lyrics, and what they do in general (read: fun). In the end, perhaps Bölzer just want to boogie:
His psalms emanate power
Beset with lightning and thunder
As you slip into trance
You swear allegiance to dance
With those riffs, it’s hard not to! For all their obtuse occultic imagery and lyrics, there is a sense of fun that permeates Aura, without betraying the seriously evocative nature of the music. Moody and atmospheric as it is, Bölzer knows where their priorities lie – Aura is a bitchin’ heavy metal record first and foremost, and a more than promising release that is hopefully a portent of great things to come.