BÖLZER – Lese Majesty

BÖLZER – Lese Majesty

When it comes to hype, Bölzer took first prize with their 2013 debut EP, "Aura", a collection of music that deserved all the hoopla. Their distinct mixture of black and death metal, infused with sludge and their own brand of atmosphere, was a breath of fresh air at a time when we needed musical oxygen the most. On top of that, the novelty of it being a two-man group (HzR on drums and KzR on guitars and vocals), devoid of bass, and with a unique outlook and style, caused much consternation and heated discussion amongst the more conservative and dogmatic fans. Basically, they were a new band with new ideas, something that always stirs the ol’ metal pot.

Both their follow-up EP and debut full-length album moved further into the chaotic ocean that they had created, separating the wheat from the chaff in the punter department, and pushing the progressive edge further and further out to sea. The sludge aspect grew exponentially, and clean vocals became more prominent, but their brutal roots remained to create an idiosyncratic sound and image. And just to push the hype factor to 11, controversy reared its ugly head over some of KzR’s tattoos that pushed some people to brand him (and the band) as supporting fascism, something that he denied reasonably but that still pushed them into the firing line.

All of this brings us to their new EP, "Lese Majesty". This is the culmination of all the growth and evolution that the duo has been aiming for and is a perfect portrait of the band in 2019. Opening number "A Shepherd In Wolven Skin" blasts its way into the ears with furious riffs and relentless percussion, nine minutes of pure adrenalin and blackened death. Woven into this fabric is effective clean singing and even a bout of whistling that is initially somewhat awkward but makes perfect sense with further listens. "Æstivation" is a short spoken-word interlude that lays the atmosphere in thick and pungent and opens us up to "Into The Temple Of Spears". This follows the same linear musical path that feels like it’s aimed towards a cataclysmic end, filled with mean riffs and intense vocals. The album ends with one of Bölzer’s finest songs to date, the epic "Ave Fluvius! Danu Be Praised!". There is an ominous, ambient build-up that holds the song back by two minutes before all hell breaks loose, and then we’re deep in the filthy mire and back under the band’s thumb. Just when the listener feels like they can take no more, it drops away and we end with more ambient silence that is particularly eerie.

The band simply shines the whole way through, and they should be extremely proud of this release. It takes all the fine Bölzer elements, mixes in some dark, occult magic, pushes the music to a new level, and it just gets better with each spin. All hail the Bölzer hype, for it is well-earned.