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Review: Bølzer - Hero

Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Year released: 2016
Duration: 46:38
Tracks: 9
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 4.25/5

Review online: February 22, 2021
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
Readers Rating

Rated 4/5 (80%) (5 Votes)

Bølzer (the word seems to be hard to translate into a single English word, but the band uses it to roughly mean "reckless forceful blow") are yet another one of those bands that generated some buzz years ago that I somehow missed, releasing a couple of highly regarded EPs before getting to Hero, their first full-length album, over five years ago. This appears to be a contentious release among fans, with some calling it a refinement of their earlier work while others claim it's too polished and cleaned up for its own good. Having no experience with their more lauded works, I can only judge this on its own merits, which happen to be high.

Hero sees the project working in an esoteric form of Black Metal that doesn't really sound like much else in the genre. Similarities can be drawn to the later works of The Ruins of Beverast at their most ritualistic, though not as intricate or adventurous as that would imply. The songwriting consists of blasts of dense riffs mixed with more melodic, Doom-styled sections to make for a wall-of-sound approach that's mystical and at times borders on inscrutable.

As novel and interesting as this is, it's not quite as grand as it wants to be. The guitar tone could stand to be a bit meaner, and while the melodic work on here is often excellent, a few of the leads can be a little smoother than this kind of thing calls for. The biggest sticking point for many would be in the vocals, which varies between a harsh yell and a bizarre clean style that's akin to a mix between a bluesy holler and ceremonial chanting. Most of the time they add a lot to the eclectic atmosphere of the album, but there are points where they're not given much to accompany them, and that's where they begin to sound overwrought and silly.

Despite some minor issues, when the band fully reaches for what they're grasping for, as on the mystical title track and the massive "I AM III", they produce an ambitious and encompassing sound that can stand up with the best of the more experimental Black Metal out there today. Strongly recommended.

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