Swiss death unit Bölzer return with ‘Soma’ EP that should keep their torches burning savagely

BolzerEvery now and again, a band will rise up and capture the imagination of listeners everywhere. You’ll hear their name dropped constantly, you’ll read tons of accounts of people praising their music, and, after a while, you’ll get the reactionary backlash because too much adulation can have that effect on people. Can’t let people have too much success, am I right?

We’re seeing all of that now with mighty death metal unit Bölzer. The Swiss band was the talk of this year’s Maryland Deathfest, and their two sets were must-see events to find out if the group could hold up their end live. Needless to say, they lived up to the hype. All of this was built up by the release of last year’s powerful “Aura” EP, a three-song collection that breathed new life into the death metal genre and showed that the music is at its most powerful when played with a deadly approach and passion. Yes, there were many, many people singing the praises of a band that had delivered three songs, but every compliment was worth its weight, and Bölzer’s profile started to rise in the underground. Naturally, there now are detractors coming out of the woodwork because it’s just a natural reaction when something new gets this kind of shine, and those people are entitled to their opinions. But Bölzer also get a lot of talk because they’re damn good, already have their own characteristic sound, and are hellbent on devastation.

Bolzer coverNow, the world is being bombarded with a new EP from the band called “Soma,” a two-track effort dedicated to the goddess Luna that continues on the same bloody path the band has been beating since their formation in 2008. It’s notable that this record doesn’t quite have the same impact as “Aura,” though that’s because we know what to expect from them soundwise, so that initial surprise is no longer there. That said, these songs still are crushing, violent, and damn effective blasts of real death metal, and band members KzR (vocals, guitars) and HzR (drums) sound like they’re sharpening their arsenal before they get us with a full-length document. Until that time arrives, they seem to be satisfied putting out these smaller collections, and as long as they keep sounding this good, who can complain?

The EP opens with “Steppes,” a raw, muscular blast that’s filled with menacing riffs, throaty shouts, and pure aggression. The noise hangs in the air like a poisonous cloud, with everything reaching a boiling point and threatening to bubble over. Angry spoken shouts, eerie transmissions, and a return to their grisly mission of death caps off this song that definitely has its way with you. The second and last track “Labyrinthian Graves” runs 12:48, and it fades in like it’s slowly crawling out of a dank cave. It’s not long before the song absolutely blows open, firing shrapnel and bone shards your way as the band powers through you. There are big, crunchy riffs, and some monotone howling that runs concurrent with the deadly growls, and a pace that finds a steady, but damaging tone. That’s an important note, by the way. The band isn’t going for full-throttle violence on this one, and instead they take their time pounding you, looking for the submission finish rather than a knockout. It works really well, and it keeps the song interesting through its run time. Later in the track, spacey keys crack the atmosphere and hover overhead, and the track fades away in the night, with your soul likely in tow.

Bölzer deserve every bit of adulation they have received the past couple years, and if that has raised their profile and revealed them to more people, good. They remain one of the freshest, most intriguing death metal bands going, and it’s clear from their first two EPs why so many people—myself included—are so excited about them. I’m interested in hearing what this band could do with a full-length record, and they seem ambitious and creative enough to come up with a longer document that’s just as compelling as these EPs. Until that time arrives, we can further dissect and get lost in releases such as “Soma,” which keep death metal’s blood as infected as ever.

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