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SELECTED & DISSECTED

ALBUM OF THE MONTH HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO

BÖLZER

‘Hero’

IRON BONEHEAD

Since the release of their 2012 demo ‘Roman Acupuncture’ the Swiss duo Bölzer, comprised of drummer HzR and guitarist/vocalist KzR, have made quite a name for themselves. Their status within the extreme metal underground has, for lack of a better term, soared. This meteoric rise is amazing for a band that, up to this point, have only produced eight songs, but a majority of critics and listeners all seem to emphatically agree: Bölzer are unique. So, this is one instance when the promotionally over-worn phrase “highly anticipated debut album” actually holds substance, which begs the question: Do Bölzer and ‘Hero’ live up to the hype?

In a word: Yes. Bölzer have never suffered from, or for, their ambition, and what is ‘Hero’ but ambitious? This astounding debut features nine tracks (an introductory soundscape ‘Urdr’, a chanted bridge ‘Decima’, a closing voiced soundscape ‘Atropos’ and six compositions) of epic, mythological-based metal that defies simple categorization. Yes, Bölzer walk the black/death path, but the splendid ‘Hero’ features a clarity, profundity, scope and – heaven forbid – sensuality far from atypical. Bölzer exhibit this in spades, and their unorthodox approach is a testament to their rebellion against convention and discipline.

‘Hero’ works, or plays, upon several dualities: One, it is stripped-down, but contains some subtle, and some not so subtle, embellishment(s) that create a synthesis of sound that walks the fine line between the chaotic and the sublime; Two, it is presented simply, but is quite complex from a compositional standpoint; Three, it is earth-bound and known and tangible, but gifts ascension and mystery and the intangible. And admittedly, there may be other dualities working that we, as outsiders, are blind to or fail, or lack the ability, to comprehend. Is it possible that within ‘Hero’ lies enlightenment and/or illumination? Others have certainly tried to obtain such lofty heights. Unlike most bands of the black/death ilk, Bölzer project palpable warmth, which produces a sense of ecstasy and wonderment. Collectively, they may be looking inward, after all they are at heart artists and are creating this for themselves, but their sound projects outward in an expansive, undulating and all-enveloping wave that actually lifts the listener beyond the firmament. This heightened sensation, for the enlightened listener, provides quite an awakening. Does anyone remember the lesson(s) borne from Plato’s ‘The Allegory Of The Cave’? The exuberance in the delivery exhibited throughout ‘Hero’ reaches far, and with the exception of the intro and outro bookends and momentary solemnity of the aforementioned ‘Decima’, propels ‘Hero’ forward with everincreasing speed.

One of the most striking things found on ‘Hero’ is the wonderfully interwoven melody, be it KzR’s guitar, his full-throated chanting or relatively ‘clean’ vocalisations. This use of melodic elements, again a foreign concept to most black/death-oriented acts, provides a counterpoint to the turbulence and violence. Thus, the possibilities of where Bölzer can go, or take the listener, seems endless, as beautifully and forlornly voiced by KzR in ‘Atropos’: “Mother do not despair/See you on the other side…”

CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX

‘Bronze’

SEASON OF MIST

Crippled Black Phoenix are, by definition, an experimental band, a vehicle to venture out further than Justin Greaves ever had in the harsher bands he’d been a part of as a drummer. When having seven members, lush arrangements, intricate melodies, complicated time signatures and Floydian psychedelia aplenty are all integral parts of a band’s raison d’être, it’s expected that there should be some meandering.

They’re not supposed to be concise, but damn it if sometimes Justin and the rest of the Crippled bunch don’t make it frustrating for us, making us wish they’d do some autoediting. To be blunt – ‘Bronze’s 67 minutes would have made a cracking 40 minute record, and it wouldn’t take a superstar engineer to do it. Just keep the cool, simpler psych/space-rockouts like ‘Deviant Burials’ or ‘No Fun’ (the shortest song on the record, make a note of that too), hold back on the five minute ambient bits that go nowhere (especially don’t make them the album intro!), end songs when they beg you to, not several minutes after, like on ‘Scared And Alone’ or ‘Rotten Memories’. Even simpler: take ‘Champions Of Disturbance’ and try to make a whole record like that. The best song the band has ever written, it’s like Floyd but heavier, like Neurosis but breezier, it’s fun, it’s deep, and it makes us want to give it another go as soon as it ends. Sadly, the same can’t be said for ‘Bronze’ as a whole, but the really brilliant bits still raise it way above average. Maybe a no-bullshit producer next time will be the spark CBP needs to achieve the greatness they’re so clearly capable of. Here’s hoping!

STONE FREE

JUSTIN GREAVES ON THE BAND’S COVER OF JOE WALSH’S ‘TURN TO STONE’

“Crippled Black Phoenix have a history of occasionally recording cover versions, usually as extra tracks or for compilation albums. This time, while recording ‘Bronze’, it occurred to me that our version of the classic Joe Walsh song ‘Turn To Stone’ was worthy of being part of the actual album. The original is such a great song and I think it fits with the Crippled Black Phoenix approach to playing good honest rock music. It got even better as we had the great fortune of having Arvid Jonsson from the band Greenleaf coming to the studio session in Stockholm to do some wicked guest vocals. His voice fits the songs so well!”

ADMIRAL SIR CLOUDESLEY SHOVELL

‘Keep It Greasy!’

RISE ABOVE

Eccentric. There’s a good wholesome word to describe Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell – and that’s the only time wholesome could be used in even in passing to refer to this band. Evidently the cheap speed from their debut ‘Don’t Hear It… Fear It!’ has worn off somewhat as they continue to lurch through England’s musical history with the confident swagger that comes from cutting lager with other pharmaceuticals and classy ’70s rock jams à la Blue Cheer (not that anything like class would occur to these unpretentious herberts). Rock music should at some level have shovelfuls of filth and debauchery alongside the flair and that’s just the level ASCD operate at, and that’s just the way you like it.

[7.5] STEVE R. JONES

AN AUTUMN FOR CRIPPLED CHILDREN

‘Eternal’

WICKERMAN

Six albums in six years suggests either huge creativity or a band simply trotting out formulaic craft, both things these Autumnal Dutchmen could be accused of. Like Deafheaven and Ghost Bath, their ploy is a paradoxical blend of lush ‘post-whatever’ melodies and raw ugly vocals. Musically plundering the 4AD back catalogue, ‘Disintegration’-era Cure with occasional Jesuetched touches, this has a thousand yard gaze about it. You can easily lose yourself in its caress but there’s nothing really substantially memorable about these songs. Passing like a ghost in the night, awakening after it ends, this fades like a dream rather than sticking in the mind like a solid nightmare.

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About Terrorizer Magazine

I love reading Album Of The Year features and it’s always fun compiling them – generally because they are often a great reminder of all the great albums that have come out over the last twelve months, as well as providing an opportunity to see how much in agreement we are all in here at Terrorizer HQ when it comes to displaying our own individual musical tastes. I’m sure you’ll read somewhere how 2016 has been a weak year for musical output, I read such articles every year and have done for as long as I can remember, but taste is in the ears of the beholder and frankly I reckon 2016 has provided some quality moments. I write this on the first day of hearing the new Metallica album as well. We didn’t get to hear the album prior to release – it would appear that someone in the band’s Ivory Tower didn’t consider the Terrorizer readers worthy of having a review in this issue. A shame really, and consequently the album hasn’t made our AOTY list. Rest assured that everything else that HAS made the list has been lovingly enjoyed for more than one measly advance stream anyway. We always try and keep things real at Tezza HQ. So who did make the Number One spot? Turn these ‘ere pages to find out! That’s also why you’ll find the mighty Crowbar on our cover. One of the most reliably heavy and honest bands out there – Kirk’s in mighty fine form and it’s a pleasure to have them on our final cover of the year. We hope you enjoy the story behind their new album and why he and Todd are back backing music once again. Here’s to a storming 2017! Adios Darren Sadler
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