Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Bolzer - Hero (2016)

Out of all of the complaints I've seen fired at this album the one that perplexes me the most is that of the production, which, to me, not only sounds full and colossal but also manages to stay true to the aural aesthetic of the band's previous work. If anything, that would be the one true victory this time 'round for Bolzer. That, of course, is not to say that I deem 'Hero' a failure on any level. Hardly. It is just that there are those elements that I can clearly see others being thrown off track over, such as the various vocal nuances that have been brought out to the forefront instead of being relegated to mere "guest appearance" status as they have previously been.

Again, that shit doesn't bother me in the slightest. It's not as if the band "all of a sudden" decided to employ and incorporate clean vocals into their arsenal. They've been doing that shit since day one. It's just that this time around they decided to add a little more. Injecting them into areas where they saw fit. Fine by me. I happen to like them. There is something mighty, almost Grecian, about them to me which, of course, only adds to flavor of the lyrical content as well as the windy atmosphere and ensuing onslaught of the music itself.

There are slight gripes to be had, for sure, such as the first half of the album having a "same-y" sort of feel to it, not to mention that the riffs themselves aren't particularly the most inventive ol' KzR's conjured fourth. However, things begin to get mighty interesting around the intermission and beyond and that's really where the album's best songs come out to do battle. The riffing on a few of these tracks is downright bizarre and not far removed from that which you would hear on an Immolation album, which could never be a bad thing!

The only other flaw that can be construed is the lack of KzR's deeper growl. Starting with his work with New Zealand's Witchrist, he began to employ a slightly higher, raspier cackle, which, in and of itself sounds great, yet I am also as fan of the behemoth howl of old found on Bolzer's previous work so it would have been a treat to have heard a little more of them on this album. Nothing to fret over, though, as the vocal manifestations here are quite competent on their own and certainly get the job done.

Aside from these few and truly minor criticisms, I remain in awe of this band and, again, find myself rather puzzled as to the amount of angst and flak they have received from their supposed "fans" for this album. I hear no real deviation from earlier outings and it certainly stands out amidst the sea of technical chug-fests that is in no danger of drying up, The only thing I can come up with is that the metal scene has indeed been flooded with a newer, whinier type of "fan" that persists upon pissing and moaning over any perceived slight against their precious and oh so delicate sensibilities. Ironically, I've noticed that fanatically ousting someone as being a "hipster" is a tactic employed by... hipsters!

Anyway, fuck what the underground kvlt hipsters tell ya, Hero is a great album indeed filled with more good ideas than not and I definitely look forward to what comes next from the band.

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