Live Review: Bolzer - Exchange, Bristol
29th May 2023
Words: Richard Oliver
A ferocious night of intense metal awaited Bristol bringing to a close the third bank holiday weekend of the month. A hot night in the Exchange venue awaited with one of the most in-demand UK black metal bands of the moment plus one of the most revered and talked about European underground metal bands
Unlike the Plymouth show the previous night there was no local support at Bristol meaning the doors opened at 19:00 and Abduction not coming on stage until 19:50. The Exchange is not a big venue but there was a respectable crowd in there to watch the Derby black metal horde assault the senses. The room was very darkly lit and the band hit the stage with identities concealed with the band members wearing face coverings and frontman A|V hooded, masked and his face completely concealed so the mood and ambience was very much in place. Abduction have a very well rounded black metal sound which is at times very traditional sounding, sometimes very dissonant, sometimes very atmospheric and also bleak and melancholic and these different aspects of the band's sound were explored and embraced across their set.
A good chunk of the set was lifted from the band’s latest album 'Black Blood' with other songs taken from previous album 'All Pain As Penance' with the furious ‘Kernos Crown’ kicking off proceedings. With five band members on stage space was limited so they were fairly static though frontman A|V put in a passionate performance with his ferocious roar, almost a force of nature broken up by moments of baritone cleans. Abduction definitely won over the crowd in attendance including some friends I was with who had not seen them live before. A spellbinding performance of the melancholic ‘Convulsing At Baalbek’ brought things to an epic conclusion and the set was a reminder why Abduction are in such high demand at the moment.
There are not too many two-piece metal bands in existence. As the metal genre usually has such an intensive sound it normally cannot be achieved with just two band members. BØLZER are definitely the exception to this rule with a sound more intensive than a lot of six piece bands. The Swiss band is comprised of ten-string guitarist and vocalist KzR and drummer HzR and combined together they have the densest and heaviest sound imaginable mixing together elements of black metal, death metal and sludge metal.
With the only backing tracks coming from ambient intros and interludes the barrage of metal is the product of the two guys on stage with the guitars a dense all-encompassing wall of noise which shook the venue to its foundations whilst the drums were absolutely relentless sounding like cannons being fired. Add to this the intensive bellow of KzR and eardrums were well and truly being assaulted. There was plenty of room on stage for KzR to pace about and bang his head and the sweat was well and truly pouring off of him maybe due to the heat of the lights on stage or due to the intensity of the performance or perhaps a combination of both. The set was a nice mix of material from the band’s sole album 'Hero'” and the various E.P.’s they have released with roars of appreciation coming from the audience for songs such as ‘The Archer’, ‘Phospor’ and ‘Æstivation’ though the most appreciation was shown for the closing duo of ‘C.M.E.’ and ‘Entranced By The Wolfshook’ from the 'Aura' E.P..
There was a general feeling leaving the venue that we had all witnessed something a big special as BØLZER are a fairly unique band. With such a dense and intense sound that night some of the intricacies of the song got a bit lost in the mix but this was replaced by sheer sonic devastation which in my opinion more than made up for it. BØLZER are a band that are seemingly going from strength to strength and are one that really need to be witnessed live to fully appreciate.