HARROW (Click to enlarge)

Photo Gallery: Descending the Steps with Bölzer (wsg Ritual Necromancy + Spell + Harrow) at The Astoria, Vancouver (18 October 2015)

BOLZER (Click to enlarge)

BOLZER (Click to enlarge)

Whether deep within lightless subterranean passages or beyond the shadow of the furthest stars, Covenant Festival organizers embaced the infinite permeating darkness by its staging of Bölzer‘s first ever Vancouver show with support from the visceral derangement of Ritual Necromancy, the hypnotic incantations of Spell, and Harrow‘s flourishing black metal ecstasy.

Executing their strongest set in Vancouver to date, Victoria’s Harrow demonstrated not only increased focus and proficiency but a greater comfort with live performance than one has witnessed previously. Evidently the crowd, captivated by the remarkable cohesion of the opening act, attuned itself early on and remained mesmerized until the end of the set, bursting into fervent applause well-deserved by a band that has clearly been hard at work to realize its uniquely Cascadian black metal sound.

Vancouver’s Spell followed with a set of material familiar to witnesses of the band’s appearance in June at The Hindenburg, on the first night of the inaugural Covenant Festival. While the band clearly maintains a healthy local following, one hopes that new material is forthcoming.

Lending weight to the belief that Portland, Oregon is possessed by an unearthly wealth of talent, Ritual Necromancy unleashed a captivating assault of crazed death metal that lived up to all previous reports stating that their performance on the second night of Covenant Festival was an undisputed highlight of the event. The band ended their set with a guest appearance by Covenant co-organizer Sebastian Montesi (Auroch, Mitochondrion), taking their conjurings one glorious step further towards the abyss.

Arguably, within the death metal community there are few acts as highly esteemed as the mighty Bölzer, but the hype is well-deserved: what the two-man act from Switzerland presented to a packed Astoria audience was unrivalled in intensity and surprisingly loyal to the inspired sound of its recorded material, no doubt due to vocalist/guitarist KzR’s meticulous pedalboard manipulations.

Overall an impressive display of musicianship and occult authenticity, attended by one of the largest crowds this reviewer has seen at the Astoria.