BÖLZER front-man Okoi Jones challenges controversy, reveals the source of inspiration, and will never surrender!

We here at Covenant, like many others, were utterly spellbound the first time we heard Bölzer. One resonant strike from the ten-string guitar, one primordial howl, and our hearts were instantly seduced.

The last four years have seen Bölzer appear near and far, bringing their singular two-piece magic to stages in five continents, release records both endearing and polarizing, and receive both the ire and admiration of the extreme metal world.

In 2017, Bölzer came to Vancouver, Canada (the home of our operations) for the second time to appear at Covenant Festival III, and in a swift lightning flash, entranced our festival with their work.

Having run into the duo around the world several times and host them now twice in our city developed a strong camaraderie and mutual respect between Bölzer and the Covenant. When we launched the magazine side of our operation a number of months ago, one of our first goals was to interview either one of these barbarians. In a characteristically candid chat, we’re happy to present to you Okoi Jones’ musings on the source of their inexorable power, neutrality in creation,  past controversies … and adult beverages.

People love to talk, and, however unfortunate, negative topics seem to interest the majority of them more than positive ones. In the meantime, Bölzer just keeps on smashing everything in its path, and moving on to the next target. You guys are now well-travelled men, so tell us- how is the world domination coming?

Hahaha hey Seb, nice to speak with you again!

Well things have not slowed for us this year with the band seeing many successful appearances on various continents and a further number of larger festivals debuted! 2019 is looking up to be a busy one too with new releases planned and fresh Terra Nova to traverse!

It has now been almost 2 years since the release of your long awaited full-length Hero. The great sonic shift, inevitable controversy, and a subsequent rise to power … While, some fans experienced the ridiculous heavy metal phenomenon of “betrayal” at any unorthodoxy, others found a great treasure in the album. It seems to have been a well-executed visionary decision on your parts!! Now that you’ve had time to ruminate and reflect in this recent time of silence … did all go as planned?

Haha you certainly lend a tantalising element of drama to the truth! Thank you?! I think it fair to say I/we simply wrote what seemed appropriate at the time, which was a rather turbulent period for me personally. I intentionally wandered into some new territory prior to entering and whilst in the studio with the intention of challenging myself and in order to ruffle a few proverbial feathers on the way. Wealth or knowledge seldom befall the indifferent and it was a stimulating experience to experiment with other tones for a change. So yes, overall a successful venture by our terms!

Thematically Bölzer seems to wield a mythical voice shouting at the heavens in ritual and lament! While you’ve evolved towards a more formless atavistic lens with each release, are you longing for a more heroic age? What would that look like to your mind’s eye?

The state of this world and its inhabitants ought to be inspiration enough for any conscious person to want to change something. I am increasingly convinced it is a perverse and tasteless dream I am living, hence the escapism via art.

I am far from succumbing to nihilism mind you, the dutiful call of action in the interest of change remains the noblest of causes. Call me a hopeless romantic but anything else would be surrender in my book. A vast majority of our society have no real reason to live aside from earning and consuming, a good healthy dose of hardship and unrest is the best that could happen to them.

The power in your live presence is nothing short of shamanic! Ancient, potent symbols clash with triumphant sounds and mighty delivery. It’s practically a tribal initiation into manhood … Meanwhile, your albums are full of arcane whispers and tones, adorned with art reminiscent of cave drawings … tell us more about your connection to this primordial current and where is it taking the music next?

Sebastian, seducer of hearts…!

A large part of me feels inseparably bound to the past, it is where my spirit seeks solace amidst a present age it understands but simply does not respect. There is something in me, I dare say in all of us that wishes to sing, dance, create (indeed, live!) – and music is the medium with which I manage to express a limited number of these desires with certain degrees of success and satisfaction.

Music carries me away to beautiful places of might and splendour, but it also allows me to experience emotions and visions of a violent nature which reality or its circumstances would refuse me. I can only expect our music to become more potent and honest as this is certainly my intention.

Your lyrics in Bölzer are always short, concise, poignant vignettes. This may be a difficult thing to trace, as it is both something preternatural and intrinsically subconscious, but what artists (musicians, authors, or otherwise) influence this style of speech and expression for you?

This may strike you as strange, ignorant or egotistical, although it would be far from the truth, but I try to remain somewhat neutral or immune as to what influences me when writing, at least on a conscious level. This is essentially a futile exercise given the preternatural and intrinsically subconscious factors, as you so aptly put it, we are subjected to when consuming or registering any form of sensory stimulation. Suffice it to say, I am more influenced by the forces that nature and the animal kingdom display than I am by the nobler deeds of man.

One thing that I really dislike is seeing an artist made to explain themselves. For me, art is meant to be something that transcends mundane interaction and dynamic, so when an artist is forced to explicitly delineate their motives, or thought process, they are intrinsically dragged down in to an uncomfortable plane. You’ve been made to explain yourself a lot recently. Has this changed the dynamic on the way you view Bölzer, and on how people view you?

I could not agree with you more dear Sir! Unfortunately free speech would dictate that also the crudest of minds be given a voice on matters which far exceed their expertise or sensibilities.

I have little against being confronted in a mature manner, but when no regard is shown for the principals of rational debate because the plaintiff is simply incapable of doing so, I switch off.
If anything, it has sharpened my tongue and improved my strength of character.

The world of the internet is a very strange one, and enables people to say a lot of things that they wouldn’t dare in the flesh. It is no surprise to you I’m sure that there are people with things to say about Bölzer online, but have any of these interactions ever transpired in real life?

Haha never, which is rather unfortunate I find, for I should like to shake the hand of a man so honest!

Heavy metal, and otherwise dark, emotive, spiritual music seems to be in this incredible flow-state, where well-informed labels have their niche cornered, great bands have their sound dialed in, and another magnificent release seems to drop on the daily. Do you struggle to keep up with what is coming out? What is catching your ear right now?

I do not make much of an effort to keep up with everything, but anything worth listening to usually makes its way to my ears eventually. Besides, when you miss something relevant it is all the more enjoyable being able to celebrate it without feeling like you are part of the crowd!

I try to refrain from naming specifics because there are often so many but Anna von Hausswolff is superb as are Drab Majesty! I have been keeping up with Enslaved for years now too because they are so good, otherwise digging Whoredom Rife and the latest yet unreleased albums from Obliteration and Paysage d’Hiver

Now, to finally address something important… it is no secret that yourself and Fabian are both fans of fermented barley and hop beverages. Surely the chance to travel as widely as you guys have has lead to some interesting discoveries on this front. Walk us through some highlights here.

Haha that is a hard one, there are simply too many and if you frequent decent bars at home or abroad there is no choice but to be inundated with godly juices.

I often select my beers according to mood or season and if that was not capricious enough there are young breweries kicking up a storm in the scene every month making it very difficult to favour any select names. Nevertheless we were recently blown away by the craft beers available in Lisbon. Portugal is well known for it’s Sagres/Super Bock monopoly and we had been served the stuff since entering the country 3 days earlier so it was a real pleasure roaming around the industrial district in search of institutions independent of Anheuser-Busch. Quimera Brewpub, Dois Corvos Cervejeira and The Beer Station are all highly recommended, offering world class beverages (brewed on site!) and plenty of great tapas with great service to boot.

Thank you again for indulging our over-the-top inquiries, as well as shedding some light onto some deeper (and not so deep!) subjects. Continue the conquest, sir! The final words are yours …

Many thanks for your time, my friend. The endless support you and the Vancouver scene have shown us is forever appreciated! See you on the road soon!


All photos by Shange Lange and Factory Worker Media taken at various Covenant events over the years.

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