Japanese chameleons Boris go back toward drone, doom vein, create sonic open letter ‘Dear’

Photo by Miki Matsushima

Spend 25 years doing something, and you’re bound to repeat yourself from time to time. It’s only natural that it would happen that way, because it’s hard to remain fresh and motivated to try new things when you’re used to your ways, and they have brought you success. That’s why Boris always have been such a fascinating case.

Here we are, in their 25th year of existence, and the Japanese trio Boris are back with a new record “Dear” that is yet another offshoot for a band that never has retread their territories. Yes, they simmered and hovered over certain areas for times, but their records always stood apart from each other, which is baffling since they have put out so damn many of them. “Dear” is another ripple for Boris, one far different from their most recent works such as “New Album” and “Attention Please,” though they started to round back on lesser-known (at least here in the States) albums including “Urban Dance” and “Warpath.” This 10-track, 70-minute album, that was culled from three records’ worth of material, dips back into Boris’ doom and drone roots, stuff you’d hear on “Absolutego” or “Amplifier Worship,” but only in approach. You still get dreamy, psyche-gaze from the band—guitarist/vocalist Wata, bassist/guitarist/vocalist Takeshi Ohtani, drummer/vocalist Atsuo Mizuno—as well as plenty of other sounds that found their way into the Boris mix the last quarter century. But the reconnection with their droning fury is a welcome turn and makes this one of Boris’ heaviest records in a long time.

“DOWN-Domination of Waiting Noise” kicks off the record with the drums punching things open and the doom cloud dragging. Takeshi’s singing rises above the din, soaring and bursting over the music, while the noise bleeds away and stretches all the way to the end. “DEADSONG” drips with energy, as the drone scrapes, and whispery howls poke from behind. Sounds reverberate and the singing swells, as the noise spits poison. Doomy pounding returns, sounds zap, and the final minute feels like it’s off to the cosmos. “Absolutego,” named after their debut record, is a crusher and a lot of fun. Stoner-style riffs create the vibe, mauling away, while the singing adds even more character. This one is a monster, a totally engaging one that’s draped in wailing and harsh cries before heading out. “Beyond” has shadowy, echo-rich drums, mournful guitars, and Wata taking most of the singing, as she creates a dream state. The track is softer and reflective, though later the piece opens up, Takeshi’s singing joins, and the band finds an epic, emotional high that swells the heart. “Kagero” spills drone, as cymbals are crushed and higher-pitched singing slices through bones. The song feels like a formless cloud of energy, stinging from the first note to the last.

“Biotope” breaks open with singing swimming and trippy synth creating a psychedelic atmosphere. Keys blip and the sounds swirl with energy, while the vocals continue to lure you into dreamland with the drum beats keeping the pace. “The Power” runs 7:42 and has a noisy, bluesy feel on the front end. The track trudges and clobbers, doing bruising while it mesmerizes, and a steady riff snakes through the body of the song, acting as the spine that holds everything together before it slowly bleeds out. “Memento Mori” is an interesting one that’s built on more noise and bustling drums. The psyche storm returns and hovers over the thing, as the rest of the elements are pulled back a bit and allowed to disappear into the air. “Dystopia-Vanishing Point” is the longest cut at 11:52, and it fades in slowly with accordions humming and drums beginning to kick up dust. This largely is a dreamgaze piece for a long stretch, with your mind allowed to wander, and the signing hypnotizing. A long dose of calm is disrupted by some bursts and a blazing solo that reaches its longer fingers over the cut and squeezes out its blood. The back end is packed with renewed emotion and a heavy round of scorching. The closing title cut runs 9:24 and has a major stoner vibe at the start, like they’re channeling Sleep. The track has lurching vocals and sounds scraping at flesh, and later the singing swells deeper, as the drums crush souls. Noise hums, the band feels like they’re generating enough electricity to power the world, and the track ends in a pile of rubble, the result of Boris’ audio destruction.

Boris’ influence on heavy music and their amazing accomplishments are things of legends, and they’re still making eardrums throb with “Dear.” Whether this is the end of the road for the band or if this open letter merely is a new chapter, there’s no question that Boris have been one of the most unpredictable, creative bands of their time. The fact they’ve remained fresh and regenerating have kept them vital and alive, and their music still is turning people on their heads.

For more on the band, go here: http://borisheavyrocks.com/

To buy the album, go here: https://www.hellomerch.com/collections/boris

For more on the label, go here: https://sargenthouse.com/