The only thing one can be sure of when listening to the legendary Tokyo trio Boris, is to expect the unexpected. The unchanged lineup has released twenty-four full length records in their 25-year long career! Not to mention the countless EPs, splits, and singles the band releases nearly every year. To mark their 25th anniversary, Boris has returned with their latest full length offering in Dear – a monstrous slab of pure distortion and sludge.
To those uninitiated with Boris, they are one of the bands that can lay claim to have charted the complete territory of what could be called experimental music. Drone, stoner-rock, grunge, pop, punk, doom, sludge, shoegaze, post-rock: Boris have done it all. What makes Dear stand-out is that this time they have tied all those elements in a cohesive manner to deliver something much better and bigger in scale than a record where the focus was on the individual sub-genres. On Dear, Boris brings back the heavy, distorted riffs from their debut days, mixes it with just the right amount of hardcore vibes – reminiscent of previous works like Pink – and adds the shoegaze pop from their past few albums.
Right off the bat, it’s clear that the focus here is on making slow, brooding music that drags the listener in at once. Boris have built their legacy around their work on distorted guitar musicianship and amp tweaks, with “Deadsong” perfectly exemplifying this point. One can nearly visualise the sound crawling through the listeners veins, as the eerie squeal-ish chords playing in the background over the drum beats pounding away. Experimentation has always been the key for the band, and Dear is no exception; A hardcore tending track like “Absolutego” quickens up the pace, in contrast to tracks like “Beyond” which sees guitarist/vocalist Wata bring in some classic AOR vocals to the fore.
Dear was originally planned to be the album with which Boris would call it the end of their quarter century long career. The writing sessions supposedly yielded material worth multiple albums, but were subsequently pooled down to one record. This is the biggest pothole that Dear falls to. There is clear scope for the album to be much more precise and shorter in length, as the second half of the album feels stretched into eternity. While the music is still heavy and crushing, it tends to drags on into oblivion, which results in loss of listeners attention. Tracks like “Kagero” and “The Power” are and endless commotion of slow riffs, to no end.
Ironically, the best music on record comes from the longest track, “Dystopia -Vanishing Point”, towards the very end of the record. The track brings with a plethora of emotions, showcasing one of the best works of Boris till date. It has a really slow ambient build up, with narrative vocals built around the most minimalistic instrumentation. The second half acts as a stark contrast to the first, with an emotional guitar solo stretched till the end. Yet, the two parts of the track still feel as a part of something much more emotional and much bigger than the individual halves.
To sum it all up, Dear is a monumental record, and perfectly sums up the grand history of the Japanese trio in Boris. The amazing mixture of sludge, drone, shoegaze, and post-rock results in one of the most intriguing records of the summer. It’s a great record to get into Boris if you have not heard them before, and a must own for the long-time fans.
Notable Tracks: “Deadsong”; “Absolutego”; “Dystopia -Vanishing Point”
FFO: Sunn O))), Drug Honkey, Nadja
One can follow Boris on their social media pages on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, or visit their website for updates about tours, future records, etc. Dear is now available on Sargeant Records, and can be purchased from the label shop, Bandcamp or iTunes.