Release Date: Jul 14, 2017
Record label: Sargent House
Eerie and beautiful. Cold, yet warm Boris doesn't have much left to prove at this point in their career. They could easily get away with coasting if they wanted to, releasing uninspired albums, ceasing experimentation, and tour off the "greatest hits" until the wheels come off. But Boris doesn't do that - they're 25 years deep into their career and constantly reinventing themselves and pushing the boundaries of their sound.
My Beloved Boris, So taken was I with Dear - your affectionate letter to fans - I thought it only polite to write back. You promised an album of transcendental heaviness, and may lightning strike me hairless if you haven't delivered one. The first few tracks make it plain that colossal noise is back in abundance, and out of the thick, slumberous drone comes the emphatic howls of opener Domination Of Waiting Noise.
Back in 2016, experimental Japanese sludge rockers Boris spent the better part of the year playing their landmark 2005 album, Pink, to audiences around the globe. It was meant to be a break for the band before they went back into the studio to work on what was meant to be their final album (or at least, for the version of Boris as we know them. ) Instead, they were inspired to keep going.
There is one constant thread running through Boris' sonic persona over the last quarter century: "heaviness." For them, the word is not only an adjective, but an operative verb. It's what unites fans, though this power trio have never made devotion easy. The size of their catalog -- some 23 albums, countless splits, EPs, flexi-singles, collaborations, etc.
For all the much-deserved praise Boris get for their endless experimenting, the Japanese trio has never been afraid of using the types of melodies that hardline noise fans tend to curl their noses at. At times throughout Boris' prolific career--during any given live performance, even--you sometimes get the impression that there's a hair band trying to get out from under the rolling waves of feedback and guitar distortion. It is, in fact, this willingness to toss aside stylistic rules that, for better or worse, has defined Boris' zig-zagging trajectory since 1992.
In their 25-year existence, Boris has always been a prolific and daring band. Avant-rock concepts, doom riffs, heavy rock, and stoner, combined with noise and avant-garde ideas. Boris has seemingly done it all, and the albums the band put out this decade alone display this elusive form. There was a J-pop influenced record in New Album, revisiting their heavy rock/stoner moments in Heavy Rocks 2011, the alternative rock side Attention Please, diving into experimentalism in Praparat, applying dream pop and shoegaze to their doom/sludge core with Noise, revealing their allure towards post-rock and drone in the trilogy of Urban Dance, Warpath and Asia, and finally collaborating again with noise maestro Merzbow in the release of Gensho.
Being a fan of Boris is never boring. Japan's experimental metal trickster gods release albums at a rate of one to three per year and switch genres the way some guitarists switch between effects pedals. Lately, it's seemed as though it's not a question of whether Atsuo, Wata and Takeshi are trolling us, only how are they trolling us this time? They spent their first decade honing a unique style of hellbent, psychedelic metal.
One quarter century into their musical lifespan, Boris was ready to hang it up. An obligatory classic album tour in which they performed their landmark Pink was enough to re-energize the trio, leading to an album which makes nods to their entire discography. There's something here that will speak to any fan, even those who prefer one particular mode of Boris over all others.
For a record its creators started work on in the belief it might be their swansong, this album doesn't half seethe with energy, rippling with a vigour more typical of a group in their infancy rather than in decline. The sessions that yielded Dear - whittled down from three albums' worth to this set of 10 cuts, which still weighs in at more than an hour - also resulted in a renewed conviction that there are galaxies in the heavy music universe that Boris, a group currently celebrating their 25th year, have yet to fully explore. And while Dear pulses with long-established characteristics such as bombast, abrupt shifts in EQ, extreme sonic juxtapositions and abysmal sustain, all of which underpin the Japanese trio's tribal affiliation with Melvins, Sunn O))) and Sub Pop-era Earth, there are new stars being born here, new bridges to rock absurdity being built.