Dear Boris, Give Us 25 More Years
There are few bands out there for which expectations are the farthest reality from the word’s definition. For some 25 years now, Japanese experimental metal trio Boris have done exactly that: exceeded and surpassed any expectations by leaving listeners with nothing really to expect in the first place. They’ve incorporated facets of drone, sludge, punk and even shoegaze in manners innovative and intriguing, so prior plans for their newest album, Dear, to be their last would’ve been creatively tragic. After an extensive bout of reliving their 2006 release, Pink, on tour, Boris decided that Dear wasn’t an end of an era, but the beginning of another.
Since Boris have been Boris — the same three members for almost three decades — forever, a “swan song” of an album would be representative of an extensive aural history. Dear is this, taking the best of over three albums of songwriting material and cramming it into one. Songs linger on quite clamorously, like opener “D.O.W.N. -Domination of Waiting Noise-” The drone crinkles and cracks purposefully at a slow pace, as drums briefly break the vocal harmony before returning to the serious drone. Following track “DEADSONG” brings back a strong doom sound, as one of the heavier yet still fairly emotive tracks on Dear.
The record is able to balance harsh frequencies with commanding riffs and drumming. Individual tracks like “Kagero” and “Memento Mori” are sedative and haunting in their use of reverb drone and vocal effects pedals, capturing a shoegaze-tinged sound. A reimagining of “Absolutego,” their eponymous, 1996, one-song-long album, gives a new, grittier metal (but in no way as epic) feel to the album. However, the band’s sound is best when these two aesthetics are perfectly blended. Sitting at almost 12 minutes, “Dystopia -Vanishing Point-” slowly rises like the cab of a rollercoaster reaching its peak, before a weighty and sludgy intermission, after about nine minutes, jolts the system in anticipation of the song’s descent. It mixes strict noise with the group’s brand of creative doom in an idyllic cocktail of the two.
Dear is one of Boris’s most experimental works yet. Fortunately it was not the farewell album that the band had initially conceived. Even if it were, it would’ve been a good, grimly beautiful one.