Review : Boris - Attention Please / Heavy Rocks
PitchforkBoris have never been one for hedged bets or bridled ambitions. In the past 15 years, the Japanese trio has released more than 20 albums of heavy eclecticism-- stoner bludgeons and thrash blasts, dense drones and noise screes. They're the band with Atsuo-- the screaming, gong-banging drummer with one of those arena-rock, hands-off microphones-- and Takeshi, a multi-instrumentalist who plays a double-necked guitar so often and well that it doesn't seem like an affectation. Michio Kurihara, one of the world's best psychedelic guitarists, works as Boris' touring sideman. From former labelmates Sunn O))) to fellow Japanese sonic explorers Merzbow and Keiji Haino, they've also collaborated with a long list of experimental luminaries. All of this seems to be part and parcel to Boris' methodical quest to build a legacy of expansive, new heavy music, where no form is too sacred to break, no idea too mainstream to incorporate. If that's their plan, it's largely worked.
Accordingly, there are few release-day gestures more rock star than issuing two albums at the same time, as Boris will do with the slight electropop-and-shoegaze departure Attention Please and the requisite metal grab bag Heavy Rocks. What's more, this is the second Boris LP to sport the title Heavy Rocks; the first was released in 2002, and nearly a decade later, it still stands as one of Boris' best efforts, a landmark distillation of stoner metal and noise rock built with enviable precision and aggression. This moment, then, is not only Boris' look-how-popular-we-are exclamation but also their look-how-much-we've-grown assertion; essentially, Attention Please and Heavy (Heavier?) Rocks are logical next steps for the Boris legacy. But riddled as this pair of albums is with confounding musical indecision and listless stylistic repetition, they mostly serve as reminders of how remarkable and inventive Boris have been and often threaten to be. Heavy Rocks was sturdier back in 2002, while the appropriately titled Attention Please-- even if the more interesting of these two discs-- is a flimsy showcase for Boris guitarist Wata as a would-be college-rock frontwoman.
Heavy Rocks does the things you expect a Boris album to do: It explodes open with "Riot Sugar", a brutal blues-metal march with a rote, ragged riff and background grunts from the Cult's Ian Astbury. "Missing Pieces" alternates between spare guitar drift, gnarls of noise, and an epically forlorn crescendo, while the other 12-minute-plus tune, "Aileron", growls and swells before drifting off into a piano-and-distortion haze. For fans of Boris, the material is a double-edged sword: It's the sort of motley metal that brought you to the fold one way or another, but that means you've already heard it-- all of it, from the massive soundscapes on Pink to the dynamic sizzle in Amplifier Worship-- several times before. Here, it's all offered like a mixtape, with no narrative arch or musical momentum....full text
RocksoundOkay, Boris; now you’re just taking the piss. Yep, not only are the insanely prolific Japanese outfit releasing two new albums simultaneously, but in the case of ‘Heavy Rocks’, they’re also recycling the title of an old one. Still, said record does exactly what it says on the tin, veering between fuzzed-up garage rock stomp and mesmeric psychedelic sprawl in a manner that’s sure to delight fans of 09’s ‘Smile’. More intriguing, however, is ‘Attention Please’, in which guitarist Wata assumes the role of lead vocalist, her honeyed tones providing some of the band’s most outwardly ‘pop’ moments to date. Stunning....full text
HellboundIf you’re an obsessive vinyl collector who just so happens to enjoy the heavier side of rock music, Boris is an absolute godsend. Not only is the Japanese trio extremely prolific, yielding several studio albums, EPs, and collaborations each year, but Boris is fully aware of just how much of its fanbase fetishizes the vinyl format. Cynics might accuse the band of taking advantage of its fans by gouging them time and again, but much more often than not, the quality of the music is consistently good. For casual listeners, though, following Boris’s career is much more daunting. Where the hell does one start? The heavy drone pieces like Absolutego and Flood? The more direct forays into heavy rock like Pink and Smile? The adventurous, accessible psychedelia of Amplifier Worship and Rainbow? Which new album is a quote-unquote official studio album, and which is a more tossed-off collaboration?
Typical of Boris, the band has kicked off 2011 in befuddling fashion. The cheekily titled New Album consists of tracks lifted from two other forthcoming full-lengths, presented in different mixes. Klatter is the trio’s sixth collaboration with Japanese noise great Merzbow. All well and good, certainly more than enough to interest Boris’s many devotees, but the aforementioned other two albums are the ones that have both the obsessives and the outsiders talking this spring. In fact, not since 2006′s Pink has there been this much advance buzz. And as it turns out, for good reason.
Boris is always at its best and most exciting the more adventurous they get, and the two new records, Heavy Rocks and Attention Please, are just that, as both see drummer Atsuo, guitarist Wata, and bassist Takeshi embrace their accessible side in ways nobody, especially those on the metal side of the fence, could possibly have imagined. Both turn out to be essential inclusions in the Boris discography, mandatory listens, but listeners who jones for Wata’s brilliant, heavy riffing might want to start with Heavy Rocks, if anything for familiarity’s sake. Not to be confused with the 2002 album of the same name, Heavy Rocks doesn’t so much redefine Boris’s music as refine it....full text
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