Left Hip

From the beginning, Japanese rockers ‘Boris’ have been adamant that neither their music nor their band should be pigeon-holed into one specific genre, and since their debut in 1992 they have consistently escaped a linear musical definition through albums that sway from noise to classic stoner rock quite at random. It’s no surprise then that Atsuo, Wata & Takeshi, who make up the group, have managed to generate a cult following of loyal fans all over the world as well as having big names like Sunn0)) and Merzbow lining up to work with them (the latter having recently made an album with the group in late 2007).

So as one could imagine, the news of Boris’ new album entitled ‘Smile’ will no doubt be heralded with a furore of global enthusiasm.

And who can blame them, as from the offset ‘Smile’ proves itself to be a powerful and loud source of musical entertainment, Atsuo’s legendary drums opening the album on the track, ‘Message’, its industrial drumming extended for over three minutes before a retro and psychedelic/prog electric guitar swaggers into the mix followed by equally old school and psychedelic vocals.

Following this is ‘BUZZ-IN’ a high powered straight forward hard rock track with thrashing guitar and piercing vocals, and a early reminder that ‘Smile’, like the majority of Boris’ releases will not be content with just one musical style at play but moreover a twisted amalgamation of several.

‘Flower Sun Rain’ will no doubt be a tranquil paradise to your ears after the earlier track ‘Shoot!’ turns into distorted guitar noise for some time. But regardless of the clever juxtaposition, ‘Flower Sun Rain’ is a classic mellow rock track, infusing prog and stoner into a slow and passive rhythm, conducted via Atsuo’s vocal talent.

‘Your Point is the Umbrella’ meanwhile turns a completely different direction than all previous tracks, creating a minimalist and haunting almost drone piece, the vocals quietly floating over the music before a long gap preludes the heavy drums and distorted guitar, ripping away the previous tranquillity and replacing it with loud and proud noise.

It’s a shame that Boris, a group who earnestly put in all their effort to avoid a musical label are so often just considered a Japanese doom/ sludge act. And while the group have produced some great doom tracks, it’s not their only expedition into harsh music and anyone who’s a fan of experimental or avant-garde would do well to pick up their great new release (as well as their back catalogue) as much as any metal head out there.