The breadth and scope of Boris’ massive discography knows no bounds. Over the years, guitarists Wata and Takeshi and drummer Atsuo have unleashed gloom-glazed stoner rock and paisley psychedelia, teamed-up with noise legend Merzbow, and even closed in on the borders of pop music, in the case of 2011’s New Album. NO, Boris’ generally speedy new full-length, finds the threesome embracing the wonderfully ugly sounds of early Japanese hardcore (something they’ve flirted with in the past), but even that doesn’t ring entirely true. For one, it all begins with “Genesis”, a rhythmic roll of slow-mo chugging and sparse tom-tom thudding more in line with, say, the group’s collaborations with Sunn 0))) than the grimy D-beat of G.I.S.M., Gauze, or Gudon (the latter act is especially important to NO, but let’s get back to that in a bit).
Though it takes 40 seconds of cymbal-crashing pre-amble to get there, “Anti-Gone” quickly ratchets up NO’s bpm. It’s a no-nonsense slab of detuned aggression, growled vocals, and guitar solos that thrive on feel over finesse. “Non Blood Lore” follows in similarly swift fashion, while adding a few melodic vocal touches to the chorus. “Temple of Hatred” is a particularly frenzied onslaught of punk beats and power chords, with a left speaker guitar that sounds as if a stack of speakers was kicked to pieces mid-song.
As a reprieve to the hardcore madness, Boris get back to gloom with “Zerkalo,” where the elastic snap of A flat-tuning is so slack that it threatens to pop Wata and Takeshi’s strings right out of their guitar nuts. It’s a more menacing and melodic crush than “Genesis”—perhaps a little too soon for a breather, but still one of NO’s stronger tracks. The shoegaze-and-hardcore-colliding “HxCxHxC—Parforation Line”, meanwhile, is the highlight, with Atsuo running full-speed against Wata and Takeshi’s overzealously echo-blown, ambient tones. There are also more classically-informed hardcore workouts like “Lust” and “Fundamental Error”, the latter a Gudon cover featuring some extra bendy guitar work from Osaka punk guitarist Katsumi Sugahara (Outo, Salmania). “Kikinoue” is the lone straggler of the bunch, where an on- the-beat-slam doesn’t quite sync up with a positively goofy, Cro-Magnon metal riff.
Contrasting the record’s overall in-your-face mix, “Interlude” is a soothing balm of off-in-the-distance instrumentation and cryptic whisperings from Wata (“I want to go to the side where you can touch…”). There’s something slyly humorous about Boris capping NO with a song called “Interlude,” but it also suggests that the long-running trio are playing the long game. Considering Boris’ prolific pace, yet another LP release is likely just around the corner. How they crack the speakers next is anyone’s guess.
review by Gregory Adams