Boris Dear Sargent House
Boris’s level of output is extraordinary. Now celebrating their silver jubilee as a functioning outfit, their cache of studio releases is set to peak at 24 (and that’s without counting their surplus of EPs, special editions and collaborative albums). It’s an astounding quantity of material that even the most dogmatic of Boris fans struggle to absorb. But it’s how the Japanese three-piece have always worked. From their 1996 debut Absolutego to last year’s Gensho – a two-part partnership with noise engineer Merzbow – Boris have recorded some of the most enterprising drone and minimalist metal ever to have reached the ears of the mainstream music press.
During Dear’s early stages, the group referred to the album as a “potential farewell note of Boris.” What is presented instead is the band’s most coherent work since their 2005 breakthrough, Pink. This is not to suggest that Dear is their most progressive body of sounds of recent memory. Those hungry for the verbose experimentation of 2015’s Asia, or their ever-formidable collaborative work with Merzbow, or the downtempo guitar oddities of Präparat, may be left starved of the radicalism Boris are more than capable of.
The cataclysmic blitzing of opener D.O.W.N. at first replicates the sustained chordal movements championed by demonic drone scientist Stephen O. Malley, but leads towards the type of audible clemency captured perfectly in Dylan Carlson of Earth’s later compositions. The distorted acrimony of DEADSONG‘s guitar work, the title track’s free-falling percussion, the stoner-ish riffing of Absolutego; the aggression is nuanced and the deceptively poppy sections are disturbing enough to retain the bleaker tropes of heavier metal music. Will this be Boris’s humble letter of resignation? If Dear is anything to go by, it sounds more like a band putting more fuel in the tank rather than acknowledging their creative demise.