It’s been twenty-five years since Boris was formed, taking their name from a Melvins song, they have since released a multifarious catalog of music. From the onset, they have run the gamut of ambient, drone, doom, noise, psych, punk, sludge, and shoegaze along with everything else in between, and no one has been able to pull that off as effortlessly as Boris has. They weave their multi-genre magic seamlessly and to great effect on every release. Takeshi Ohtani, Wata, and Atsuo Mizuno have been together since the formation of the band and the chemistry they have still bonds well to this day.
Opener ‘D.O.W.N. – Domination of Waiting Noise’ sets the pace with a powerful and impactful intro of controlled noise with enchanting vocals. ‘Deadsong’ continues along the same path with an electronic drone number that showcases whispered vocals among haunting screams and howls. ‘Absolutego’ may be considered the most accessible song on the record, as it follows a more traditional song structure. You can find the official video for ‘Absolutego’ on YouTube as well.
‘Beyond’ is a highlight of the record as it takes the listener on a roller-coaster tempo ride while vocally, they hit every mark perfectly. ‘Beyond’ segues into ‘Kagero’ where Boris showcases their noise/experimental/dreampop skills with efficacy. Shoegaze-like vocals are featured on ‘Biotope’ with dreamwave and noise components.
Boris brings the doom with ‘The Power’ and ‘Memento Mori.’ Both tracks would irrefutably fit perfectly on any respectable doom record. ‘The Power’ is an instrumental piece that recalls elements of Electric Wizard and Trouble. The vocal tone on ‘Memento Mori’ is damn near perfect to go along with the funeral doom musical melee going on behind it. Certain elements of the song reminiscent of the gloriously classic Italian doom era.
This brings us to ‘Dystopia Vanishing Point.’ To say this has song of the year potential is an understatement. Clocking in at almost twelve minutes, this one will be hard to beat. The song intro is reminiscent of a great soundtrack record. Chino Moreno-like vocals kick in to go along with the slowed down shoegaze vibe followed by an amazing guitar solo that runs the final five-minute leg of the song. The album bookends nicely with “Dear” which hearkens back to the slowed down drone feedback style we heard on ‘D.O.W.N. Domination of Waiting Noise.’
Boris are still going strong after all these years, continually looking for ways to challenge themselves with experimentation. Dear, like most of their albums, is about motion and magnitude. It is without a doubt a spiritual journey and despite the variety of genres explored, it’s still dexterous in its delivery. Thankfully Boris never seems comfortable staying fixated on one single style or genre. They continue to change and explore the dimensions of sound. I think by now it goes without saying that this will undoubtedly make my end of the year top ten list.
Band Members – Chad Alsop-Guitar/Vocals, Andre Cornejo-Guitar/Vocals, Ryley Devine-Drums & Alana Mercer-Bass/Vocals
Previous Releases – “Birds Of Pray” EP (2012) / “Antler Royal” (2013)
Review: Self described with the tags ‘metal, noise, punk, sludge, hardcore, stoner’, this is the second full-length release from this four piece and has been a while coming. Emerging from what they describe as a place that is “8 hours away from everything, isolated in their winter city” they had already started touring Canada promoting the first release that was garnering play on college stations leading to recording the first full-length in early 2013. Touring steadily, this release signifies their dedication to their craft and commitment to doing what they do best… to be, as they themselves put it, ‘Catchy and Crushing’ all at once.
Seven tracks totaling 32 minutes, there is little doubt from the first power chord riff of ‘An Awkward Moan’ through to the narration filled ending of ‘Maple Ape’ that this band has paid it’s dues and is ready for more and they come out swinging from the first to the last.
The ripping beginning of ‘Blood Staff’ with all the angst you could possibly imagine to even faster paced ‘Tarred and Feathered’ with that pure fury that had been hinted at on the previous releases and left to shine through on this album. Even as ‘Garrulous’ has a slow fade in that fury-driven pace and raw edge is back in less than 30 seconds into the track and is as unrelenting as any other moment on this disc as ‘False Negative’ shows, brutal as fuck!!
‘The Skinning’ is equally frenetic in approach and execution and prove that DEAD RANCH are a force to be reckoned with. ‘Maple Ape’ is the bookend on this album and while filled with as many time shifts and fretboard-flying as the previous tracks, this one stands above the rest with this demonstration of just how musically ‘tight’ they are and let us know this album is well worth the wait we have endured in anticipation. Buy it NOW, share it with EVERY pair of ears you can and support them live if they come anywhere close… and above all else, keep it LOUD!!
RED BEARD WALL Self-Titled – CD//DD Argonauta Records – Release Date May 12th, 2017 Reviewed By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker
We all know how things are done down Texas way, don’t we? Everything is blown up and bigger than life, done up right in a massive way or it isn’t done at all. That philosophical application seems to also be the mission statement of the newest release from the Lone Star State’s Red Beard Wall. The 9-song self-titled effort will be released through Argonauta Recordson May 12th and it very well might change the whole game of how music fans view Post-Rock. Of course I label said record as ‘Post-Rock’ but truth is, there is a shit-ton lot more going on in this thing, everything from Noise Rock to Sludge to Grunge and Alternative, just to name a few.
Red Beard Wall has been a true labor of love for the duo currently behind the wall itself, vocalist/guitarist Aaron Wall and drummer George Trujillo. It has been a little over a year now since RBW issued the 3-song self-titled Demo back in ’16 and in that time, the guys have really perfected their sound. You really have no clue what to expect as the feedback-ringing intro of first cut ‘Beauty In‘ heralds the arrival of downtuned riffs and slamming kit-work. Quickly a groove is found and explored to the hilt with a little mid-tempo flare at hand and there it remains for the duration of this instrumental introduction. Exiting out with some more feedback and then, before you know it, the explosive ‘I Am‘ takes over. Reminiscent of some Nineties’ era Pacific Northwest grunge bands, the track is a lulling foray into a bit of hazy alt. rock. The juxtaposing vocal styles, one minute clean and melodic, the next screaming and angst-y, remind you there’s an aspect of aggression ever-present beneath the surface. Intensity comes soaring inward with several of the other songs here too, ones like ‘Switching Circuits‘ and ‘Bottom Of A Well‘ (streaming below) are constructed on controlled aggression. They’re fluid and manage to touch all the bases when it comes to melding multiple styles together with strength and cohesion.
For me personally, I really took to the middle segment of the record especially the triple threat of ‘Alive‘, ‘Born With A Hammer‘ and ‘Top Of The Mountain‘. ‘Alive‘ has a very carefree or uplifting quality about it, very groove-oriented but with a lighter vibe permeating its playing time. It repeatedly brings to mind Local H for me..and that is a damn good quality if you ask me. On the opposite side of that spectrum is the pummeling ‘Top of The Mountain‘, a volatile cut that rides the rhythmic rails straight to the pinnacle of Mt. Anger. Things begin to crest with the hypnotic lyrical rhymes that narrate the next to last track, ‘March In Time‘. It has a Southern Metal-meets-Satanic-Surf Rock type of content, not to mention its very own take on an abrasive breakdown about mid-way through. Things come full circle with the ending track ‘Beauty Out‘, a reprise of the instrumental start that kicked off this aural trek. The gravity-generating grooves pull you back down into place as you begin to stumble from the stupor of what you’ve just listened to.
I won’t try to bullshit you or lay a bunch of undue hype on you here because, truth is, Red Beard Wall is somewhat minimalist in nature. It’s a bit stripped down and as such, it refuses to rely on a bunch of razzle-dazzle studio trickery to make you think you’re hearing something you actually aren’t. No, instead it, and the duo themselves, just lay all their cards out in front of you and ask you to check them out. They don’t need sleight of hand tricks placed within their audio gamble because they are confident they’ve covered the spread and in truth, they have.
Twin Earth Records brings us their offering from Heavy Traffic that was purportedly recorded “live to tape” over the course of a March 2016 weekend. Ian Caddick and Tav Palumbo had recorded five albums of material in the two years previous to moving to Brooklyn, New York in 2015, intent on putting a band together to focus on playing live. Two months later this was the result.
First thing I gotta say is the vocal mix is a little too over-saturated and echoplexed to be able catch most of the lyric content on first listen. Leaning heavy on psych rock, combining elements of noise, doom, punk, and shoegaze, most of the songs move along at a tempered slower pace until “Three Stigmata” when the staccato mixes with fills galore lending to a faster pace and listenability that has been missing until. “Medicated Bed” also has a faster pace complete with guitar solos brought into the forefront making this the one I kept going back to as the standout. The bonus song with the release seemingly reflects on two members referred to as White and Green on the band’s Facebook page, presumably Ian and Tav, clocking in as one of the longest songs offered and goes back to the slower tempoed stoner tromp of the first half of this record. The track listing needs to have a smoother flow in and out as they demonstrated they could do with “Acid Sweater” running smooth as glass into “Broth Drain”. We’ll see with the progression of these guys. If they are as prolific as reported, this should be the first of much to come and I hope the polishing continues until it is refined as they find the balance in the vocal mix so the words conveyed are easier grabbed. Seeing Heavy Traffic Live would be the venue to get the full affect in my opinion of this solid debut on Twin Earth Records. If you like your Traffic “Heavy,” this is release is for you!