Experimental noise rock trio Boris formed in Japan in the early '90s by vocalist/drummer Atsuo, bassist Takeshi, and vocalist/guitarist Wata. Initially resembling the kind of molasses paced, heavy grind of the Melvins song from which the group took its name, early records raised the bar for formless, though spectacularly majestic droning soundscapes of placid beauty pitted against blown out speaker garage metal jams. Challenging, for sure, but ultimately thrilling for those inclined. 2005's Akuma No Uta was a peak of the band's early style, which in totality presented a psychotic flipside to Sigur Rós' one-note symphonies.

In the latter half of the decade, through an increasingly prolific release schedule, Boris emphasized the minimalism inherent in previous works by expanding it into the realms of La Monte Young's straight line compositional style, though streamlining the running length from six-hour avant-garde classical pieces into one.

The band reached its peak of market saturation with four records released in 2011 alone, each exploring various aspects of Boris' ongoing progression into different forms of metal, shoegaze, and further excursions into the realms of pure noise and its accompanying, sometimes meditative, overtones.

In 2014, the abrasively refined Noise was released, summing up almost 20 years and nearly as many records from this startling and rewarding act.


Although later albums would veer slightly more into (relatively) commercial territory, it's fair to say that Boris fans aren't looking for traditional rock or metal. So that leaves Akuma No Uta as an excellent introduction, comprising most of the different directions this band had already taken—and would later take to new levels. Bracing and screeching feedback underpinned by plateaus of serenity followed by short MC5 blasts with sections of pastoral folk make this record definitive.

For those interested in the outer limits of mental illness, the single track, one-hour long instrumental album Sun Baked Snow Cave should leave you dead inside.


"Ghost of Romance," from this year's Noise, is a rollercoaster of over-amplified autodestruction, with rockets of sound divorced from actual notes raining down like a 21st century addendum to Jimi Hendrix' "Machine Gun."

"Ibitsu," from 2005's Atkuma No Uta is an indelible and visceral rocker while "Flood II," released the same year on Flood, is one of the most desolate, funereal tracks recorded this side of Iceland.

More by Joshua Levine


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