BORIS: NOISE (2014)
1) Melody; 2) Vanilla; 3) Ghost Of Romance; 4) Heavy Rain; 5) Taiyo-no Baka; 6) Angel; 7) Quicksilver; 8) Siesta.
Press release information: «Their most all-encompassing effort to date. It is an amplification of Boris’ endless pursuit of musical extremes while moving aggressive, intense rock into new territories. Here, the band masterfully intermingles sludge-rock, blistering crust punk, shimmering shoegaze, epic thunderous doom, psychedelic melodies and just about everything else they’ve ever done. In writing , BORIS was intent upon condensing all that the band had explored over the years, in order to create something more bold, streamlined and powerful. And, upon completion, the band considers its most defining effort.»
As you can already tell, the omens are not good. Usually, when a band itself declares that album so-and-so is its «most defining effort», this means a desperate PR effort to predetermine the listener's attitude — surely, if the band members themselves say so, it must be right. Fortunately, I only discovered the press release after subjecting myself to several listens, throughout which I only found the record boring; had I known about these superlatives early on, I might have thought of it as hideous. To state that Noise is «moving aggressive, intense rock into new territories» makes even less sense than stating that America was discovered by Bob Dylan in his 115th dream. This is standard late-period Boris — the band that has long since moved away from its semi-original sound and is now largely making its living with a synthesis of metal, shoegaze, noise, and ambient psychedelia, nothing whatsoever about which could be considered a «new direction». On the contrary, if anything, Boris are getting more and more «retro» with each new outing.
And this outing, unfortunately, is far from their best one: I have not been able to discern even one interesting track anywhere on here. As usual, there are good guitar tones, plenty of energy, and, indeed, quite a bit of stylistic variety, but nothing is done here that could even vaguely pique my interest. Take ʽQuicksilverʼ, for instance, the first track off the album to be freely streamed: seven minutes of «speedcore» whose only value is... speed. Awful singing, dull riffage, flashy soulless soloing — this music is not evil, or scary, or angry, it is just... speedy. Or ʽHeavy Rainʼ, sung much better by Wata, but utilizing such predictable «doom-laden» chords that not even the extra heaviness can save the song from... okay, I'm repeating myself.
This is really unbearable because I'd actually like to like this — they are obviously trying to be artsy and accessible at the same time, but this post-rock vibe is just killing them: the 18-minute ʽAngelʼ is such a blatant (and incompetent) rip-off of some Godspeed You! Black Emperor epic that it makes me want to scream out loud — for Amaterasu's sake, guys, you've been going at this for almost twenty years now, how come with each new album you are becoming less and less original? You had that thing about feedback which was more or less your own schtick — now you have completely abandoned it to focus on these third-rate imitations?
Everything here is just one large exercise in soulless, hookless mannerism, so it's pretty sad news (but predictable perhaps) that they would consider this their «defining effort». Naturally, you do not have to take my word for it, but please do not listen to this album without being able to place it in its proper context — you owe that much to people like GY!BE, or My Bloody Valentine, or even Radiohead (did I mention the heavy debt that ʽGhost Of Romanceʼ owes to OK Computer?) who actually defined how «artsy» music would sound in the modern age before Boris came along and decided, for some reason, that they could do just as well, and that they could be justified in not writing good melodies as long as they could combine all this into one melting pot, where you mix pickles with apple jam and goat cheese with dark chocolate. And don't even trust the album title — because this album is not Noise. It's just Nonsense, and the rating is a certified thumbs down.