Boris- W

by | Jan 26, 2022 | Reviews



Ah, the many sides of Boris. Many of us fell in love with the Japanese trio for their brain-rattling, bowel-shaking, ungodly guitar tones and riffs. Led by guitar hero, Wata—usually positioned in front of an impressive skyline of Orange amplifier stacks—Boris shows are often aurally overwhelming experiences. But on the heels of their 2020 thrash-focused excursion, NO, Boris emphasizes the more ambient and hazy sides of their sound on the intriguing new record, W.


The band says NO and W are intended to be companion albums, with the overarching title, NOW. The aggression of NO gives way to more subdued sounds on initial third of W. “I Want to Go to the Side Where You Can Touch…” opens the record. Wata’s hushed vocals whisper over booming drums and various droning and feedbacking guitars before stopping abruptly. “Icelina” then quietly tiptoes in with shimmering guitars and electronic synth and percussion treatments. Wata’s vocals remain hushed but clearer atop the softer musical bed. Her guitars stay subtle on the goth/industrial “Drowning by Numbers.” Takeshi’s bass and Atsuo’s drums move to the fore, providing a bit of funk and a bit of glitch. 


It’s not til the fifth song, nearly halfway through W, that we get a barrage of Boris-style downtuned riffage. The instrumental “The Fallen” does not disappoint. An intro dirge of heavy sludge segues into more propulsive chugging, then to a final slow-motion explosion of big drums and deconstructed guitar. 


W continues its exploration of dynamics and subtlety with the lullabye, “Beyond Good and Evil,” featuring beautifully executed soft/loud dynamics. “Old Projector” is a spooky instrumental with EVOL-era Sonic Youth atmosphere that evokes a sort of zombie spaghetti western. From there, the band veers into a pounding doom outro before the song stops abruptly. 


Boris saves its most expansive statement for near-last with the hypnotic “You Will Know (Ohayo Version).” Takeshi and Atsuo leave wide spaces for Wata’s distant guitar noise and soft vocals. The drums go silent as the band envelopes the tune in more atmospherics of guitars, electronics, synths, and possible accordion? (The liner notes say Wata plays accordion on the record, but I haven’t definitively found where.) “You Will Know” fades out to a brief ambient vignette “Jozan” that closes the album.


It’s nearly impossible to disentangle music creation of the past two-plus years from the backdrop of the global pandemic. If NO was a blistering sonic statement of the frustration and despair of the early days of COVID-19, W mostly aims to soothe some nerves, albeit with the occasional outburst. It reminds us that these are incredibly challenging times for people all over the planet and that many of us have reacted and navigated the times similarly regardless of our where we live. Though it might soon become cliché for bands to put out their “COVID records,” their musical statements of a scary and bizarre time, it’s only helpful to be reminded that this has affected everyone everywhere. If that can’t unite us as a global species, what can?


is out now via Sacred Bones Records and available on all major streaming platforms.

Help support independent journalism, donate to FTA