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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Boris' unique metal is miles of 'Smiles'

If you haven't heard Boris yet, make doing so No. 1 on your to-do list. This Japanese three-piece boasts mastery of a number of genres, including but not limited to punk rock, psychedelic rock, many metal varieties, ambient, and a number of sounds that have yet to be (or may never be) classified. Indeed, the one lasting tag you can attach to this band is superhuman."" 


Outside of sheer genius songwriting, Boris' strength lies in its guitars. The skills of the band's main guitarist goes by the name Wata, and her skills are unmatched. With a little help from frontman/guitarist/bassist Takeshi and drummer Atsuo, Boris can flatten monuments with crushing riffs during masses of amplifier worship, kick out righteous and seething rock jams and delicately articulate heavenly sonic paintings of peace and beauty - sometimes all in the same track.  


The band's newest album, _Smile_, has a decreased emphasis on meditative heaviness and creates a sort of rock/noise hybrid. One track where of this sound works especially well is the ""Laser Beam."" After an angry drum warm-up and a brief but searing guitar solo, the song explodes into an overdriven punk assault. The combination of Wata's bestial guitar tone and atmospheric noise make for an acidic soundscape that brilliantly complements the song's urgent pace and Takeshi's vocals. 


One of the best songs on this album is ""My Neighbor Satan."" Somber, melting guitar notes make a heavenly atmosphere, while buzzing distortion and quick drums lurk quietly in the background. Takeshi sings a melancholic but catchy verse until it's devoured in a wah-driven, unbelievably heavy jam session. The band's ability to switch from the heaviest-sounding band in the world to the prettiest-sounding is more than impressive.  


""Ka Re Ha Te Ta Sa Ki - o No One Grieve"" is the other album highlight. The song begins with the ultra-heavy, ambient droning sound that initially made Boris huge in the underground. At around the 1:30 mark, the track just goes nuts. Takeshi's faraway howls are drowned out in a series of Wata's mind-bending solos, while Atsuo drums so fiercely that he produces a sound not unlike static. The resulting atmosphere is otherworldly. The song is like skydiving into a tornado as the Jimi Hendrix Experience blares throughout the skies. Crazy. 


It's difficult to say where _Smile_ ranks in relation to Boris' other albums. Not only because they are so consistently good, but because they've released fourteen studio albums since 1996 and are collaborators on at least four others. That's a lot of awesomeness to choose from. Just know that _Smile_ will be one of the better albums you hear this year, or any other for that matter. This band has no peer. 

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