Legendary noise masters Boris dig back into drone, let dreams haunt on swelling ‘LφVE & EVφL’

Photo by Miki Matsushima

We haven’t dug into the pro wrestling references in a few days, so here goes: Chris Jericho is a dude who is known for changing his character every time he returns from an extended period away. Even at nearly 50, he’s still reshaping himself, which keeps him engaged with his work and gives the fans something to new to get into with every one of his runs.

If there’s a metal Jericho, it’s Japanese trio Boris, who have yet to make a single record that sounds like any of their other ones. They’ve also been insanely prolific over their time together, which is closing in on 30 years, and it’s often difficult to put a number on the amount of records are on their resume. I’ve seen their new album “LφVE & EVφL” called their 24th, but no matter what number it is, it’s another record that keeps you guessing, and it’s one that bears many spots and stripes. First, we haven’t heard Boris this deep back into drone in many years, and while it digs into the atmosphere of albums such as “Amplifier Worship” or “Akuma No Uta,” it doesn’t feel like retread at all. The music is fresh and brimming with lava, making it a really exciting listen. But the band—Takeshi (vocals, bass, guitars), Wata (vocals, guitar, echo), Atsuo (drums, vocals, electronics)—also delves heavily into dreamier territory, showing shades of vulnerability that balance out the quaking chaos elsewhere.

“Away From You” starts the record, and it’s a gazey, melting ballad that starts to trickle slowly before heading into dreamland. Breathy, softer singing emerges, spilling over the chorus, with the title repeated to work its way into your brain. Clouds then burst, letting the energy shower the ground, as the calls of, “I’ll never return,” wash out in a trance. “Coma” is the first heavy dose of drone, pulling you back into their formative days yet through a modern wormhole. Spacey rumbling ramps up, with the noise feeling thick enough to block out the sun, and then a storm begins brewing in your mind. The track works its way into the murk before slowly disintegrating. “EVOL” is the longest cut here, running 16:29 and letting light emerge and unleash a drone fog. The drumming kicks in, giving the song a tribal feel before the first heavy punches are landed, and then a sense of calm sinks in along with softer singing. Leads then catch fire and burst as the soloing flexes its muscles, as the intensity keeps pouring. Strange leads and melodies and rawer singing combine, while the noise is amplified, and strange noises end up spiraling into the unknown.

“Uzume” has drone cutting through bone, crushing and pulsating, creating stress in your muscles. The playing chews up ground as fuzz and volume combine, and the music streams into your central nervous system. Subtle riffs inject power and energy, leaving things off abruptly, with you wondering what hit you. “Love” has burly riffs stomping away with metallic wave of chrome washing up and leaving splinters along the shore. Stoner-style guitar work arrives, as the vocals swim in chaos, and suddenly everything feels utterly fucked up. Psychedelic smashing and slurry singing then walk into a wall of static guitars that bring about the song’s destruction. “In the Pain(t)” is a shorter cut that quivers and is reflective, floating along and merging with outdoorsy noises, leading to finale “Shadow of Skull” that unfurls its drone monster tentacles. Weird growls mix with singing, paving the way for primal noises, with the music slowly boiling in its juices. The emotion builds as things crash down around everything, howls and screams explode, and it feels like the center of demonic possession. That caused the pillars of the Earth to break into rocks and dust, hammering the ground below and bringing everything to a fiery end.

Boris’ chameleon act has lasted nearly three decades now, and that’s not about to stop, with “LφVE & EVφL” as the only evidence you need to prove that fact. While this record surely will make long-time drone heads who pined for their earlier days as happy as they’ve been in a while, it also has current flourishes and other nuances they’ve picked up along the way. The mighty Boris punish the land all over again, an all-reformed beast that’s still one of the mightiest and mercilessly loud bands alive.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/borisheavyrocks/

To buy the album, go here: https://thirdmanstore.com

For more on the label, go here: https://thirdmanrecords.com/