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Boris - Akuma No Uta

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Artist: Boris

Album: Akuma No Uta

Label: Southern Lord

Review date: Jun. 15, 2005

The mighty Boris return with their latest delivery of blissfully heavy rock. The 40 minutes of Akuma No Uta may offer the widest range of any Boris release, making this perhaps the best introduction to the band for those who haven't yet taken the plunge. The six songs span 40 minutes total, which is actually a very reasonable length given the depth and heaviness here. Any more might just be wasted on us all.

The aptly-titled "Intro" is a full 10 minutes long, starting things off with a beautiful slow-motion crunchy riff, all low-end fuzz that ebbs and flows at a glacial pace. A higher siren call fades in slowly, piercing through the dense gloom until clouds of crackling sound infiltrate, then fade away, then return until amp hum threatens to take over and suddenly we're in the next song, "Ibitsu," an intense three minutes of crashing fuzz-rock with a Mudhoney vibe if there were three Mudhoneys playing simultaneously. Slamming drums, screaming guitars, and Iggy-on-speed vocals. "Furi" follows with, generally, more of the same. This is the one song on here which seems a bit redundant; not that it's bad, not at all, but it doesn't quite stand out amidst its brethren.

"Naki Kyoku" is the mountain in the middle of this album, a 12-minute journey through a complete vocabulary of psychedelia. Slow, pretty reverbed guitar leads us into a kraut groove dominated by a flowing, never-ending lead. The guitar unexpectedly turns clean, while Echoplex textures wobble in the background before we're pulled down into a maelstrom of blazing guitar, crashing drums, and impassioned vocals.

I can see some Boris fans puzzling about the relative lightness of "Naki Kyoku" but hopefully open minds will prevail and they'll see it for the complete picture it is. The song isn't simply 12 minutes of sections tacked together – there's a cohesion to it, as elements enter while others fade away, and it's all pinned together by the guitar. From the start to the end, it's all aiming for the big blowout, and the band delivers as promised – it's all worth the wait, which isn't something you can say about every 12-minute song.

After that, "Ano Onna No Onryou" and the title track take us through more massive riffing. From an ideal combination of psych overload and plain old rock, essential air guitar material, to slow-motion sludge that pulls the rug out from under you as it transforms into headbanging high gear, the album finishes on a very strong note.

These 40 minutes include both peaks and valleys, glacial drone and high-speed riffing, together with unexpected moments of beauty and spacious grooves.

By Mason Jones

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