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Boris - Boris At Last - Feedbacker / Live At Shimokitazawa Shelter DVD

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Artist: Boris

Album: Boris At Last - Feedbacker / Live At Shimokitazawa Shelter DVD

Label: Diwphalanx

Review date: Mar. 15, 2004

Boris are the only living band (with the possible exception of Electric Wizard) who have mastered the art of out-Sabbathing Black Sabbath. Obviously, a ton of groups play in that crushing, occult style, and many do it quite competently, but only Boris have been able to consistently break on through that wall of rock into the experimental wasteland that lies beyond. And, once there, they thrive.

Of course, like the inescapable Melvins allusion of their band name, Boris are never more than a power chord away from heavy ’70s sludge fuzz, and that’s important to remember because their elemental intensity has a lot more to do with presentation and execution than writing the perfect riff, a point driven home with electric clarity on their latest slab of magma music, Boris At Last - Feedbacker.

A single 43-minute composition (broken into five tracks for easier access), Feedbacker begins at the core, with ambient waves of Earth-like drones rippling across an otherwise silent nine minute expanse before Atsuo spills into his cymbals, commencing a funereal march. Bassist/vocalist Takeshi drawls up and down his double-necked bass while Wata (the femme fatale guitarist) curls out little tongues of blue flame, the band awash in anticipatory shimmer.

Vocals are always a “less is more” matter with Boris, so when Takeshi finally howls out a few stanzas in long, mournful wails 23 minutes into the recording, it’s a sign the fuse is lit. Wata arcs her echoing feedback up and holds it in a piercing squeal, the drums go half time, the bass grinds like a bulldozer (loosening the tectonic plates), and then, at last, they all explode into a thrashing frenzy of power and white fire. The song churns and burns like lava until, abruptly, the drums stutter, crash, and everything dissolves into a lonely, fluttering screech, like loud amps left on and abandoned. This is the sound of Boris basking in the wreckage of their rock.

Fans of Boris’ metal mayhem won’t be disappointed, but in truth Feedbacker is a more pensive, reflective release, closer to Flood than Amplifier Worship, and a step further away from their rock heritage. They pray at different electric altars than they once did, moving from Ozzy to Keiji, and they have no reason to look back. Here’s to hoping they never do.

Sadly, Boris never tour outside Japan. But happily there is now a sort of surrogate show, the Live At Shimokitazawa Shelter DVD, which captures a night on their 2003 Black Summer tour. Fans flash devil signs as Boris burn through a set of songs mostly from Heavy Rocks and Akuma No Uta. Certain visual elements are particularly stunning: the speed with which Takeshi’s fingers fly around his double-necked bass; how cute Wata is despite the monolithic heft of the stoner riffs she shreds out, backed by menacing stacks of Orange amplifiers. Naturally, their rock dynamics are more dominant live than on record, but they still exhibit plenty of awesome patience and subtlety.

The concert is followed by four music videos – two songs from each of the aforementioned albums – and they’re all decent, though the visuals are definitely secondary to the music. The images range from the band standing around in a white room to frenetic, scrawled animation. This will probably be more of interest to fanatics than first-timers, but it’s still a rare rush getting to see the faces and fretboards behind Japan’s most powerful power trio.

By Britt Brown

Other Reviews of Boris

Akuma No Uta



Attention Please / Heavy Rocks

Read More

View all articles by Britt Brown

Find out more about Diwphalanx

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