- Year 2017
- Genre DoomDroneexperimentalHeavy RockShoegaze
- Country Japan
- Label Sargent House
- Rating Solid
Over the course of twenty-five years, Boris has been impossible to predict. While their better known works span between drone, doom, and rock, combing through their expansive discography and limited releases will showcase a band that’s regularly transformed and challenged themselves to try something different. Even this far into their career, the Japanese trio has been able to shock listeners with sudden explorations into dream pop and shoegaze that still put a unique spin on their chosen genre. In between all of this experimentation it hasn’t been uncommon for Boris to suddenly release an album that pulls many of these different styles together, and that’s exactly what they’ve done on this year’s ‘Dear’.
The Power in particular is a perfect example, as each note lumbers forth with precision and spreads outwards in a way that encompasses the listener in a dense wall of sound
Like the majority of their discography, this is an album that will take a good deal of time to fully absorb. Even when they’ve moved towards mellower hooks and pop sensibilities, Boris has always maintained a sense of depth and exploration that isn’t always apparent during that first listen. This is once again the case on ‘Dear’, as the first time through your attention is likely to be focused on how much of the material is focused on the low end of the spectrum. For those that have preferred the amplifier worship oriented version of the band, with slow, stretched out riffs that move between heavy rock, doom, and drone, ‘Dear’ is for you. The Power in particular is a perfect example, as each note lumbers forth with precision and spreads outwards in a way that encompasses the listener in a dense wall of sound. Lumbering is actually a pretty good description for quite a few of the songs, as the pacing favors much slower paces and straddles the line between doom and drone quite often. But that’s not all that the album has to offer, and this is where spending additional time with the material really pays off. Songs like Beyond and Biotope utilize softer melodies, with the former letting airier sparse instrumentation build-up to a soaring climax and the latter incorporating a driving beat that’s reminiscent of some of the ideas from ‘New Album’ and ‘Attention Please’. The shifts between ground shaking, heavy riffing and softer melodies is seamless, resulting in an album that initially seems to be firmly entrenched in one direction but branches off onto several unexpected paths.
With all three members of Boris once again contributing vocals, the range of pitches utilized on ‘Dear’ is almost as diverse as the instrumentation. This is something that has always drawn me to the band on previous releases, and while some of the cleaner singing ranges have been an acquired taste before here they are stronger than ever. Some moments adopt a gruffer pitch that is reminiscent of some of the more rock-centric songs from ‘Pink’, while others mellow out significantly and draw you in with the softness of each word. Beyond is a highlight in particular, as Wata’s ethereal singing gives way to soaring vocal lines around the three quarter mark that fully encompass the listener. There are even a few harsh pitches during some of the heaviest, metal leaning moments, which may just catch you by surprise the first time through.
‘Dear’ finds Boris heading back towards some of the extremely heavy and slow instrumentation of their earlier years, but the softer experimentation and unexpected changes in direction from other points in their discography have been seamlessly woven in. There are some songs that run a bit long and may try the patience of some listeners, but that’s not unusual for this trio and long-time fans are likely to expect that to a degree. With that being said, there’s a lot to dig into throughout these ten songs and those that have been drawn in by the band in the past or have an appreciation for sprawling doom and heavy rock with an experimental flair will want to spend some in-depth time with this album.