Album Review: Boris – Heavy Rocks (2022)


One thing you can always count on from Boris: They keep their fans on their toes. Their new album, Heavy Rocks, is the third in their vast catalog with that name, following the other two that came in 2002 and 2011. It also follows the ambient and ethereal sounds of W from earlier this year, which in itself followed the hardcore punk battering of NO.

So, what do we get with the third installment of Heavy Rocks? Well, like the other two installments, we get, “heavy rock,” with some side trips to artsy avant metal, along with blasts of saxophone to just to keep things a bit interesting.  So, for all intents and purposes, it’s another “rock” album by the band, but filtered through their own unique vision.

The album opens with the fast, scorching metal-punk of “She Is Burning,” which blasts right out of the gate, with lacerating riffs, battering drums, and, yes, a saxophone. There are also manic lead work from Wata. It’s all very over the top and excellent. Basically, this song sets the pace for most of what goes on throughout the rest of the album.

From there, “Cramper” continues down the path by the album’s opener, delivering more uptempo, metal punk. The first curveball comes in the form of  “Blah Blah Blah,” which starts out with sax skronks, supported by a fuzzed out bass, and then gets all ghostly, ethereal, and psychedelic. It’s quite the contrast from the first two songs.

“Question 1” starts out fast, before doing a brief doomy breakdown, then going fast again, and then it gets slow, low, and psychedelic before throwing in a bit of the doom and finishing off the same way it started, repeating the guitar riff and pace from the opening parts of the song. It really takes you on a journey.

“Nosferatou” is another curveball in that it showcases the band’s drone side. Feedback squalls of guitars play while drums skitter in the background. To this they add more saxophone and ghostly moans. It gets loud and doomy at one point before ending in drone territory with saxophone.

“Ruins” is a ripping metal/punk song that keeps the pace and guitars in the red throughout its duration. It’s the most straight up “hardcore punk” song on the album, while “Ghostly Intervention” has  blast beats (or D-beats), and just goes fast, until it’s a doomy breakdown, for a few seconds, before upping the speed and finishing in the red.

The album closer, “(Not) Last Song,” ends the album album on a healing note. It features piano and static hiss along with low, almost whispered vocals, and very much feels like the comedown after all the sturm and drang of the rest of the album. One can bet that this song will set the tone for the opener of the next album from this prolific band.

Heavy Rocks (2022) is one wild ride that delivers exactly what it promises—heavy rock, along with taking a few side trips into their experimental pastures. It’s quite the trip. People who like their more straight-up rock records like Smile, Pink or NO will find much to like here. Fans of the band’s more experimental side, like the drone albums or collaborations with Merzbow, might not like this as much. Still, you have to hand it to a band this far in their career that are willing to keep changing, growing, and not becoming static.

Buy the album here.

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