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Boris has no real rule book to abide by expect remaining heavy, I suppose.

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Album Review: BORIS Dear

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Boris is a bit flexible. Drone, rock, grunge, pop, hardcore/punk, doom, sludge, shoegaze, noise… along with splits with heavy hitters like Sunn O))) and Merzbow, they’re just not a band that says “no” to expanding or exploring their capacity. And it’s quite a thing to not sound generic or like one is trying too hard when going on such sonic expeditions. But they manage it, for better or worse in the ears of the listeners.

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So, you know walking into Dear that you can expect the unexpected. Boris has no real rule book to abide by except remaining heavy, I suppose. Well, mission accomplished on that front. But keep in mind that despite Boris being able to prove they can do just about anything they set their minds to, that doesn’t mean it always turns out for the best. Sure, they wrote Pink and Absolutego, but there’s also albums like Attention Please, which were good but not spectacular.

Dear is an album that is back to the heavier, noisier sound. Tracks are slow, brooding, melodic and noise-riddled. Opener “D.O.W.N. -Domination of Waiting Noise-" is about as slow as they come too, with a tempo that could be measured in BPH. The drums get active, the noise is there and the guitars hum over it all. The vocals harmonize and drone with the instruments. Things get crackly, but it remains drone once the track gets in to about the ninety-second mark. And, actually, that’s kinda Dear in a nutshell. Heavy as hell drone, but mixed with some rock’n’roll.

It’s not the first time Boris has mostly focused on one sound. Absolutego is an incredible piece of amp worship/drone that holds its hour-long intensity. Dear is a different kind of beast though, and can’t quite hold up. Oh sure, track three is another version of “Absolutego” that picks up the pace of the album, getting things moving in a more energetic direction that evokes some of the rock urgency of Noise. It keeps to the doom-ier pace and really brings the album up for a few minutes, however it does slow down to a crushing crawl later on.

The problem with Dear is that it falls back on drone tendency too much. So much so that its 70-minute run time becomes a blur of slowness. When things pick up, it just never feels like it’s enough. Tracks like “Kagero” or “Beyond” have good moments of build, but their run times are long and their build either takes too long, is too slow, or their best parts are overstated. “Kagero” is slow. It’s a heavy build to more heaviness. It sounds great but it never feels like it amounts to much. Meanwhile, “Beyond” also has a build of drone to more uplifted, louder, rockier section with wailing guitars. A snapping point is what’s badly missing throughout. Something that rattles the listener to the core and makes their skin shutter.

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Maybe for Boris, this is an album that traverses too much of a comfort zone. There are moments of stark beauty like in "Dystopia -Vanishing Point-", but it takes seven-minutes to get there. It’s mostly slow and relies on heaviness, and that’s fine when the riffs can carry it. But it seldom manages to really build something nerve shattering. “Memento Mori”, I would argue, is an example of a track on Dear that really goes above and beyond, and is an excellent exception to what much of the album is. Which is, unfortunately, boring. Dear is an album I want to love, but I just can’t.

Score: 6/10

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