Review Summary: Brace your eardrums...
Album covers are a strange art form. Ranging from simple, mind-imprinting images (like In the Court of the Crimson King
) to overly cluttered visual debacles (such as Iron Maiden's Dance of Death
), they are almost always designed to give the listener an impression of what the band is about and what the music will sound like. As simple as it may be, few covers do that better than Boris's Heavy Rocks
. It's ingredients are just three things: The band name, the album title, and the brightest orange perceptible to the human eye. All you need to know is right there. Boris wants to play music as straightforward as they are capable of doing, and they will play it as loud as possible.
That isn't to say that Boris aren't complicated. Heavy Rocks
is the fourth of 23 full-lengths that the band has put out since their 1996 debut, and they are widely regarded as one of the most eclectic bands in modern music. However, I am of the opinion (and I am not in the majority here) that Boris are at their best when they play simple, fuzzed-out garage/stoner rock at maximum volume with little regard for musical diversity. This is where Heavy Rocks
Songs like "Dyna-Soar" and "Waruride" are the essence of what I'm talking about here. Guitarist Wata's riffs are crunchy and distorted. Drummer Atsuo Mizuno pounds away like Dave Grohl and John Bonham in a fit of rage. Bassist Takeshi Ohtani plods along on the super-low end, while simultaneously yelling his lungs out in Japanese (as if it matters what language he sings in). The band lets up occasionally, like on "Soft Edge," which is a much needed breather as well as a cool little song in its own right. But these moments don't last for very long.
If Boris can be accurately compared to any band on this album, it would have to be sixties proto-metallers Blue Cheer. Aesthetically, Blue Cheer are like Boris in that they are a power trio with a bass-playing frontman. More importantly, both bands are among the most fuzz-drenched, acid-dripping, noisy-ass bands of their respective generations. What Blue Cheer were doing in the late 1960's may sound tame today, but this is the Vincebus Eruptum
of the new millenium. While 2004's Pink
gets far more visibility, it is impossible to enjoy one of the two Boris classics without liking the other. So give your ears a break after listening to Pink
, then go acquire this album ASAP. Just don't stare at it for too long.