Review Summary: Boris at their most inspired since Pink.
Though I would definitely hesitate to call them "uninspired", recent albums like Heavy Rocks II
and last year's Präparat
showed that Boris were in something of a transitional phase of their twenty-year musical career, with their newer work trying to find a balance between drone, stoner metal, shoegaze, pop, and the numerous other styles the band have explored. This led to an often inconsistent experience, which is why Noise
, their nineteenth studio album, comes as something of a surprise; the band sounds more inspired here than they have since 2005's Pink
The group's gift for balancing ethereal melodies with crushing, droning metal is apparent on the aptly-named opener "Melody", and this is the sound that the trio pursue for most of the album, a comfortable medium between their drone metal sound and the shoegaze/pop influences that have cropped up in their recent work. But, of course, they throw in a few curveballs, like "Taiyo no Baka", probably the catchiest and most upbeat thing they've ever done, while the epic "Quicksilver" is almost a tour-de-force of their discography, with the crust influences of their earliest work and the crushing sludginess of albums like Amplifier Worship
on full display. This shows a mature band applying the songwriting craft they have developed throughout their career to great effect. The band's press release has called this their "most all-encompassing release to date" for good reason.
As expected of a Boris album, this is a head trip of hazy guitar riffs and buried melodies that slowly reveal themselves to the listener, whether they go for slow buildups like the almost 20-minute dirge "Angel" or go straight for the throat like the aforementioned "Quicksilver", the album's sound refuses to conform to a conventional genre mold. The chemistry between the band members is obviously in top form, showing the lessons that the band has learned in over two decades of playing together. All of this might sound like a "safe" release, and while you could argue that they don't anything new here when looked at from the perspective of their previous work, every section flows into the next almost perfectly, despite individual songs perhaps being stronger than the album as a whole. And, really, there is nothing wrong with a band playing to their strengths at this point in their career.
This is an exciting release that sees one of the most interesting bands in metal at their most inspired in years. This is also a great introduction to the group's extensive discography, as it shows glimpses of the various styles they've explored, while retaining a cohesive sound and atmosphere. Of course, where they will go from here is anyone's guess.