Review Summary: The "Year of Boris" continues....Heavy Rocks
is the spiritual successor/follow up to experimental metal band, Boris’ 2002 effort, Heavy Rocks
. Confusing, eh? The nearly identical cover art also does little to satiate this confusion. Well, Boris, a band known to push the envelope, wanted Heavy Rocks (II)
to literally “reinvent heavy music,” a goal the band states they’ve been trying to achieve since their inception. Nine years later, the original Heavy Rocks
is still a bright spot on the band’s expansive catalog, featuring the more accessible, heavy-metal side, as well as their more abstract and fuzzy aesthetics. In some circles, it’s become a classic, with many finding it to be one of, if not the finest album Boris have crafted. In this light, it’s easy to see why Boris would want to re-tread this ground. Thankfully, Boris have expertly emulated their 2002 classic without adhering to heavily to the source material, making Heavy Rocks (II)
a brilliant reimaging, as well as one of their most solid efforts in years.
Heavy Rocks (II
, as one would expect, sounds a hell of a lot like the original. This is in no way a bad thing, with the catchy hooks and crushing fuzz making their triumphant return. All in all, however, it is less heavy than the original, as one can feel the more poppy aspects of their sound seeping through. Being sandwiched between New Album
and Attention Please
, the band’s most pop oriented releases to date, it’s easy to see where this would come from, and to be quite honest, it gives the album its own flavor. You see, Boris have never been one to tread old ground, and if this is any indicator, they’re unwilling to do so even when they’re treading old ground. The ambition is admirable really, even though this release does little to reinvent heavy music. Still, it’s Boris doing what they do, and damn well at that.
And when it’s said that the band “do well”, it is heavily emphasized. The trio has been hailed for their musical creativity, but it all seems trivial when put next to their musical abilities. Atsuo takes the reigns as the predominant vocalist once again, after giving Wata her due time at the mic on New Album
and Attention Please
. Sure, her sultry yet fragile voice has been an excellent change of pace, but it’s nice to have Atsuo’s deep, harsh vocals return. His voice seems made for this music, as his shouts fit the heavy tones perfectly, and his softer side really meshes well with the atmosphere, a la
”Key.” Still, it’s the trio as a collective that really makes Heavy Rocks (II)
as brilliant as it truly is. As musicians, there really isn’t a lot to say about the band—they’re just fine at what they do. Wata is just phenomenal with the guitar, capturing the essence of that hard rock/heavy metal tone with the fast paced frenetic energy of modern hardcore. The copious amounts of fuzz makes it all the more brilliant, with her wild and unpredictable playing giving an insurmountable amount of character to each track. Takeshi gives that beautiful low tone with his bass, of which is perfectly audible at all points in the record. Atsuo, aside from being a fine vocalist, really displays his percussion chops, which are put into the limelight in songs like “Window Shopping.”
Like the original, Heavy Rocks (II)
is an album full of wonderful tracks, all excellent in their own right. The oppressively fuzzy and heavy instrumental piece “Czechoslovakia,” the speedy, upbeat “Galaxians,” and the purely insane rock piece, “Jackson Head” are all examples of what make this varied and unpredicatable record such a joy to listen to over and over again. “Riot Sugar” gives a good indicator as to what is to be expected. Heavy, moderately paced, and dripping with style, the song opens things up absolutely perfectly. However, it’s the two monster tracks “Missing Pieces” and “Aileron” that really steal the show. Each song has a run time of about twelve minutes, literally making them about half of the album’s runtime. “Aileron” is a really cool song, and blends the heavier side of Boris with the more lush side. It’s the album’s longest track, as it moves at a slow and deliberate pace. Yet it’s the album’s middle track, “Missing Pieces,” that will stick with those who hear it. “Missing Pieces” is simply a beautiful track, featuring subdued vocals by Atsuo, as well as a very light and dreamy atmosphere. It meanders about, at times tapping into Boris’ sweeter side, the one found on Rainbow
and New Album
. It erupts about halfway through, becoming a whirlwind of sounds and energy, dissolving into a sporadic and grainy section. It truly is a genius song, and should become an instant favorite for fans; a standout, and the best reason to give the album a listen.
2011 has been kind to Boris, as Heavy Rocks (II)
is yet another excellent release from the band. While it doesn’t accomplish what the band wanted it to, it’s still a fantastic record, and one which should find fans incredibly pleased. The band has been straddling a more accessible sound for years now, and this album sort of dips its feet into both sides of the band’s discography. Still, it’s hard to call this a “return to form,” as Boris haven’t exactly had a “form” to begin with, and Heavy Rocks (II)
is derivative of that. It’s a balls-out fun and enjoyable record, featuring all the hooks, riffs, and twists that one has come to expect from the band. A shining moment in a career that is already so full of them.