Review Summary: Musical heartburns are likely to occur, but if you can pass the noisiness, Vein (Hardcore Version) is pretty fun album to dive into.
The Japanese “rock band with many faces” Boris has dared to take many leaps of faith from the very beginning to tell that they are not about one direction or mood. This has also created a mentality for their fans to expect the unexpected and appreciate the craft of musical diversity. They have pushed people around constantly with wide range of releases, and I mean wide. Boris has got its share of public acclaim from the world of rock for "Pink"
(mostly), but outside of that circle, many albums have their own unique cult following. For me, there is also another layer on Boris’ being. The so-called “archive” of releases that make Boris fans opinions strongly mixed up and not so many except the most avid fans have listened to them and even smaller share owns them. *coughlimitedcough* The Most common trait to these albums is that Boris usually does their most inaccessible musical trip. They have something to do with either ear-turmoil noise or minimalistic drone, actually both in the same package for the most time.
I’m picking up "Vein (Hardcore version)"
from 2006, which is noisy as hell but instead of droning your sense of time to waste, Boris are pissed off crusty punks with an attitude problem and serious passion for deafening anyone who dares to approach. I’m not kidding, but Boris is not new to this whole anti-clean thing in production department and making something special out of feedback or other “spacey soundscapes”. Don’t even mention "Boris At Last - Feedbacker"
here. The climactic eruption of sound waves in the second last part of that epic is gorgeously ugly and puts my head into total bliss after the long build-up. "Vein (HC)"
has lots of noise, but this time the intention behind that wall of sound is far more hostile and ruthless that even many people who liked "Rock Dream (with Merzbow)"
might get quite uncomfortable. It explains why so many people have got mixed opinions and some even say that Boris managed to create a barely listenable album that luckily lasts only for little over half an hour. I agree at times. This album has its share of moments where I couldn’t help but wonder what they were thinking by adding that here and those there, but I’ll get to that shortly. At least it’s not as unbearable like the "Drone version”
of this album.
Punk is not dead here. We got ourselves 12 tracks and most of them clock around 1 or 1 and half minutes. These bursts include all the sweets of the crusty hardcore toolbox. Shouts and screaming, fast kit pounding, simple riffs with energy… But Boris have sowed some surprises among the tracks that give a little variation to the beating but they are rare. The beginning of this album throws you two of these and one is worthless and others’ weakly decent at best. Opening "Vein I”
is what I would call “the essence of the album brought to the extreme end of loudness”. I’m not sure what to make out of it, but if you are unaware you will jump badly because the speakers “blow up”. I think I’m hearing drums here too but they are way too distorted to be actually called drumming. Things quiet down step by step (I feel like Boris was taking the piss with blasting full on and then switching gears like this) and lead to "Vein II"
, which has sound effects of battle jets flying nearby and other small noise. Boris give a proper introduction to "Vein (HC)"
with bass driven doom passage that really doesn't sound like anything spectacular. It’s very pedestrian. Luckily this will be over pretty soon and is followed by a sample of line from “The Stalker” by Andrei Tarkovsky.
Then we are introduced to the core of Vein
. (No pun intended) The hardcore side is pretty decent most of the time to be fair. The Band keeps the phase simple and linear. It’s done very much by the book, but who the heck cares for such nitpicking when this just tries to have a blast and pay possible homage in general. Some songs still are from quite to very good here. “Vein IX”
does what the rest of the punk tracks here are doing, but it does it best with great main guitar part and ferocious kick in “the feel”. "Vein III"
has some great thrashing too with nice riffs. The rest of the similar performances are mostly somewhat fun listens but are flawed with some of the most annoying background noise I have ever witnessed on a Boris album. The dirty production is no stranger to this band, but this shock value of bringing all that feedback to cover your hearing tunnels is just sickly dumb. The overall loudness of additional noises makes this album somehow “unique”, but this time not in a pleasant way. In the worst case scenario, the whole song gets buried six feet underground in the mix… Becoming pretty unlistenable ("Vein XI"
) or just eating out the punch from the songs. I’m very much unable to give some of these a proper opinion due to that issue, but it doesn’t stop me from saying that “Vein IV”
is awfully boring.
Still, all the songs are not that messed up and some of my favorite offerings are from the side of variance. “Vein VII”
is a beast. Slower opening with fast high tremolo picking going up and down on the board and the track nails it with the climax of fast killing accompanied by a solo. As "Smile"
is the better known Boris album everyone have heard this song sampled/played as a part of the final song “Untitled/…”
. If "Vein (HC)"
seriously had more efficient edge like this. After the highs and lows of Vein, the band brings out their biggest surprise here. “Vein XII”
fulfills the journey with enchanting feedback sequence and Boris brings "Amplifier Worship"
back with a small dose of their doom/drone formula. Another favorite song but can be a little mixed bag at first. The Leading guitar riff and kit pounding just caves in to become very ambient clamor and the excitement of upcoming sludge fest is pretty much gone. Still I like this song as I grew to enjoy the long aftermath.
Boris is Boris. Alienating the listeners by doing something radical is nothing new and on this album they even had me at some points. It feels intentional to give me hard time trying to digest all this material while chainsaws are grinding steel or tilting computers are having an orgy. Musical heartburns are likely to occur, but if you can pass the noisiness, "Vein (HC)"
is pretty fun album to dive into. If you count out the volume peaks, basic flaw to this release is mostly boring songs, but they just go with whole.