Coaltar of the Deepers/Boris
Hello There


3.3
great

Review

by JohnnyoftheWell STAFF
April 12th, 2024 | 14 replies


Release Date: 01/24/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Two of the most iconic 21st century Japanese bands unite on uneven footing.

Scoot around twenty years back in time, and the prospect of Coaltar of the Deepers and Boris releasing an album-length split of re-recorded tracks and covers of each other's work would have stoked the heart of any self-respecting Japanese rock fan to feverish intensity. Both bands' legacy comfortably precedes them by now: Boris' initial run of album-to-album alternations between monolithic drones and rollicking stoner bangers are legendary well beyond their home borders, while Coaltar of the Deepers' ambidextrous crossover of every shoegaze trope in the book with umpteen, disarmingly cogent metal/surf/electronic pairings is now a long-standing in-joke for anyone sensitive to their main genre's reputation for homogeneity.

Although the late '00s marked a break in the studio output of both acts – for Coaltar, 2007's milestone album Yukari Telepath; for Boris, 2008's ever-underappreciated Smile – their careers since have followed very different trajectories. Boris found fresh inspiration with a pop-metal renaissance in 2011 and have never looked back, keeping up such momentum that their intended prospect of a breakup in 2017 was ultimately left in the dust; on the other hand, while they technically never broke up, Coaltar of the Deepers' activity as a studio band has fluctuated wildly since the late '00s, and their output since – a handful of singles, 2018's RABBIT EP and 2021's REVENGE OF THE VISITORS (a rerecording of their debut album) – has seemed more like a tentative foot in the door than a true follow-up to Yukari Telepath.

For anyone holding out for a gamechanger on that front, Coaltar's side of Hello There posits an emphatic "not yet". The band's decision to rework two of Yukari Telepath's most muscular tracks ("Wipeout" and "Water Bird") is curious and ultimately unsatisfying: the originals obliterated genre boundaries with their steely mesh of shoegaze and rollicking metal that, setting the stage for an extraordinary central run of progressive electronic hybrids that made Yukari Telepath one of the finest achievements of its kind. Whatever heft and these tracks once had at their command is all but absent here: their original density is lost in a thinner mix, and the band's performances convey little of the same eerie focus (which goes double for Coaltar-in-Chief Narasaki, whose vocal performance is unflatteringly focal here). At its peak, Coaltar's cover of Boris' "Melody" puts their arsenal of coursing shoegazing tones to excellent use, yet they falter on the weighty dynamic shifts that recur throughout the verses, missing out on the momentum that Boris brought in spades when they used it to kick off their 2014 blockbuster Noise. Between this and yet another version of their death metal cover of the Cure's "Killing Another" (formerly "Killing an Arab", after Camus), Coaltar's side of the split comes off as jumbled trivia and limp retreads. One hopes for a true comeback in due course.

Where Coaltar of the Deepers are still shaking off the effects of years in the wilderness, Boris barely seem to have taken so much as a holiday since 2011: while the quality of their output since has fluctuated (though rarely slumped), they retain world-class prestige both in the studio and as a live act, and they are in as strong form as ever here. Their choice of songs bodes well, boasting "Luna", an underappreciated deep cut from an alternative New Album (2011) tracklist, and the iconic "Quicksilver", perhaps the most high-octane and uncompromising of Noise's formidable roster of bangers. Both those parent albums showcased abnormally glossy production by Boris' standards, and, in turn, the reworkied songs benefit from a decidedly rawer edge. "Quicksilver" is still a blast for the same reasons as ever, and aesthetic preferences are unlikely to exert more than a secondary influence to that end, but "Luna" outright shines in its new version: the original's giddy rush of distortion gives way to leaner metal riffs, and twinkling synths are swapped for more subdued keys, courtesy of core member Atsuo (who cedes drumming duties to new-ish recruit Muchio for the whole release). I largely adore the original, but find it carries the claustrophobic overtones of a studio experiment, so densely textured that it was impossible to tell where the band starts or ends – this new version leaves far more space in its arrangement, and its many intricacies shine all the brighter for it.

It sounds as epic as ever, and the second half of the album shapes up well as such. Throw in Boris' kickass cover of the Coaltar deep cut "Serial Tear" (one of their nastiest metal sluggers, and readymade for a Boris interpretation), and they dish out a full-house for returning fans and day-trippers alike. Get your paws on this album if Boris' name is the one that drew your gaze – otherwise, its chief impression is likely to remain the enigmatic register of its title.




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user ratings (7)
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
April 12th 2024


60521 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

For whatever reason, the digital and vinyl release date for this got pushed back to March 22nd

but it is here

and it's okay? Coaltar side 2.5-3.0 territory, Boris 3.5-4.0 -- mainly here for the Serial Tear cover and that new version of Luna

will say that this finally got me to check the rerecorded Coaltar debut, which is much tighter than I expected and potentially an improvement on the og

DadKungFu
Staff Reviewer
April 12th 2024


4876 Comments


Coaltar's new to me, where should I start?

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
April 12th 2024


60521 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

any of Yukari Telepath, Come Over... or Submerge depending on which tags appeal (prefer the former two, but Submerge has their highest everything-and-the-kitchen-sink quotient and probably their best gaze track) - pretty cool discog, but those three are easily the best I think

NOTINTHEFACE
April 12th 2024


2142 Comments


CotD are in my top 5 bands of all time and Yukari Telepath has spent many hundreds of hours in my ears over the last 2 decades. At this point I just wish that Narasaki would admit that the band is defunct and while they might play a show here or there or release a re-recording or B-sides here or there that they will not record new music. Rip off the band-aid and give the die hard fans (all 4 of us) a sense of finality.

@DadKungFu My personal journey was No Thank You -> Newave -> Yukari Telepath (and then everything else) which I found incredibly engrossing and satisfying because of the stark genre hops going on between albums and the bizarre creativity on display on their final 3 LP's. If you just want the tightest and most streamlined version of them, check Yukari Telepath. But IMO you can't go wrong starting anywhere.

Demon of the Fall
April 12th 2024


33917 Comments


what kind of absurd combo is this? lol

Hmm, I’m curious but should also further explore their discogs first perhaps, as I imagine that may be more worthwhile

Prancer
April 12th 2024


1612 Comments


damn, average is disappointing to see considering the names. a collab in their prime say 20 years ago would have been huge. artwork is also very unappetizing.

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
April 12th 2024


60521 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Artist name is a bit misleading (waiting for my edit to take effect) - this is a split not a collab, and contains no original songs at all lol. new versions of the Boris tracks are worthwhile if you dug them on New Album/Noise, otherwise this is an optional extra in the Boris discog and a blot on Coaltar's (great band though)

Demon of the Fall
April 12th 2024


33917 Comments


This makes slightly more sense now but also not(?) lol

Okay gonna go back to pretending this doesn’t exist / checking more of their respective solo efforts

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
April 12th 2024


16649 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Coaltar's first album is sick. haven't heard the others

DadKungFu
Staff Reviewer
April 12th 2024


4876 Comments


Killer avatar prancer

hortanz
April 13th 2024


839 Comments


to Demon of the Fall, Narasaki previously wrote a song and Boris covered Coaltar on the Tears EP. I was looking forward to this, overall pretty enjoyable. was kind of bummed that coaltar just rerecorded old songs though since I would really like new material from them, or an official 15 years later release

Wildcardbitchesss
April 13th 2024


12133 Comments


Never listened to either of these bands but I’m a bad boy and am gonna start here

Prancer
April 13th 2024


1612 Comments


thanks homie @dadkungfu

Mordecai.
April 17th 2024


8406 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It it just me or is Coaltar's Tortoise EP one of the best things ever? 'To The Beach' is immensely heavy. Boris & Merzbow do a crushing cover of that one on 2R0I2P0 - up there with Boris' 'Serial Tear' cover on this split.



Good review, but I think this rules m/



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