Formed in 1992 in Tokyo, Japan, and not to be confused with a certain bumbling blond politician, Boris are something of an Enigma. Dipping in and out of various musical styles, Boris refuse to be categorised, or neatly filed away under any particular genre. Boris do not consider themselves a heavy metal band, although they did name themselves after a Melvins song. Boris have had a whole slew of labels thrown at them over the years, from 'noise rock' to 'doom metal' to 'shoegaze'. The truth is that Boris are all of these and yet none of these – the 'whole' of Boris is greater than the sum of its parts.
Boris have a very large back catalogue behind them at this point, with their latest effort, 'Dear', being no less than their twenty-fourth studio album – and that's not even counting their various artistic collaboration albums over the last quarter of a century. Over that time, Boris have become something of an institution. Inscrutable, mysterious and deeply dedicated to their craft, Boris are eminently Japanese.
'Dear' begins with track 'D.O.W.N (Domination of Waiting Noise)', which accurately describes the peal of drums followed by thunder-crash guitars that kick this track off. A slow, meandering track, thicker than treacle, 'D.O.W.N' is like being marooned on an island in the middle of an ocean of sound, not quite sure how you got there or what is going on. This track doesn't so much take you on a journey, but allows you to wander off in your own direction.
'Absolutego' takes us into more traditional heavy metal territory with its aggressive vocals and pounding rhythms, complete with a slightly grungy edge to round things off. 'Kagero' takes things back into gentler, dreamlike territory with its gentle vocal approach and plodding tempo, whereas 'Biotope' is positively hypnotic and deeply calming. 'The Power' takes a darker turn, before 'Memento Mori' takes us into melancholy, Radioheadesque melodies.
Overall, 'Dear' is a diverse and rewarding album, with moments of intensity neatly juxtaposed with lengths of serenity and calm, yet somehow all bound up together as part of a whole, all uniquely 'Boris'. 'Dear' is a beautiful album with a brooding menace bubbling just underneath the surface that never quite takes over, the album being almost like a tie in a musical battle between light and dark. 'Dear' is a solid and powerful piece of music well worthy of your time. 'Dear' reader – give it a go.