Boris' sound is defined by their insistence on rocking the fuck out. Their earliest works, like the classic albums Heavy Rocks and Pink, revolve around taking heavy metal and, to borrow from Sp?n?al Tap, taking it up to eleven. These albums have an absolutely huge, dirty quality to them that leaves Boris' peers in the dust. So Boris released their latest album Heavy Rocks, modeled after its namesake right down to the cover art, comparison to their early era is only to be expected.
And that's omething that confuses me already; Heavy Rocks sounds almost nothing like its namesake. The songs are heavy, yes, but they feel a lot more restrained. There's not a single track on this album that approaches the intensity of, say, “??.” Songs like “Leak -Truth, yesnoyesnoyes-” and “Riot Sugar” get close, but fall just short of the calibre of heaviness that defined early Boris albums.
That's not to say Heavy Rocks isn't still heavy. It is. “Window Shopping” is a pretty rocking instrumental, featuring softly sung, wordless vocals that contrast wonderfully with the absolutely wailing-the-fuck-out guitar. Boris' trademark howling makes “GALAXIANS” an intense listen, and “Riot Sugar” has some of the nastiest heavy metal riffing you'll ever hear. It's just that these tracks are a bit more mellow than their earlier counterparts, maybe reaching an eight or nine on the Sp?n?al Tap scale.
One advantage that Heavy Rocks does have over Heavy Rocks is its stylistic diversity. Rather than just focusing on the heavy rocking aspect of Boris' sound, there are also tracks that explore other aspects of their music. “Aileron” is a drone metal track in the style of Boris at Last: -Feedbacker-, going from structured melodies to huge, aimless wailing in the space of ten minutes. “Missing Pieces,” though it does show off Boris' drone tendencies, is a touch more restrained, sounding closer to Wings of Lead Over Dormant Seas-era Dirge rather than Black One-era SunnO))).
Not every song on here is a winner, unfortunately. There are a small handful of songs that are a bit obnoxious, like the repetitive annoyance that is “Jackson Head.” “Tu, la la” also feels a bit weak in comparison to the rest of the album; the vocal work in particular feels rather uninspired.
All in all, it almost feels like Heavy Rocks is meant to be something of a career retrospective for Boris rather than a direct descendant of their earliest albums. They are incorporating musical elements from all over their career, and the result is a fun, interesting, and satisfying album. It isn't their strongest album, but it's still a welcome addition to the Boris discography.
7.5 / 10
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