Heavy Rocks (2022)

rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. She is Burning
02. Cramper
03. My name is blank
04. Blah Blah Blah
05. Question 1
06. Nosferatou
07. Ruins
08. Ghostly imagination
09. Chained
10. (not) Last song

Tokyo's BORIS has been kicking out their insane, one-of-a-kind jams for 30 years now, winnowing down from a quintet to a power trio but inversely increasing their bombastic and sonic impact as they did so. Their voyage finds them delving into terrain that's heavy and noisy on one end, ambient and pensive on the other, and touching upon experimental rock, doom, heavy metal and psychedelia in between. Their ongoing metamorphosis has been with purpose, and the eclectic ensemble now returns with "Heavy Rocks (2022)", an album that'll be one of the year's most interesting left field, heavy music releases.

While the Japanese act has never been one that's easy to pigeonhole, finding appeal amongst fans of indie rock all the way over to the punk crowd, its early days seemed inspired by heavy metal more than anything. The new release is a series continuation, having started with 2002's "Heavy Rocks" and 2011's "Heavy Rocks II", and it filters the classic seventies sounds of proto-metal through the adventurous minds of BORIS. Never mind their many collaborative efforts, the band has released well in excess of a couple of dozen albums, and for any band that's exceptionally prolific, every time up to bat isn't going to be a home run. This time around, however, BORIS brought their A game.

The 10 tracks are diverse and captivating. "Chained" is a frenzy of riffs, while "Question 1" takes experimental rock through a barrage of noise, thrash punk, d-beat and metal, where impassioned melodic vocals morph into scathing heavy metal screams. Elsewhere, "My Name is Blank" is exceptionally catchy and punchy in the vein of TORCHE. The spacious reach and massive sound of "Blah Blah Blah", meanwhile, is downright eerie and steeped in psychedelia.

For heavy music fans yearning for something that's off the beaten path, "Heavy Rocks" is an immediate fit and one that's accessible enough to find a home in the collection of fans of a variety of underground music styles. That does not mean that everyone is going to get it: There is a lot to take in, and it requires involvement and an investment of time. The album flows and makes sense, and with these kinds of nuanced and loaded releases, the rewards are plentiful. Heavy music simply needs more bands like BORIS.

Author: Jay H. Gorania
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