Boris rage against a world turned upside down on the urgent, hardcore-driven No | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Boris rage against a world turned upside down on the urgent, hardcore-driven No 

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Courtesy of Boris

In their nearly 30 years as a band, Boris have developed the rare ability to alchemize practically any sound in the vast realm of heavy, atmospheric, and psychedelic rock into their distorted, amplified vision. The Tokyo trio’s release and tour schedules have been equally ambitious (they’ve played Chicago so often over the past decade they almost seem like locals), and as the live-music industry ground to a halt along with the rest of the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they turned to the studio for respite. Their new hardcore-driven album, No, is a statement piece, and you don’t need to understand their Japanese lyrics to get the message. No simultaneously mourns the freedoms and relationships lost or shelved during the pandemic, rages at society’s subservience toward opaque systems that don’t serve its best interests, and calls upon listeners to channel their negative energy into creativity, connection, and change. The band themselves have dubbed it “extreme healing music”—and there’s plenty of fury and catharsis to go around. Boris’s defiance is evident from the outset of plodding, poker-faced instrumental opener “Genesis,” even before they erupt into a noisy cacophony of punk, psych, metal, and more. True to form, the group’s best moments are often their most eclectic. On the face-peeling “Non Blood Lore” the trio merge fiery D-beat aggression with rich harmony vocals, while on “HxCxHxC Perforation Line” they lay brilliant clouds of shoegaze over throbbing hardcore beats. That serenity doesn’t last long, though, and by the end of the noise-tastic “Fundamental Error,” a cover of Japanese 90s hardcore legends Gudon that features a guest spot from Osaka punk guitarist Katsumi Sugahara, you’ll be pining for a grimy, sweaty circle pit. No ends on a calmer note with “Interlude,” as guitarist-vocalist Wata breathily sings over airy, reverberating atmospheres: “I want to go to the side where you can touch.” It can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when we’re trudging through the dark, but Boris suggest that this too shall pass. With enough perseverance, resilience, and rage—and even a little fun—we’ll find our way back together.   v

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