It's one of life's pleasant surprises that metal, a genre once viewed as a backwards-looking, frequently embarrassing musical cul de sac, now produces music that can easily take its place in the vanguard of experimentation, relentlessly testing the limits I'm thinking of bands like Hyatari, Isis, Jesu, Sun O))), Meshuggah.
A three-piece from Japan in the power-trio tradition, Boris straddle the boundary between stoner rock's atavistic tendencies and the high-speed blur of abstract noise-rock. There's stuff here that recalls fellow high-octane Japanese rockers High Rise and Guitar Wolf, but with leanings towards fuzz-textured abstraction. In truth, there ought to be something here to satisfy both the extreme metal fan and the avant-rock connoisseur, while, crucially, retaining an accessibility as a useful entry point for the merely curious.
Pink begins with the oceanic sprawl of "Farewell," where big, heavy guitar chords and thunderous drums are underpinned by hints at chiming melody and the vague murmur of vocals. It's not unlike Jane's Addiction's "Up the Beach," possessing the same sense of vast openness crossed with an ominous swell of sound. At the close, the guitars surge forward in waves of noise, a precursor of what's to come. And come it does, with the hammering, staccato fuzz of the album's title track and the speed riffs of "Woman on the Screen." It's not clear what bassist Takeshi is singing about, but that hardly seems to matter in the songs' headlong, ecstatic rush.
The seismic growl of Wata's guitar ushers in the breakneck "Nothing Special" with its terrific, guttural riffing. "Blackout" slows things right down to Atsuo's reverberating, funereal drumbeat and the slow, crunching impact of fuzz and feedback before "Electric" and "Pseudo-Bread" up the velocity once again. "Afterburner" displays a more overt Sabbath influence in its textures, a kind of over-amped chain-gang blues, with handclaps, huge, distorted riffs and low-end soloing. "Six, Three Times" finds the band in acceleration mode once more, but then in contrast, "My Machine" sounds almost ambient with its muffled, slowly ascending chord pattern.
"Just Abandoned My-Self" ties things up with a sign-off that's absolutely stunning. Here the band plays with an accelerating sense of urgency and just keeps on going, hammering away at breakneck pace for 5...10...15 minutes, the details merging into solid blocks of abstract noise, an endless avalanche of crashing distortion, only relenting after some 18 minutes as it subsides into a low, buzzing drone of energy.