2017 is a big milestone for Japanese metalheads Boris.
This year marks their 25th anniversary as a band, the release of their 23rd studio album and the 10th anniversary of their seminal album ‘Pink’, which they gave the live treatment at Brisbane’s Crowbar (15 May).
Perth’s Tangled Thoughts Of Leaving opened, delivering a mesmerising set of instrumental post-rock. The band moved from ambient drones and soft-piano flourishes to blistering attacks of white noise. With eyes closed and heads rocking, it looked like their music was taking the band on an incredible journey and I felt I had joined them.
Anticipation for Boris was high, with the crowd swelling in size making it difficult to get close to the stage. The underground metal icons hid their arrival behind a large puff from their smoke machines, beginning the album’s slow and ethereal opening track ‘My Farewell’ behind a cloud of fog. I couldn’t contain my excitement when Wata chugged the Motorhead-esque riff to the title track.
‘Pink’ was my introduction to Boris and hearing it live was pure pleasure. Takeshi sang and riffed on his double-necked guitar with drummer Atsuo leaping from his stool every chance he could to yelp at and mug the crowd like the rock star he is. The pit became wild during Wata’s heavy riffing on ‘Woman On The Screen’.
Once the frantic punk of ‘Nothing Special’ began, the crowd grew rougher than Takeshi’s vocals becoming a storm of pushing and shoving. When songs like the stoned jam ‘Blackout’ or the slow strut of ‘Afterburner’ appeared, the crowd was soothed, swaying and nodding to the beat.
The album’s ten-minute finishing track ‘Just Abandoned Myself’ went from furious riffing to Wata and Takeshi locking eyes for a droning finish, while Atsuo leapt on his kit to attack the gong behind him.
While the song finishes the album, Boris closed with b-side ‘Your Name Part 2’. Lacking the heavy metal riffing of the rest of the album, the song makes up for it with its prettiness and the crushing wave of distortion they build is a fine finish.
For an encore, the band gave fans a special treat in ‘Absolutego’: the first single from their upcoming album, which rages just as hard as anything on ‘Pink’.
As the band finished, I rubbed my ringing ears and thought how well they recreated ‘Pink’. Boris effortlessly recaptures the sounds blasted from it, but I couldn’t help feel that playing the album live restricted them from really letting loose and jumping from different genres to pure noise as they normally would.
However, Boris’ playing of ‘Pink’ from front to back showcased just how brilliantly structured the album is and why it is worshipped as a stone-cold classic of riffs. It was a great first taste of Boris live and I can’t wait to see what they do without restrictions.