First Listen: Boris, 'Heavy Rocks'

May 15, 2011

Boris is confusing and delighting completists by putting out four releases this year — read all about it here — but the Japanese heavy-music trio has just one more curve ball. There is a Heavy Rocks that came out in 2002, and this particular new recording is also called Heavy Rocks. Got it?

Digging further, Heavy Rocks — out May 24 — also celebrates that original release by digging, if ever-so-slightly, into the thick, distorted riffage that made Boris' mark at the beginning of the last decade. The guitar tone isn't quite the same, but, through the band's move toward poppier song structures, the attitude is. And, instead of dodging around the glam-teasing of 2008's uneven Smile, Heavy Rocks embraces glam with its own blistering approach to sonic excess. The one-two punch of "Galaxians" and "Jackson Head" is two Jack Daniel's shots away from a Dodge Charger crashing through the living room. And if you need a rager, lead guitarist Wata doot-doot-do's her way through the barn-burning headbanger "Window Shopping."

Heavy Rocks isn't just one big riff party, though. There are moments of blissed-out sweetness in "Missing Pieces" and "Aileron." The latter actually appears on Attention Please as a short acoustic interlude with a picked chord progression that begs for a full song. So here it is, in all its 12-minute heavy shoegazing glory, like the sludge-metal weirdos in Harvey Milk having a really bummer day (which is always).

If there's anything to learn from Boris' prolific release schedule, especially in 2011, it's that the band sees no difference in its wide array of sound. This year, it's hard to disagree. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit