Uncommon music criticized by the common man. (Or, exercises in futility masquerading as critical thought.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Updates are taking longer than I'd like. I apologize (to those of you actually wandering across this blog); I really would like to make this a more regular, possibly even daily, review site. Alas, such is not the case.

Amplifier Worship
2001 - Man's Ruin

Well, here is a perfect example of where the comparisons are apt. Boris owe a lot to the Melvins. Yet, making that comparison seems somewhat limiting. Yes, like the Melvins, Boris do have a handle on the heaviness-through-slowness. But just as the Melvins aren't strictly a one-trick pony (they're far too weird to let themselves get bogged down with one sound), Boris puts their own stamp on their sludgy sound.

For starters, Boris favor much longer playing times. The shortest track on this particular album is a "mere" 7 minutes in length. Another release, Absolutego, is a 65 minute long behemoth, much like Sleep's Dopesmoker. And while it would be easy to just make the music one spartan, drawn out riff after another in order to fill those times, Boris seems to know the exact moment where a riff may get tiring, and change things up. This also applies to a song by song analysis, as this doesn't feel like one big slab of music with arbitrary breaks for track numbers. Instead, they vary their styles a bit. While opener "Huge" (appropriately titled), is a bludgeoning monster of a song, all doomy riffs and pounding (though sparse) percussion, track three, "Hama," is a full on blast of hard rock bordering on punk. Later, on the wonderful "Kuruimizu," Boris actually takes a turn for the pretty (and it's not even a relative term in this case), with an extended coda that is a stark contrast to the previous riffing. It's downright tranquil, and keeps the proceedings from becoming oppressive (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Some people might hear this album and think it's the biggest Melvins' ripoff since Nirvana released Bleach--and that was my initial reaction--but further inspection reveals an album that's as heavy as anything the Melvins have released, but goes far beyond the simplistic riff and bash that such a characterization might imply. It reveals a band that understands that a little musicality can help make even the most challenging music that much better, without compromising any of the music's power or vision.