Originally intended as a farewell piece, Dear is the 25th album from Boris since 1996. Their ridiculously prolific output saw them release a hat-trick of full-length records in 2011, and again in 2015. Thankfully the writing and recording of Dear has reinvigorated the band, and the world will continue to be subjected to their incessant droning and downtuned aural pummeling. The minimalist riffs, sustained chords, rumbling amps, and glacially paced doom are all still present and correct. They are often referred to as a metal band but it’s an inaccurate label. Boris are closer to jazz than metal. Their decision to examine the properties of distortion are what lead to that misapprehension.
Back in ’96, Atsuo (drums, vocals), Takeshi (bass, guitar, vocals) and Wata (guitar, vocals) gave us their debut, Absolutego, and on Dear, they have included a track of the same name.They are masters and servants of sustained chords. So when they eventually produce something resembling a conventional song, they do so with an accuracy and efficiency that less studied bands could learn from. ‘Absolutego’ mixes grunge-era vocals with Shellac discord and galloping NWOBHM riffs. The ferocious riffs and abrasive guitar tone could flay the skin off your face.
‘Beyond’ brings the band's minimalism to a new level with instrumentation that is barely there, under breathy vocals, before normal service resumes in a cacophonous explosion of sizzling fuzz. ‘Biotope’ is a slow build drone that builds inexorably to a thumping, anthemic climax while ‘The Power’ lives up to its name with a doomy NWOBHM instrumental vibe.
The final parts of the album clock in at over 20 minutes between them. ‘Distopia- Vanishing Point-‘ opens with an accordion and kettle drums and is as close as Boris will ever get to an overblown Guns ‘n’ Roses ballad. The melodic solo that begins seven minutes in, and lasts for four minutes, is the kind of melodramatic, melodic widdling that Slash specializes in. Wata’s whammy bar gets the kind of abuse that would have the neighbours calling the police.
Dear toys with you; playing dead and seemingly inactive for long periods of time, creeping up on you until suddenly you realise your head is banging and your foot is stomping on the floor. If you know Boris already then Dear is exactly what you want from them. If you are new to the band then there are a few better ways in. Like their other work, Dear is an album that rewards the time put into it. If you have the patience to listen to it repeatedly (and preferably very loudly) it will sweep you away on a wave of distortion.