Akuma No Uta
Being such a young country with a culture of manufacturing and a manufactured culture, the things we consider to be "American" (and when I say that, I am meaning the United States though I fully realize that the Americas allegedly consist of other countries than my own) are not hothouse flowers that can only grow in their natural habitat, but are more like weeds that can thrive wherever their fecund seed should land. They take over the native vegetation and transmute the subtle flora into garish red white and blue flowers and fruit turgid with juice. We, being the useless cultural teenagers we are, don't really know what to do with what we have, so fortunately our elder cultures across the seas and imaginary lines we draw can craft wonderful things vining out from our compost.
And when we speak of who best dices up our potatoes and makes the best hash, its hands-down the Japanese. Their pop music is poppier, their snacks are snackier, the punks are snottier and their metal is heavier. A trio of sludgey Stoogey trolls from the misty mountains going by the name Boris have been brought to our shores by Southern Lord, the fortress of all things avant-garde metallic, with their latest epic Akuma No Uta, prove this theory to glorious success. Previous releases have seen the group mine the various veins of sonic death down in this hole, like the single track monstrosity Absolutego or the destructo-trash on Heavy Rocks, but here they bring all their styles to the table on one heavy, magnificent record.
"Introduction" comes off like a protracted coyote howl coming from the bowels of outer space causing the surface of the earth to rumble and splinter from the lasers shooting out from his molten sockets. And then when you think the earth is going to be turned inside out, molten core devouring us all, the band kicks in with the MC5 thrash of "Ibitsu" blazing a hole in you like a Mad Max biker knifing through a dust storm. To put it in the proper vernacular(in order to not try to codify it to bloodlessness in some post-modern appropriations-theory-machine) this shit fucking rocks. "Furi" comes in at the tail end to prove that their sense of garage thrash its not a fluke, their fury (maybe the namesake) momentarily interrupted by transformer station blowouts and solar flares licking the scorched Earth.
And then when you think your life here on out is going to be spent in the video game battle, the 10+ minute transcendental psychedelic jam "Naki Kyoku" sets the burning suns in a gentle technicolor glow of strummed guitars and quite keyboards. Here you start to get the joke on the cover, aping that of the fey NIck Drake masterpiece Bryter Layter except the man in the stool is bearing a ridiculous menacing double neck bass/guitar monstrosity. Night falls on this tranquil plane, and Boris gets their sinister groove on with one of the best guitar solos out there right now. And don't cringe up when I say "guitar solo" like that, its will make you drop your messenger bag. Plus you know you love them. No one has ever pranced in front of a the mirror with a tennis racket pretending to be a rhythm guitarist..Anyway I digress, this song also kicks uncharted ass.
The jams are once again wheeled out for a sound kicking on the straight ahead rocker "Ano Onna No Onyou." If you are one of those that are put off by singers not singing in the English, let me tell you, at this point in the album, you feel you get the singer. You may not understand the specifics, but the message was carved on the stone of your brain back in caveman days. The title track closing this masterpiece opens the landing bay doors, with you and the rest on top of devil's rock blinking at the light from the menacing mother ship that has just landed on your van. But here, these aliens, instead of taking one of your burnouts back with them to Planet Metaphor, produce War of the Worlds laser eye stalks and joyously lay waste to us all. Sure, we all get destroyed and all, but its a glorious way to go. The ruins after Boris is done with us are far more poetic and powerful stomping grounds for the Today's Tom Sawyer in all of us than anything we could come up with.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com
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