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Boris “Heavy Rocks”/”Attention Please”

by Shawn Despres

Being a Boris completist is a daunting task. One of the country’s most prolific underground acts, this year the Tokyo three-piece have already issued their “New Album” full-length and “Klatter,” a vinyl-only collaboration with Japanese noise-artist Merzbow. They are back again with their two latest releases, “Heavy Rocks” and “Attention Please.”

With these two new titles, Boris continue to stray from their avant-garde metal past. While still a far cry from being a commercial rock band, Boris have begun to slowly creep onto the radars of mainstream hard-rock fans by crafting cuts that are becoming increasingly more accessible, while remaining exciting and innovative.

On “Heavy Rocks,” a title Boris also used for another disc in 2002, the band revisit their roots with the Black Sabbath-inspired stoner anthem “Riot Sugar.” Playful shouts usher in the explosive “Galaxians.” Switching back and forth between trippy psychedelic rock and fast-paced punk, that track easily emerges as the most fun moment of “Heavy Rocks.” The expansive melodies and muted guitar freakouts of “Tu, La La” wouldn’t sound out of place on alt-rock radio, somewhere few would expect to hear a Boris tune.

“Attention Please” is a very different listening experience. Female guitarist Wata provides all lead vocals on the album, her soft singing adding a seductive edge to the title track’s dreamy pop sounds. “Hope” and “Spoon” are both infectious slices of shoegazer goodness. Electronic tinkering mixes with a repetitive drum beat and fuzzed-out guitar riffs to make “Party Boy” a borderline club banger. The beautiful “You” serves as a pensive comedown with swirling, spacey noises lazily floating atop Wata’s breathy, ethereal crooning and the group’s minimal instrumentation.

While both are keepers, “Attention Please” is the more enticing of the pair and stands out as some of the band’s most adventurous (and surprising) work to date. It would come as little surprise if Boris put out more material before 2012 rolls around. For those on a budget, picking up one of the discs now and saving your yen to see what else they cook up in the coming months may not be a bad idea. (Shawn Despres)