Friday, August 20, 2010

Boris Invades The Middle East

If you are a fan of progressive metal of any kind, I hope you were at the show on August 7, 2010 at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA. The lineup consisting of Russian Circles, Cave In, and Boris covered much of the metal landscape. Russian Circles impressed with their mathy post-rock onslaught; Cave In mesmerized everyone with their mix of space rock and technical metal; and Boris brought their distinctive noise rock and sludge from Japan.

Russian Circles played a set of post-rock bliss. They weaved songs together effortlessly which displayed the immense talent that the band possess. The ebb and flow established during their set was executed perfectly to capture the audiences attention. The crowd was extremely receptive to the unreal guitar noodling and breakdowns which had hearts pounding. The powerful “Geneva”, one of my personal favorites of their, exploded with precision and contained crescendos that shot adrenaline through you like a cannon. The group reminded me of a more intricate version of Pelican while validating their position as one of the best post-rock bands currently active. You can hear some surprisingly good audio of “Geneva” from the performance in the video below.

It was already a thousand degrees in the Middle East downstairs by the time Cave In was ready to take the stage. Anyone who has seen a show there knows that by the second band, the place heats up like a furnace. Despite the slight discomfort, I could not have been more ecstatic that I was going to see Boston natives Cave In who are one of my favorite bands of all time.

From right out of the gate, Cave In played an unpredictable set with emphasis on the heavier side of their catalog. I don’t remember when Stephen Brodsky and Adam McGrath became the best one-two punch in metal but they certainly made a case for it with their guitar mastery. Throughout the night, they were simultaneous shredding with astonishing expertise.

The pinnacle of their set was a new song called “Centered” which found Brodsky, McGrath, and bassist Caleb Scofield each singing different parts. Brodsky has already proven himself a formidable vocalist and Scofield’s bloodcurdling scream adds effective dichotomy but it was also great to hear McGrath finally get in the mix as well. It made perfect sense to start integrating his voice into the songwriting since his vocal work with Clouds was so great. The song also showcased mind-blowing dynamic changes throughout, complete with a trick ending. It was seriously one of the best metal songs I’ve heard in awhile. See for yourself with the video below which comes from from their performance at the Middle East. I’m also embedding a version from their show in Portland, Maine which was uploaded to YouTube by Stephen Brodsky.

The crowd was treated to a relentless set bursting with enthusiasm. The energy displayed by this band was simply unmatched by anything I’ve seen this year. It was hilarious to watch Brodsky rip through riffs and solos while smiling from ear to ear. “Vicious Circle”, another vigorous new song, further showed their penchant for writing intriguing, spacey metal songs. They transitioned it flawlessly into fan favorite “Trepanning” which had everyone cheering from the unforgettable opening riff.

Older songs scattered throughout the set such as “Luminance” kept longtime fans happy. The set came to a close with standout “Retina Sees Rewind” from their latest release, the Plants of Old EP, which features one of their most memorable guitar riffs. I have been dying for new material and the tracks they played live only had my anticipation level skyrocketing. Thankfully, the band announced that they are readying a new album dubbed White Silence for release in the coming weeks. The album is expected to feature nine tracks and more details are expected in the near future. Videos for “Vicious Circle/Trepanning” and “Luminance” from the show can be found below.

I also had the opportunity to purchase their limited edition CD Anomalies Vol. 2 'Live In Milan'. Apparently, they got ahead of themselves and skipped Vol. 1. Below you can check out the track “Halo of Flies” from the release which is a track from their pivotal 1998 album, Until Your Heart Stops.

Boris is an unpredictable band. With a catalog as monstrous as theirs, they have the ability to switch the entire atmosphere of their show from performance to performance. Last time I saw them, the group kicked things off with some scorchers then slowed things down to a meandering, noisy slosh. This time around it was a decidedly different take finding Boris beginning with slower tunes then building to a healthy pace as the night progressed. This was a much more enjoyable execution and held my interest effortlessly.

“Farewell” from their breakout album, Pink, started the night on a favorable and familiar note. The brooding “Rainbow” was a surprise as the second song and featured guitarist Wata on vocals. The psychedelic guitar solo played over the delicate melody was one of the highlights of the night with it’s pitch-perfect tone and was met with a torrent of applause. “Statement” showed their ability to dramatically switch gears and pummel the audience with pure rock and roll fury. I was also pleased to hear “Korosu” from Heavy Rocks, which is my favorite albums of theirs. They ended with my favorite track from Smile, the boundless “Untitled”. Its soaring vocals and utterly epic crescendo made it the ultimate closer. At the end of the set, drummer Atsuo leaped into the crowd and was carried by adoring fans while looking absolutely stoked.

This was an especially impressive performance by Boris and trumped my previous experience with the band. It effectively showcased their wide range and diverse catalog in a way that I wasn’t sure that they could pull off live. Although, Cave In took the top prize for their homecoming, face-melting performance, Boris was as close to their level of precise, captivating metal as they could have been. The show was also one of the loudest I could recall and left my eardrums in tatters but it was worth every frequency that was sacrificed from my hearing in the name of metal. As a testament to how DEAFENING Boris is, I am embedding a video someone uploaded of “Korosu” that is almost inaudible thanks the volume they played at. I will also include a stream of the song because it kicks serious ass.

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