If you like your music heavy, like pummel your ears and brain relentlessly with sludgy bass, screaming guitar solos, shouted lyrics, and punishing drumming for almost forty straight minutes heavy, then you need to experience Boris’ Heavy Rocks 2022. The album, the third in a series by the Japanese drone metal trio in which the band lean into their hard rock and metal tendencies, offers a ceaseless hammering of your auditory senses that is sure to delight even the most jaded fans of extreme guitar-based music.
A short shout is heard just before Boris crashes in with “She is Burning”, a speedy opener that rushes through with thrashing guitars and lightning-fast drums for a full thirty seconds before a saxophone joins the revelry. The brutal, sensorial assault only lets up for a face-melting guitar solo to tear past. The excellent “My Name is Blank” shows up third in the sequence and ups the heaviness quotient by employing chugging thrash metal guitars. A squawking saxophone introduces “Blah Blah Blah” just before a post-punk bass line walks in and sets up a sweet groove for Boris to improvise around with feedback-laden guitar and more shrieking sax.
Heavy Rocks 2022’s second single, “Question 1”, and its successor, the comparatively slow and sludgy “Nosferatou”, mark the album’s halfway point, and the pair’s combined total running time make up a quarter of the entire record. “Ruins” is a short, fast number that works well by keeping the production to a minimum and is the closest Boris get to straight-up punk rock on this collection. Heavy Rocks’ penultimate track, “Chained”, opens with a field recording of what sounds like wind whipping through a haunted pinball arcade. The sound of the machines’ bumpers and bells are quickly replaced with furious percussion and howling slathered in synthetic effects. The album’s closer, the six-plus-minute “(Not) Last Song”, opens with sustained single notes played on a piano. Wailing vocals enter along with a whirlwind of feedback that sounds like it’s coming from the bottom of a well. The unusually sparse instrumentation lasts for the entirety of the song’s running time and is perhaps most reminiscent of similarly quietly brooding moments that arise sporadically on Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile.
Boris’ twenty-eighth studio album won’t be an easy listen for anyone hoping for the band to occasionally slide into something glam metal or blues rock influenced. At no moment does anything here come close to resembling those genres stylistically. Still, with a collection this continuously clamorous, it’s strangely easy to fall under Boris’ trademark stoner metal spell that somehow manages to weave its way into and through each of the ten songs on Heavy Rocks 2022.