AOTY 2021

Boris: Best To Worst

Boris & Merzbow - Rock Dream
Merzbow helps Boris to perfect their already perfect songs, and it results in some of the most transcendental music you could ever hear.

Favourite Track: Feedbacker
Boris - Dronevil -Final-
It's actually shocking how this isn't a commonly cited top-tier Boris release. It can easily go toe-to-toe with any of their drone masterpieces, even Feedbacker and Flood which are already some of my favourite metal albums of all time, let alone drone. Admittedly though, I could see myself utterly despising this album if I ever decided to get my hands on the physical copy and be forced to give into the abysmal gimmick they decided to do with this album. That said, if you view the two discs as separate, yeah, it's awful. It's just bland ambience on one disc and empty noise on the other. But when listened the way it was intended (and how it realistically should have been released), it becomes one of their most amazing works. Just three brilliant drone metal songs that even gives Feedbacker a run for its money.

Favourite Track: Loose/Red
Boris - Boris at Last -Feedbacker-
A complete perfection of the drone metal genre. There are no other words that I can think of that can best describe this album than "transcendental". Amazing start to finish, and one of the most intense records Boris have ever done, which is most definitely saying something.

Favourite Track: Feedbacker (all parts)
Boris - Flood
An album that is perfect for my tastes; atmospheric, patient, and some of the most incredible build-ups and pay-offs in all of drone and post-rock.

Favourite Track: Flood III
Boris - Dronevil
Made obsolete by the -Final- version, but hey, at least the material here is some of their absolute best.

Favourite Track: Interference Demon/The Evilone Which Sobs
Boris - Pink
Boris perfect their stoner rock sound, and it's amazing.

Favourite Track: Just Abandoned Myself
Boris - Performing "flood"
An excellent performance of an excellent song. Some would argue that this is the best version of Flood due to parts I and IV being shortened by a lot, but honestly, the fact that it's missing both of those is what makes this the obvious weaker version to me. I mean, maybe a shortened part IV is fine, but the intro being shortened that much definitely ruined a lot of the build up to me. The indie rock-style intro to the studio version, although generally seen as one of the weakest parts of the album, does such an excellent job at building up the atmosphere so that, when it all comes crashing down, it hits you so much more. Meanwhile, the chaotic noise that takes up the first three-or-four minutes of this performance, although good, doesn't at all set up for the shotgun blast that is the meat of the track. But that said, at the end of the day it's still Flood. Y'know, one of the best drone and post-rock songs ever made? And the performance is done excellently. So needless to say, it's good.

Favourite Track: Flood
Boris - Smile
The definitive Smile; the best versions of the songs from the album, making each and every one undeniably memorable, and adding some classics, all performed excellently. Oh, and did I mention they added a whole ten minutes to the untitled track? Amazing stuff.

Favourite Track: [untitled]
Boris - Akuma No Uta
Boris go stoner metal, and it ends up being some amazing stuff.

Favourite Track: Akuma No Uta
Boris & Merzbow - 2R0I2P0
Boris team up with Merzbow to recreate some of their songs, to some downright transcendental results.

Favourite Track: Evol
Boris - Smile
The superior studio Smile. It's a lot noisier and rough-around-the-edges, making it a lot more Boris-like, but the other one is still worth a listen or two. Oh, and the fact that the best songs are a number of minutes longer definitely makes this one more notable.

Favourite Track: [untitled]
Keiji Haino With Boris - Black: Implication Flooding
Noisy, droney guitar sounds.
Honestly one of the most overlooked albums from either artist. It's incredibly dark, atmospheric, even scary at times, and manages to stand out as one of the most interesting rock collaborations that I've come across.

Favourite Track: The Person Who, What is S/he Like, the One Who Has Been Determined and Prepared
Boris - Absolutego
One of those albums that I feel is going to show its true colours after many, many listens over an extended period of time. Consisting of a single, hour-long song, Absolutego has a lot for a drone fan to fawn over, as well as twenty minutes of looped feedback which harms the replay-value.

Favourite Track: Absolutego
Boris - Amplifier Worship
Boris' sophomore project follows the single, hour-long drone song format of their debut, but this time sludgier and while splitting it up into five distinct parts. Amplifier Worship is arguably their first truly great release, though I personally think that Absolutego had a more rewarding pay-off for the build-up. Still, this album is great front-to-back, with some delightfully forceful pay-offs and incredible build-ups.

Favourite Track: Kuruimizu
Boris - Live! Amplifier Worship
Live performances from 1997-1998, with almost all of the Amplifier Worship album being performed. It would probably be blasphemous to call it better than the studio version, especially considering it's missing Vomitself, but the energy of these performances and the overall quality definitely makes it a strong contender. Honestly, I probably would confidently rank it higher if it wasn't for the fact that I know for a fact that I'll be returning to the studio version a hell of a lot more, but that doesn't change the fact that this is on damn-near equal footing.

Favourite Track: Kuruimizu
Boris - bootleg -feedbacker- remaster
A great live performance of Feedbacker in its entirety, but without all of the long sections of feedback build-up, which, depending on who you ask, is either a positive or a negative. It would be a positive to me, and on paper that would lead me to believe that this is actually better than the studio version, but honestly, the audio quality - as expected from a bootleg recording - is so low quality that I can barely get through it without a headache. A masterpiece of a song and performed excellently, but it's robbed of its place in my personal top five thanks to its crappy audio quality.

Favourite Track: Boris At Last -Feedbacker-
Boris - Smile
The U.S. version of Smile shortens some of the tracks to make room for two bonus songs and cleans up the production a bit. Honestly, both studio recordings of Smile are great, but this one is definitely the weaker of the two, and probably only worth listening to after hearing the Japanese version. They both have their pros and cons, but this one just kinda rubs me the wrong way at times, while the other feels more like what I'd want from Boris.

Favourite Track: Flower Sun Rain
Boris - Volume Four "Evil Stack Live"
Liver performances of songs from Heavy Rocks and Akuma No Uta. Surprisingly, a lot of these are better than their studio counterpart, making this a definite must-hear for any fan of either of those albums.

Favourite Track: Naki Kyoku
Boris - Heavy Rocks
A prime example of an album suffering because it's TOO consistent. The songs individually are amazing and arguably some of the best of Boris' stoner metal output, with them being some of their catchiest songs to date and having some amazing riffs, but I seriously cannot stomach getting through this without taking a break every ten or so minutes. It just gets too monotone and obnoxious for me, which is a shame because again, these songs are seriously fantastic when taken on their own.

Favourite Track: Heavy Friends
Boris - NO
After a whole decade's worth of uninspiring material, Boris finally sound fresh and exciting again. This crust punk sound works surprisingly well for them, and it makes for one of their best albums in years.

Favourite Track: Genesis
Boris - New Album 2009
A previously unreleased gem. It's a wonder why it took so long for this material to see the light of day, but I guess it's may be down to how drastically Boris would change their sound in the 2010s. Needless to say, this was a good goodbye to a great decade of music for them, with some great songs and just being an overall enjoyable listen.

Favourite Track: Luna
Boris & Sunn O))) - Altar
A collaboration that both sounds nothing like you would expect from either artist but makes complete sense once you actually get around to listening to it. It's safe to say that it isn't the strongest either artist has to offer, but it's undeniable that they mesh really well together, making a unique drone experience that you most likely aren't going to find anywhere else.

Favourite Track: Blood Swamp
Boris - LφVE & EVφL
Easily their best studio release of the 2010s. There's nice pschedelic moments, some great stoner and drone metal moments, and it's just an overall enjoyable listen, which you unfortunately can't say for the majority of their releases during that decade. That said, all of these songs are much better with Merzbow in 2R0I2P0.

Favourite Track: Coma
Boris - Vein
Boris go noisecore/crust punk, and it's damn good. Some real abrasive shit here that never once loses steam.

Favourite Track: Track 12
Boris - Cosmos
A surprisingly good post-rock release. It's actually surprising how this has flown under the radar for most people. It's only fifteen minutes long and consisting of three songs; one full-blown rock song bookended by two atmospheric beauties. It may not amount to one of the band's most noteworthy releases, but it's a damn good one from by far the band's most controversial period.

Favourite Track: Cosmos Part 3
Boris - Vein
That's some noisy noise right there.
Boris go full harsh noise but with drums, making it not only a really unique record in their discography, but in the entirety of harsh noise. I mean, noise with rhythm? Hell yeah.

Favourite Track: Untitled 1
Boris with Michio Kurihara - Rainbow
Not the most mind-blowing thing they've ever done, but it's always nice to see Boris going with a much different pace from what they were known for at the time. Michio Kurihara's guitar work definitely brings a lot to the table, and there are quite a few truly great songs on here, though the track listing as a whole is pretty hit-or-miss.

Favourite Track: Sweet No. 1
Boris - Mr. Shortkill
The first track is a great Heavy Rocks-type song, twelve minutes long and never boring. The other two tracks are good as well, but this EP is certainly made by that first track.

Favourite Track: キルミスター -Killmister- incl. "Many Are Called, But Few Get Up" (Man)
Boris & Merzbow - Walrus / Groon
Boris cover Spooky Tooth's cover of The Beatles' I Am The Walrus, and it's some damn good stuff. Oh yeah, and Merzbow's there.
There's also Groon which takes up the B side, but it's honestly a very pointless tracks all things considered. It's essentially just a noise jam session. Ultimately this whole EP is simply a novelty release to hear two japanese metal and noise legends cover a legendary song, most likely released to hype up their monumental live album that they would release just a few months down the road.

Favourite Track: Walrus
Choukoku No Niwa & Boris - More Echoes, Touching Air Landscape
A split LP in which Boris are one-upped by some obscure band that nobody's heard of and have only done one other record after this. Boris' two-part song is the standard drone stuff of their earlier days but with a less satisfying and more annoyingly repetitive pay-off, whereas Niwa's song is a psychedelic drone gem.

Favourite Track: Fukurou
Boris - Volume Three "2 Long Songs"
There's two long songs alright. Live performances of Absolutego and Flood. The former is a good performance, the latter is a phenomenal performance, though I don't think it's possible to fuck up such an amazing song anyway.

Favourite Track: Flood
Boris & Merzbow - 04092001
Who'da thought that a low-quality recording of Boris performing live while Merzbow just plays static louder than the band themselves would be such a fun listen?
With that said, the actual quality and replay-ability of this album isn't too different from their first collaboration, Megatone, but the energy brought to the table thanks to it being live really helps make this one a more enjoyable experience.

Favourite Track: untitled (side two)
Boris - Sound Track from the Film "Mabuta no Ura" (Essence)
A soundtrack to an imaginary film. That said, there's a hell of a lot of ambience, but also some nice noise rock moments as well. What you get is a very pleasant post-rock record that has a little of everything Boris have to offer, but is ultimately forgettable when compared with the rest of their discography, redundant and completely inessential.

Favourite Track: Space Behind Me
Boris - Dear
A return to form of sorts (not that Boris were ever really a band to have a form), returning to some sludgey drone metal. That said, it's good for the most part, but completely forgettable and inessential in the grand scheme of things.

Favourite Track: Absolutego
Boris & Merzbow - Klatter
The re-recordings of Akuma No Uta and Naki Kyoku are pretty damn good, and the Introduction track is also quite a good tone-setting track, but the Jane cover and title track honestly feel like filler that goes on for longer than it needed to. Hell, this whole album feels quite fillery, which is understandable. It had been recorded way back in 2004, so I assume they only released this when they did because Boris was in a transitional phase and they wanted to put out something from their glory days for the fans.

Favourite Track: Naki Kyoku
Boris with Michio Kurihara - Cloud Chamber
(Note that it seems that Part 2 has been wiped from the face of the internet, so I'm judging from the first half of the record)
Droning noise, similar to the Thing Which Solomon Overlooked series. Not bad for what it is, but it definitely feels like filler, and seeing how their other collaboration with Michio Kurihara was Rainbow, it is a wonder how they went and made something like this afterwards.

Favourite Track: Cloud Chamber Part 1
Boris - Volume Five "Pink Days"
Live performances from their Pink U.S. tour. Despite the set list being phenomenal and some of these songs being absolutely stunningly performed, I just find it hard to get into thanks to the low quality recordings.

Favourite Track: The Evilone Which Sobs
Boris - Sound Track from Film "Mabuta no Ura"
This lacks the added 13 minutes that helped bring a bit more quality to the Essence version, so it's not as good. Still a pleasant listen though.

Favourite Track: A bao a qu
Boris & Merzbow - Megatone
Dronenoise for the patient. It's some alright stuff which is definitely suited for someone who enjoys both noise and drone, and especially extremely slow performances of those genres, but it is admittedly one-note and not particularly impressive all things considered. Not the greatest first album from these long-time collaborators.

Favourite Track: Encounter With the Inside of the Wavemotion of Great Water Fuzz
Boris - The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked 3
Solomon should really get some glasses. How the hell does he keep overlooking these things?
Definitely the best of the initial trilogy, though not by much. This one feels the most like it deserves to be in their discography, with the majority of the run time actually being pretty damn good drone. But there's also the same issues that plagues the previous two albums, being that it can feel like some of their most pointless drone yet, but still, at least this one is a lot more consistent than the other two.

Favourite Track: Leviathan
Boris - The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked
Seems like Solomon overlooked this thing so hard that it caused everyone who's ever listened to it themselves to overlook it as well. Honestly though, you can't really blame them. It's just 39 minutes of noisy drone with no pay-off. Even though I did actually enjoy listening to this a couple times, I really can't see myself ever returning to this, and there really isn't any way the average Boris fan would adore this, let alone someone new to drone and noise.

Favourite Track: Scene 2
Boris & Merzbow - Sun Baked Snow Cave
I appreciate Sun Baked Snow Cave more than I do actually enjoy listening to it. In many ways, it's a huge improvement over their previous two collaborations (Megatone and 04092001), being a hell of a lot more ambitious, much more effective, and having an encompassing atmosphere that should completely envelope you in hypnotic droney noise. The issue is, it doesn't really succeed at that all that well. It does have its overwhelming moments that you'd expect to hear from an album like this, but it doesn't have nearly enough to really fulfill the hour long run time.

Favourite Track: Sun Baked Snow Cave
Boris - Präparat
Shoegaze-y, post-rock Boris. The result is not bad, but not particularly great either. I really don't mind having it on, but just the thought of forcing myself to listen to it is enough for me. Like, it's fine to have on in the background, but I just really don't care enough to listen to it in full, especially when they have so much greater material that this ultimately falls into the bottom tier of their discography.

Favourite Track: Monologue
Boris - Heavy Rocks
Boris make a Boris album, and it's definitely a Boris album. For an album that is supposed to be a sequel to one of their biggest fan favourite albums, as well as one of their most abrasive and memorable, the second Heavy Rocks really doesn't leave as much of a mark as it really should. There's a few outstanding moments, with the two epics, Missing Pieces and Aileron, sticking out as some near-masterpieces, but most everything else lacks any sort of memorability that it's no surprise that this is often considered one of the weakest of their rock and metal output.

Favourite Track: Aileron
Boris & Merzbow - Gensho
Functions in the same way that Dronevil did - meaning it maintains the same frustrating gimmick that does nothing but annoy the shit out of any purchaser. Boris re-recorded some classics for the first disc, Merzbow made some noise for the second, and you're supposed to put them together. The end result is certainly interesting, but it may just be the least interesting of their collaborations. I don't know if I'm just tired of hearing these songs time and time again, or if Merzbow's noise is starting to get on my nerves, but I just don't get much out of this album. It's nice at times, unlistenable at others, and just overall not a very great listen.

Favourite Track: Resonance
Boris - Volume One "Live 96​-​98"
Live recordings from the late '90s. To be honest, it isn't all that impressive, but the songs from Amplifier Worship are definitely well performed here, though you can find easily better versions elsewhere.

Favourite Track: Huge
Boris - The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked Extra
That silly ol' rascal, Solomon, returned after 8 whole years, only to discover more things which he overlooked.
Honestly, some of these songs are a wonder as to why they didn't make it to the original trilogy. There's some nice atmosphere to be found here, as well as some generally entertaining moments, but as a whole, it's just as forgettable, if not more so than the others.

Favourite Track: 宴 -Unritual-
Boris - Attention Please
Despite its reputation as Boris' worst release (or at least bottom five), Attention Please really isn't as bad as some may imagine it to be. Especially with it being paired with New Album, and it sharing songs with both that album and the purple Heavy Rocks, you'd expect it to be worse. But the material here is actually quite enjoyable, and well done as well. It's more dream pop than it is J-pop, and as such it ends up being quite a nice listen, as well as extremely cohesive, making it all the more re-listenable. So, while Attention Please isn't my go-to Boris album, it certainly isn't one that I write off without hesitation the same way I do New Album.

Favourite Track: Aileron
Boris - Volume Zero "Early Demo"
Just as the title says, it's a bunch of early demos. As you can imagine from their first recordings, there's very little that's actually exciting and a lot of it seems quite amateurish, but it is quite interesting hearing how they started knowing where they would go in the next few years.

Favourite Track: Scar Box
Boris - Noise
Honestly just a bland album, and one of the most dull Boris have to offer. It's just Boris doing Boris stuff, and it isn't anywhere near as exciting as all the other times Boris have done Boris stuff. It's so by-the-numbers that I have to wonder if they even tried to make this a worthwhile project. There may be the occasional gem like Angel or Ghost Of Romance, but then you just get the genericness of Melody and the overly poppy Taiyo No Baka, and I just lose all interest in anything the final product has to offer.

Favourite Track: Ghost Of Romance
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Yooo, a Dronevil lover. One of Boris' most overlooked for sure
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