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Gig Review: Boris + supports, Sydney

Boris + Dumbsaint + Hawkmoth
Newtown Social Club
28 May 2015
Review and photo by Rod Hunt

As regular visitors to Australia, long running Japanese trio Boris have established a loyal following in this country. So it was no surprise when the first Sydney date announced at the Newtown Social Club quickly sold out.

While tonight’s show at the same venue (the second announcement) isn’t, as far as I’m aware, at capacity, the room is already looking very busy as Hawkmoth get underway. Live, their sound is a gripping one, melding weighty, sludgy riffs with atmospheric passages. While the audience are, you would assume, primarily here to see Boris, they offer their full attention to the local opening act.

Last year the four piece released an impressive album, ‘Calamitas’ – if you enjoy instrumental post-metal in the vein of Russian Circles, Hawkmoth are well worth investigating.

Dumbsaint normally project original film footage shot especially for each song to enhance their live show. Unfortunately it is, I imagine, impractical on this occasion, considering the small stage size and the fact that they’re playing in front of Boris’ already set up backline, which as per usual includes a huge gong; the band’s two guitarists play on the floor, as was the case with Hawkmoth.

Their first song begins in a gentle way before slowly building in intensity and franticness. The sound of this post-rock instrumental outfit from Sydney is one that seamlessly ebbs and flows – the mood is as reflective and introspective as it is hypnotically heavy and brooding.

They’re warmly received by the crowd, despite being without the visual accompaniment that fans have become accustomed to. A live taste of some new material bodes well for Dumbsaint’s forthcoming new album, ‘Panorama, In Ten Pieces’.

Smoke fills the room as Boris take to the stage, in front of a room full of fans who like the band themselves, can’t be easily categorised as followers of one specific genre. They begin with the supremely hooky and huge sounding ‘Melody’, off last year’s ‘Noise’ album, featuring Takeshi – vocalist, guitarist and bassist (thanks to his amazing looking twin necked guitar and bass) – on lead vocals.

‘Pink’, from their much lauded 2005 album of the same name, follows straight after and picks up the tempo, lending more of a heads down rock feel to proceedings. It’s a killer song, but the frequent cries of ‘wooh!’ from drummer/vocalist Atsuo are already starting to grate – best to tune out and ignore it, because past experience tells this writer that it’s an ingrained part of his shtick.

‘Statement’, from their ‘Smile’ album, comes next and is a short and fast stoner rock ‘n’ roll workout featuring blistering leads by diminutive but consummate vocalist/guitarist, Wata. ‘Ghost of Romance’ is a total change of pace, with its slow and gentle yet noisy, shoe-gaze like approach.

“Play something fucking heavy!” demands one punter, and they do, as the delicate opening strains of ‘Heavy Rain’ give way to crushing riffage, delivered at doom speed, juxtaposed against Wata’s ghostly vocals. The song breaks down to just Atsuo’s powerhouse drumming, before he counts into ‘Taiyo No Baka’, a concise, upbeat pop rock track found on their ‘Noise’ full length. How many other bands could attempt that live and make it work? Not many.

‘Cosmos Pt.2’, with Takeshi on lead vocals, is eerie, melodic and massive in scope. ‘Angel’ is a slow building epic that draws you into its vortex, but at times this reviewer’s focus begins to drift, somewhere post the ten-minute mark… Thankfully, Boris’ next song, ‘Quicksilver’, kicks in hard, fast, dirty and relentless.

So far, tonight’s song selection is heavily weighted towards the band’s most recent album ‘Noise’. What we need now is a dose of droning doom metal and ‘Vomitself’ delivers exactly that. A monster track from their appropriately titled ‘Amplifier Worship’ album (stacks of Orange and Ampeg amps and speaker boxes fill the stage tonight), it demolishes everything in its path and is pure sonic bliss.

By set’s end, the impossible to pigeonhole trio have managed to work a diverse range of songs together into a set that on paper shouldn’t gel, and make it utterly compelling.

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