Taking a look back at Boris’ Amplifier Worship
Named after a Melvins song, Japanese band Boris formed in 1992 and since then have gone on to release 41 albums, collaborating with the likes of Merzbow and Sunn 0))) and constantly shifting genres from Drone/Doom to Shoegaze to straight up J-Pop at times. Calling Boris prolific seems like a massive understatement and getting into them can be an incredibly daunting task. Although, with so many different styles there’s a little something for everyone in their discography. I’ve been a pretty huge fan of Boris for a while now, and I have a theory for why they decided to start to genre-hop so much (aside from just wanting to make different kinds of music): Boris perfected the Doom/Drone sound with their second LP, Amplifier Worship.
Originally released in 1998 and recently reissued on Third Man Records, Amplifier Worship sounds exactly how you would expect an album called Amplifier Worship to sound. Seismic guitars playing the heaviest psych drones imaginable, pummelling tribal drums and chanted vocals throughout. It’s like a heavy metal séance; Orange amps arranged in a consecrated circle, casting a spell on any who listen.
While remaining bone-crushingly heavy throughout most of the album, Amplifier Worship takes on an almost meditative quality. Opener ‘Huge’ is probably the most standard song here, with a sludgy, Melvins like drone and drummer Atsuo’s ungodly screams breaking through the noise. However, it’s after that where things get interesting. ‘Ganbouki’ starts with a classic doom riff but progresses into a ritual drum passage with sliding bass that conjures images of dancers around a fire, the sort of thing you’d expect to hear during a DMT trip. ‘Hama’ flips the script yet again, with the first couple minutes being an awesome punk rock pastiche while keeping the deep desert riffing before quieting down, building up to an explosive finale. Penultimate track ‘Kuruimizu’ carries on from the previous track being loud and fast in the opening until the cacophony gives way to a melancholic, clean post-rock section, like the comedown from an acid trip. This gives way to the drone track ‘Vomitself’, a moment of reflection perhaps and a fitting end to an album that’s essentially a deep trip.
Amplifier Worship is an absolute underrated gem, perfect for psyche fans and metal fans alike. With the reissue on Third Man Records making the album available on streaming for the first time, there’s no better time to experience one of the best Drone/Doom albums of all time.
Words by Jack Vincent