Boris (band)


Boris live in 2012
Boris live in 2012
Background information
OriginTokyo, Japan
Years active1992–present
Associated acts
  • Atsuo
  • Takeshi
  • Wata
Past members
  • Nagata

Boris (ボリス, Borisu) is a Japanese experimental music band formed in 1992 in Tokyo and composed of drummer Atsuo, guitarist/bassist Takeshi, and guitarist/keyboardist Wata. All three members contribute vocals. Boris has released more than twenty studio albums on various labels around the world, as well as a wide variety of live albums, compilations, EPs, singles, and collaborative albums. They have collaborated with acts such as Sunn O))), Merzbow, Keiji Haino, and guitarist Michio Kurihara.


Boris was originally a four-piece band with Atsuo on lead vocals, Wata on guitar, Takeshi on bass, and Nagata on drums. The band is named after a song of the same name on the Melvins album Bullhead.[1] Boris's debut album Absolutego was released in 1996 on their own record label Fangs Anal Satan. Nagata departed in 1996 and Atsuo switched to drums, while Wata expanded her duties to lead guitar and keyboards, and Takeshi took on bass and rhythm guitar duties on a double-necked instrument of his own design.[2] All three adopted lead vocal duties, and the band has remained a three-piece ever since.[3]

Wata, Vancouver, October 2011

In Japan, Boris release most of their music on the indie label Inoxia Records. Though relatively unknown in their home country, a series of reissues of their early albums on the American label Southern Lord Records caused a surge of popularity in North America.[4] Boris also collaborates with other artists regularly, first on the 1998 album Black: Implication Flooding with experimental musician Keiji Haino.[5] They have released seven collaborative albums with noise artist Merzbow,[6] and have released collaborative albums with international artists like Sunn O)))[7] and Ian Astbury.[8]

Their international popularity was bolstered by their 2005 album Pink, which was met with considerable critical praise and a strong response from music fans when reissued in the US on Southern Lord. Blender magazine and SPIN magazine both named it one of 2006's best albums.[9] The album also topped the metal section of Canadian magazine Exclaim!'s 2006 Reader's Poll, and it was named in the top 10 of Pitchfork Media's Top 50 Records of 2006. They also appeared on the avant-garde metal soundtrack to Jim Jarmusch's film The Limits of Control in 2009. Regarding Boris, Jarmusch said that "what's really remarkable is when they play live they're in the mode, in a way, of jazz musicians, not structurally or musically, but the way they listen to what the others are doing and build on it. Each time they play something it's obviously different, every time."[10]

Boris focus a lot of their time on touring. In an interview, Atsuo said:

"That we tour so much and release so many albums, I think it is representative of what we're about. Direct communication is something we've lost in this day and age. It's a shame – [even] interviews are over [the] phone. I think it's important to see people face to face – that's why it's so important to go on tour. It's something very basic to humans that we've lost lately."[11]

Boris received additional international exposure when they opened for Nine Inch Nails on part of the 2008 segment of the Lights in the Sky tour.[12] From 2011 to 2017, they released several albums on Sargent House Records,[13] and continue to reissue previous albums in new formats.[14] In 2017, the band's 25th anniversary, they considered retirement after one final album. However, a successful songwriting and recording process for that album encouraged the band to continue.[15] The album Dear was released internationally in July 2017 through Sargent House.[16] The album, LφVE & EVφL was released in October 2019 via Jack White's label Third Man Records.[17] While self-isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic, Boris quickly wrote and recorded the album NO, which was self-released in July 2020.[18] In November 2021, the band announced that they planned to release their album W on January 21, 2022.[19]

Musical style and equipment

Throughout their career, Boris have made deliberate efforts to avoid a strong association with any musical style. In particular, they do not consider themselves a heavy metal band despite frequently being categorized as such.[20][21] In an interview, drummer Atsuo stated: "Having some kind of preconceived message or theme is very boring to me. It becomes a crutch. Just say what you want to say."[22]

Atsuo, Vancouver, October 2011

The wide variety of genres used by reviewers to describe Boris's music include experimental music,[23][24] experimental rock,[25] noise music,[26] noise rock,[27] experimental[28]/avant-garde metal,[27] doom metal,[29][30] post-metal,[31] drone metal,[32] sludge metal,[33] psychedelic music,[34] psychedelic rock,[29][35] psychedelic metal,[30] and stoner rock.[36] While they first emerged as a sludge metal band with strong hardcore punk influences,[29] their subsequent releases have employed elements of a wide variety of genres, including drone music,[31] old-school industrial music,[31] ambient music,[26] acid rock,[29] garage rock,[31] shoegazing,[26] dream pop,[31] J-pop,[29] and crust punk.[29]

For example, the band's debut album Absolutego featured a "65-minute track of oozing, slow motion, Melvins-inspired drone rock/metal,"[37] while its follow-up Amplifier Worship incorporated psychedelia and jam band influences.[38] Their third album Flood incorporated elements from drone.[39] Akuma no Uta and Pink engaged in different stylistic experimentation,[40] including shoegazing, stoner rock, and post-rock.[41] Vein (2007) was released in "Hardcore" and "Noise" versions,[1] whereas New Album experimented with electronica and dream pop.[42] The album Noise featured elements from grunge music.[43]

Boris uses many different effects pedals and other guitar accessories while performing live. Wata uses an E-bow to achieve bow-like sounds or to manipulate feedback; this device is held in the hand, like a pick, but relies on a magnetic field vibration to move the guitar's strings.[44] Wata also occasionally plays an accordion and keyboards in concert.[45] Takeshi typically plays a double-necked bass/guitar live, which allows him to play both rhythm guitar during the band's lengthier tracks as well as bass guitar during their more traditional tracks, without needing to switch instruments.[2]

In the studio, Boris records on analog equipment. They use minimal overdubs, recording mostly live.[22]


  • Takeshi – vocals, bass guitar, rhythm guitar (1992–present)
  • Wata – vocals, lead guitar, keyboards (1992–present)
  • Atsuo – vocals (1992–present), drums, tambourine, electronics (1996–present)
  • Nagata – drums (1992–1996)
Support/touring musicians




  1. ^ a b William York. "Boris | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  2. ^ a b Guitars, Michael Astley-Brown 2017-08-07T11:03:14 218Z (7 August 2017). "Rig tour: Boris". MusicRadar. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  3. ^ Altar liner notes (Daymare 3LP pressing)
  4. ^ Terich, Jeff (9 February 2018). "Shadow of the Horns: 20 Years of Southern Lord". Treble. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  5. ^ "Arcane Candy » Blog Archive » Keiji Haino with Boris – Black: Implication Flooding". Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  6. ^ Weingarten, Christopher R. (4 February 2016). "Boris With Merzbow: Play With a Track From Interactive LP". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Sunn O))) & Boris: Altar". Pitchfork. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  8. ^ "BXI Featuring IAN Astbury, Boris: Video Footage, Photos Of Brooklyn Concert Available". Blabbermouth. 12 September 2010.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 9 February 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Jim Jarmusch and Alan Licht, "Invisible Jukebox," The Wire 309, November 2009, p. 23.
  11. ^ Nicolas Millan Inactive Contributor. "Boris: Interview: | Prefix". Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  12. ^ "Boris, HEALTH, the Bug to Open for Nine Inch Nails". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on 12 September 2008. Retrieved 12 September 2008.
  13. ^ "Boris Announces New Album, 'Dear' // Premiering Track, 'Absolutego'". Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  14. ^ "Boris Announce New Album and North American Tour". Pitchfork. 14 May 2019. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  15. ^ Gotrich, Lars (9 May 2017). "Boris Celebrates 25 Years By Cleaving The Earth In Two With 'Absolutego'". NPR. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  16. ^ "Boris 25th Anniversary Album "Dear"". Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  17. ^ "Boris announce new album, LφVE & EVφL, plus North American tour". Consequence of Sound. 14 May 2019. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  18. ^ "Boris Announces New Album No for July 2020 Release and Share New Song "Loveless" -". mxdwn Music. 24 June 2020. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  19. ^ "Boris To Release New Album "W" In January, Premiere "Drowning By Numbers" Video". ThePRP. 30 November 2021. Retrieved 30 November 2021.
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 December 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ "Boris: Genre Defying Japanese 'Rockers' Are Quizzed By Stephen B Murray". The Sleeping Shaman. 9 June 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  22. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 October 2005. Retrieved 22 July 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  23. ^ Bland, Benjamin (15 June 2014). "Interview: Boris". Echoes and Dust. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  24. ^ Dick, Jonathan K. "Boris & Merzbow – Gensho". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  25. ^ Jacobs, Justin (14 September 2009). "Boris to Release Japanese Heavy Rock Hits 7-Inch Series". Paste. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  26. ^ a b c Camp, Zoe (17 June 2014). "Boris – Noise". Pitchfork. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  27. ^ a b Walschots, Natalie Zina (17 June 2014). "Boris – Noise review". Exclaim!. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  28. ^ "So Grim So True So Real: Boris". Invisible Oranges. 14 June 2017. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  29. ^ a b c d e f Bath, Tristan (10 June 2013). "'Noise Is Japanese Blues': An Interview With Boris". The Quietus. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  30. ^ a b Temere, Rex (9 May 2013). "Boris Performs a Lesson in Doom Metal & Sex". Pretext Social Club. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  31. ^ a b c d e Wiederhorn, Jon (4 August 2016). "A Brief History of Post-Metal". Bandcamp. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  32. ^ McClure, Steve (March 2007). "Filtering the Flies". Billboard. Vol. 119 no. 11. p. 14.
  33. ^ Geslani, Michelle (19 May 2014). "Listen: Boris' fiery new rocker "Vanilla"". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  34. ^ Carver, Andrew (31 July 2008). "Boris, Babylon – Ottawa, 13/7/2008". Penny Black Music. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  35. ^ Currin, Grayson Haver (21 March 2016). "Boris / Merzbow: Gensho". Pitchfork. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  36. ^ "Boris". BBC. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  37. ^ "Boris – Absolutego". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  38. ^ "Boris – Amplifier Worship". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  39. ^ "Beginner's Guide: Boris". Treblezine. 5 November 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  40. ^ Eduardo Rivadavia (19 April 2005). "Akuma No Uta – Boris | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  41. ^ Thom Jurek (16 May 2006). "Pink – Boris | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  42. ^ Grayson Currin (20 May 2011). "Boris: Attention Please / Heavy Rocks Album Review". Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  43. ^ Thomas, Fred. "Boris – Noise". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  44. ^ Frankel, Rachel (3 September 2019). She Can Really Lay It Down: 50 Rebels, Rockers, and Musical Revolutionaries. Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-1-4521-7177-7.
  45. ^ Condon, Dan (26 March 2019). "5 amazing Japanese artists you need to hear". Double J. Retrieved 8 October 2019.

External links

  • Official website
  • Boris at AllMusic Edit this at Wikidata
  • Southern Records: Boris Bio
  • The Guide to Boris
  • Boris discography at MusicBrainz