On the other side of the musical spectrum, another Japanese trio, joined bynone other thanStephen O’Malleyhimself, came together for a one hour long droning spectacle in the form of their debut ‘Absolutego’. Seeing the wall of amps stretching over the entire Main Stage brought to mind a memory of another festival where terrified security guards, just before Electric Wizard came onto stage, started handing out earplugs to the front rows, telling people it might ‘get a bit loud’. Even though Boris‘audience should’ve known what they were getting themselves into, some were still spotted without any ear protection. Ouch. The monstrous droning soundscapes they built from amp-feedbacking and ambient echoes reminded me how incredibly ahead of its time their music was some 20 odd years ago and how au courant and relevant it still sounded. Considering the band’s expanding musical exploration over the years, it was particularly fascinating to see in flesh where it all once started.
Amenra & Boris – Thekla, Bristol, UK February 14th 2018
The pairing of Belgian post-metal masters Amenra and experimental Japanese noise-makers Boris on this co-headlong European tour of which the setting of the Thekla in Bristol was the first date was always going to be a dream match for music lovers who revel in the beauty of noise, both bands ability to manipulate that into something beautiful and mystifying was an event that was not to be missed, especially if you were a diehard fan and the packed audience here tonight certainly witnessed something that can only be described as awe inspiring. There may have been some attendees who had come just for Boris or just for Amenra, and if there were, both would have discovered the parallels and similarities that both bands have and the musical kinship that they share. The main thing is that they are both cut from the same sonic cloth and both delivered a masterclass in glorious discordance.
This week, two metal titans – Boris of Japan and Amenraof Belgium – embark on a co-headlining tour of Europe. Both are bands known for their intense music and equally intense live shows – albeit in different ways – with a wealth of material behind them and a core of dedicated listeners. Boris celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary last year with the album DEAR, a celebration of all things Boris, and a glorious final statement from the band. Amenra, too, are approaching their second decade as a band, maintaining a steady and consistent creative output through personal turmoil and band member side-projects. Last year’s Mass VI is as emotionally heavy and soul-bearing as any of the project’s works; more than any band, Amenra channel their strength through hardship. With the first date of the tour on the horizon, Takeshi of Boris and Colin H. van Eeckhout of Amenra kindly took the time to answer questions I had for them about their bands’ legacies, creative processes and their relationship with each other.