August 5th, 2008 5:33 pm | by GEOFF NUDELMAN Music | Posted In: Live Cuts

Boris, Torche, Lair of the Minotaur, July 31, Hawthorne Theatre

boris posterSometimes people pitch us reviews, like out of the blue! We thought Geoff's was worth running. -Ed.

Sad is the time in every band's existence when they plateau after an amazing album and start to slide downhill both in recorded and live performances. This time around, Japanese Heavy Metal legends Boris have fallen into this trap and cannot seem to get out.

The band may have peaked after the release of the epic Pink and subsequent non-stop touring when a stop to Satyricon sent everyone in attendance on a Shoegaze-induced trip. Ever since the release of their latest full-length Smile, that same intrigue just hasn't been there.

I should have known something was up as the night began with generic “Metal” trio Lair of the Minotaur whose songs I could have sworn I had heard before on about 20 other albums released this year. Their constant screaming and overcompensated guitar solos really did nothing to warm up a crowd of Southern Lord Records obsessors.

I might just get attacked by every metalhead in Portland when I say this, but Torche may have been the best act of the night in terms of energy and excitement. It has been a long time since I've seen a guitarist mesmerize an entire crowd with his skills and passion for his instrument. This was something reminiscent of a '70s Americana experience. Guitarist Juan Montoya treated his instrument as his idol as he threw it down in a mad fury and then proceeded to rapidly pick it up and storm to the very edge of the stage to let those lucky enough in front (including myself) to pluck the strings on the neck of his guitar. Surely a moment ingrained in my mind for life.

After that energetic display, it seemed that the only energy coming from the headliners was drummer Atsuo and his all-white blazer and pants. He constantly pointed to his ears and signaled the crowd to start yelling and cheering which was hard since Boris mostly reflected upon their most recent material for performance. They did play the title track from Pink, which was by far the most crowd involved piece of the evening.

But what was sad to see was the lack of enthusiasm from the other members and touring guitarist legend Michio Kurihara. This was not the same band I saw a year-and-a-half ago. I just didn't get the same shivers down my spine and fear of being killed by the heaviness of their music that I did before.

“Pink” may have been their plateau, and it was absolutely heart-breaking to see one of the greatest metal acts of the last 10 years start to fade. If Boris were to return to the heyday of the absolute psychedelic heaviness of their previous works, they would defy the stereotype and solidify their place in metal history. But, if Boris continues to lose the individuality of their live show and albums, we may never again see the absolute Metal destruction of yesteryear.


Image courtesy of Mike Thrasher Presents
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