Boris with Merzbow Sun Baked Snow Cave

When you cross one of Japan’s leading (and most versatile) retro-minded stoner metal groups, Boris, with their undisputed king of noise music, Merzbow, you might expect something wildly unhinged and aurally assaulting. This couldn’t be further from the truth demonstrated with Sun Baked Snow Cave, on which Merzbow continues his recession into warmer, softer realms and Boris continue to defy expectations and direct categorisation. The single 62-minute track that comprises this collaborative album begins innocently, with barely audible sheets of noise giving way to some contemplative and long-winded acoustic guitar plucking. These two elements eventually come to coalesce for some time, in peaceful harmony. But of course this is all a warm-up for the hellfire that is eventually stoked, about 17 minutes in, when the electric guitars are fired up and Merzbow’s noises really start to cinder. Things really get cookin’ for a while here, though they never really emerge as a fulfilling meal, and the album gets mellow again after this intense high-point of a middle section burns itself out. Sun Baked Snow Cave is still nowhere near the best of either artists on their own, but is an interesting, if not overly drawn out and rather unspectacular collaboration. (Hydra Head)