Guitars that shout at the moon, drums that boom like asteroids playing bumper-cars.
Mike Diver 2010
It’s not enough to simply be loud – if you’re gonna rock, you’re gonna mean it, or else any audience is going to be fair-weather at best. London-based Japanese four-piece Bo Ningen sound, throughout this debut album, like their absolute lives depend on their crowd having the best possible time – and having seen them in the flesh (and hair, all over the place), it’s an emphatic yes from the other side of the barrier. They don’t do this for the cash at the end of the night or the pennies made from flogging their recordings. They do it because without it, they’d die.
The first five tracks flash by quickly – echoes of Black Mountain and Black Sabbath, guitars that sound as if they’re shouting at the moon, drums that boom like asteroids playing bumper-cars. Opener 4 Seconds lasts longer than its title implies, but it only takes a heartbeat for the song to have flooded into the veins like some sort of pyrotechnic parasite, setting off spasms of unabashed adulation. It’s the same feeling one would have from strapping rockets to their rollerskates – a fiery, risky business indeed, but while it works: amazing. That the track is apparently inspired by extreme Japanese porn is neither here nor there.
The ‘Yurayura’ of the second track translates as ‘floating’, but there’s nothing ethereal about a number which buries itself in the synapses through brute force rather than airy elegance. Not that it’s especially heavy – driving is a more suitable description, its powerful persistence a winning element. Shrieked, distressed vocals add urgency to the spiky guitars of Koroshitai Kimochi, and Kage is a fantastic dirge one moment and a blissful reflection the next, only to climax with the sort of psych-rock maelstrom that Comets on Fire made their name with.
A pair of longer, slower tracks in the second half – Maguro and the closer, listed as a triangle – are tailor-made for the stoner-rock masses and earn this outfit a comparison to another group of noise-lovers from the Far East, Boris. But while Boris have proven to be a little too eclectic for their own good on occasion, Bo Ningen remain focused on what they know at this stage – and that, simply, is to rock until another day dawns, and then rock all over again. As if they don’t, the next day might not arrive at all.