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Borer

Bag Seeker

Review by Craig Leahy

Look man, I’m a humble guy. I live pretty low-key, I do my best to avoid my friends in public with the classic check my phone and cross the street move, if you text me there’s a high chance I’ll respond in about 3 weeks and say ‘oh shit sorry man didn’t see this’. But as New Zealand’s single most famous music critic, the weight of my celebrity can get overwhelming.

My breaking point happened not two days ago, when a rabid fan went too far. 

There’s a girl who from this day forward will be known as an enemy of Gone for Smokes, for the sake of her anonymity, we’ll call her Genevieve. The other day I was dropping my beautiful daughter down to day-care out here in god’s favourite suburb, Stokes Valley. For those who haven’t stepped foot into a day-care before, it’s a fucking warzone. Once you arrive, you open a front door to a tranquil reception with some lady who’s always SO fucking happy even though you can physically feel the weight of her day and you can see that people are tiptoeing around her, but for some reason she is the only person who hasn’t realised her day sucks yet.

 God I’d love to see her breaking point.

 The reception has one further door, which once opened unleashes the sound of every Merzbow album being played at the same time. Seriously there’s maybe 40 kids all screaming and sharing whatever opinion happens to be going through their head at that specific moment. One kid hanging off the roof screaming his favourite Wiggles lyrics, one girl crying that no one loves her (probably true) and a couple drunk kids continuously proposing a two-state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict that clearly misses the nuance of the situation. I wade through the legion of emotional terrorists with my daughter clinging onto my Necrophagist tee shirt, her eyes just begging me to take her home. I put her with the other babies that haven’t turned into total fuckin’ wankers yet and get ready to go. Just as I’m about to leave I see Genevieve running toward me, oh, yea Genevieve is a 4-year-old by the way. Genevieve is the daily hurdle I must climb to go to work, fuck she’s such a punisher man, always on some shit I don’t care about, she never engages with my opinions or asks how I’m doing, always just looking for a break in the conversation to spearhead her next stupid thought into it. 


She finally reaches me, completely out of breath, because she’s a fucking slob, looks me in the eye and says ‘DAAADDDYYYY!!’, clings onto my leg, looks me in the eye again and screams “DADDY!” one more time, just in case I didn’t hear her the first time. I look her right in her stupid fuckin’ face and say ‘Bro I’m not your dad’ and go to swat her away. As I’m swatting her, I realise her hand is in my pocket and she’s dead-ass trying to take my phone. This is not the first time there has been a planned effort by a fan to get access to my Gone for Smokes notes on my notes app, and you know what Genevieve, if you actually worked on your agility instead of burning your entire day gossiping in the sandbox you may have got it. 

God it’s crazy how much I hate this kid, like a dedicated, specific rage that you would apply to a 36-year-old man. Look man, if you’re wondering why I spent all this time writing about that asshole and how it relates to what we’re talking about today, it’s just that I think I really need to start smoking weed man. It seems like the only way to really be able to sit Genevieve down and connect with her and finally convince her that I’m not her dad. Fuck what if it turned out I actually was though, Stokes is a pretty small place.

 

There’s only one group of boys I can trust to push me back into the enthusiasm-less void of being a stoner, and that’s the absolute homies, Borer.

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True story, I gave up smoking weed over 10 years ago but thought it would be fun to review this album after a couple days smoking some shit. I went online to get a prescription and get some medicinal weed after hearing how easy it was to convince the medical dorks you need it, then saw that it involved a 30 minute Zoom meeting and thought nah fuck that, after that I realised I couldn’t even be fucked getting in the car and getting some from one of the homies in town either, so I just made a bunch of espressos instead, haha.

 

And I tell you what, this is NOT the album to be spinning after 3 espressos, fuck me.

 

For those unfamiliar with the boys, sit back, drink 3 espressos and let me tell you about our unkempt friends from Not Wellington, Borer.

 

Borer are a Doom-sludge band from Christchurch, New Zealand, who all kind of look like they own guns.  With song titles like ‘Bag Seeker’ and ‘Ket Witch’ it’s pretty safe to say the boys dabble in some pretty specific past time activities, but along with becoming majority shareholders in Cannasouth after an afternoon on the beers and running wild with the Sharesies app, they’re also absolute marketing geniuses. Borer have mastered an age-old rule when releasing a doom album – Just when it feels like the whole world is bored of doom again, that’s when the most beautiful moment of any generation happens… Bongripper drop another album. Like clockwork, everyone will remember how fucking cool doom is, all of a sudden every mother fucker is pretending they’ve been listening to doom forever and buys every album from every band that has even thought about touching a fuzz pedal. Then BAM, you drop your fuckin’ album man. Shit is genius man. Also, check out the new Bongripper, it’s fucking amazing.

 

Alright we gotta talk about this band man.

 

Now look man, I try to avoid too much sincerity when writing these things, but fuck man, apologies to the boys in advance, I’ve got some things I want to say about Bag Seeker that honestly aren’t that comical and a bit outside of my usual writing style when contributing to Gone for Smokes, so just indulge me for a bit then we can talk about how Greg probably cums weird or discuss Boden’s failed dating app ‘AirDND’ that aims to link nerds with established dungeon masters or whatever bullshit I decide to make up about the boys later on. Far out, you know what? AirDND is such a good idea to corner the Dorito breath market, and I’m assuming me publishing this review gives me legal claim on the idea, so fuck outta here with your idea stealing.

 

Okay, the sincerity…

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I’ve been a massive fan of Borer for about 3 or 4 years at this point. I was pretty much New Zealand’s biggest Yarnspinner (Thomas' previous band) fan and when I heard Thomas was doing a new project I was immediately sold. Over that time my relationship with their music has become this deeply personal, intimate and almost idealistic experience. Few years ago, one of my bands, Glassblower, was playing down in Christchurch and Borer were on the bill. I gave Thomas and Boden a big ass hug and they gave me a cassette of their EP ‘Priest Thrower’. Since that night every time I wanted to listen to Borer, I’d have to go down and sit alone in my home office, dig out my Tascam 4 track cassette recorder, run it through my interface then deal with how shit my Tascam is. The warble of the tape, the cassette heads that are on their last legs, the grimy overtones it put on any tape I played in it, they all became a part of the experience. The warble of the cassette, as I sat with a couple beers, felt almost like it was buckling under the pressure of Boden’s riffs and Greg’s bass tone, or the existential weight of Thomas’ gnarled, visceral screaming, the shitty cassette head creating artifacts in the production that I could never tell if they were intentional, dude it was awesome, it almost felt like that was exactly how you were supposed to enjoy Priest Thrower, you know?

 

Like, I knew Priest Thrower was on Bandcamp and YouTube, but I really grew to love the whole ritual of listening to Borer alone in my office, it became an almost textile experience. Even now, I’m 3 months into my time with my review copy of Bag Seeker that was given to me by Landmine Records (Shot Nick) and every spin I can remember exactly how my office smelled of coffee combined with the lingering overtones of whatever vape juice I’d been smoking that week. I remember how it was always slightly too cold whatever time of day I was in there, I'd fondly recall my frustration of never being able get the lighting right in there so I was always just slightly uncomfortable. Fuck man even typing that makes me miss the feeling of knowing my Tascam was cowering at the sound of this fucking juggernaut of a band. I had that moment of pure nostalgia every single time I chucked on Bag Seeker, and that’s something you can’t fuckin’ replicate man, that’s a relationship that is so deeply personal to me, and I fucking love it, I love this fucking band man. I truly hope there is a cassette release planned for Bag Seeker, I will absolutely be first in line to get one, and if there isn’t I will sure as fuck be first to bootleg the hell out of it and make some money outside Borer shows.

 

So yea man, I know it comes across kinda lame, but I really have this almost romanticised relationship with this band and even though I barely ever get to see the boys, I’m so overwhelmed with pride when I listen to Bag Seeker. This isn’t just a cool doom record that you’ll chuck on every so often and go away thinking you should listen to Electric Wizard or some shit, Bag Seeker is the official welcoming of a group of MASSIVELY fucking deserving boys to a wider audience, and I can’t wait to be that cunt at their shows being like ‘uh yea but did you listen to Priest Thrower on cassette in your shit home office while your life falls apart?’ and if you’ve known me longer than 5 minutes, you fucking know I’m going to be that guy.

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Within 30 seconds of the title track opening Bag Seeker, starting you know exactly what you’re in for. This is a thick ass, fuzz laden hunk of home-kill that not only beats the shit out of you on first listen, but it also rewards future listens. There’s so much atmosphere, weight and girth to these tracks that it’s impossible to soak in the breadth and scope of what these songs are trying to portray in one listen. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve spun this thing over the last 3 months, and I’m still having moments of self-reflection after listening to a track like ‘Ket Witch’. Ket Witch offers the listener a moment of reprieve with a passage that is a moody, brittle, almost vulnerable journey for the listener to be introspective, whether that be philosophical, or just smoking a spliff and thinking ‘man this is sick’ because both feelings are fucking awesome. Ket Witch really hit me man, it’s hard to properly portray, but it’s a real moment for me, thinking back to sitting in my office with my cassette of Priest Thrower, then listening to this just fucking beautiful passage, knowing the platform they have to bring this shit to a much larger audience, is honestly just kind of fucking awesome. CHE THE FUCKIN’ BOYS.

Breaking down what each member brings to this band it really shines light on why Borer are such a monumental breath of fresh air for me in 2024. If we look at Thomas for example, his vocal attack is so fucking bleak it literally changes the feel of some of the riffs. His vocals sound like a throat being torn out of a boar straight after someone called it fat while it was already having a bad day, they wouldn’t be out of place in a band like Gorgoroth or Abigor, I fucking love hearing this style of vocal on this kind of record. Greg is a fucking MONSTER of a bass player, dude is always in the right place at the right time, especially in this style as it can be REALLY easy to overplay but Greg always manages to be interesting without taking away from the overall composition. It helps that Josh and Greg are so clearly locked in at this point and everything they do serves to enhance what the other person is doing. I can’t even tell if they’re doing this intentionally or it just ended up that way, but man these two work well together. Josh never overplays but is always present, which doesn’t sound like a compliment, but truly, anyone can be flashy, the real challenge on a record like this is being engaging and memorable while doing everything to push the composition forward, I fucking loved his performance here.

 

This brings me to the boys Boden and Tim on guitars. Tim wasn’t actually on the Priest Thrower EP, he joined late 2022. Anyone who knows Tim’s guitar work knows he is a monster player man. Tim’s presence and contributions on this album are VERY apparent, his solos are SO fucking tasty, never overwhelming and even though they’re technically incredible, they never take away from the work Boden is putting in on rhythm, because they’re not solos for the sake of solos, they’re masterfully played and relevant contributions to the song structure, not just some insecure bedroom guitarist asshole trying to show how much he can sweep pick. I can’t understate how much I fucking love Tim’s playing on this album, like, I legit get excited when I know a solo is coming up – If you want a frame of reference, listen to his lead work on the track ‘Lord of the Hanged’. Which brings me to Boden, fuck me where do I start with Boden. Okay, if you’ve ever talked to Boden, you know he’s super humble, would be the last person to hype himself up and would most likely downplay his contributions in Borer. But you know what Boden? Get fucked. His work on Bag Seeker is mind-blowingly good, he hits all the hallmarks that I look for in a guitarist that I want in a band – His tone is fucking CRUSHING, his all scratch the exact itch you want scratched on this type of record and his sense of what a song actually needs is exceptional. I got asked recently why I haven’t done anything in the doom genre for years, my response was that I just hate that so many people just seem to play like they want to ‘get their shit in’ like, no one in Wellington seemed to play for the sake of the song, only for what made them look like a mean guitarist, when the fuck did it become that everything a guitarist plays has to be flashy or people will think they’re shit? No word of a lie, Boden’s performance on this record makes him the exact type of guitarist that would motivate me to put out a doom record again, I can’t even put into words how much I appreciate what he’s doing here man, just go listen to the rhythm guitars on this record and tell me I’m wrong, but if you tell me I’m wrong I promise you I’ll smack your fuckin’ face in.

 

Okay, okay, circle jerk aside, the real spirit of this album comes from when you embrace the weight of Borer as a sum of its parts instead of just what each member is doing, it really transcends just being another doom record with stoner tendencies. Like, yea of course parts sound like Electric Wizard, and yea man there’s totally influence from bands like Weedeater, but I never once found myself picking out riffs or passages and saying ‘oh there’s the Dopethrone part’ or ‘oh man I should really chuck on Mephistofeles after this’. Bag Seeker is reminiscent of other bands in the genre, but instead of reminding me of these bands, it inspired me to remember why I loved this genre so much, it reminded me how much doom music inspired my song writing back in my days playing in bands like Opium Eater and legitimately had me pick my guitar up again for the first time since my daughter was born, that’s fuckin’ real man, Boden just so we’re clear, because of you my daughter is getting 10% less attention, that’s on you man. Bag Seeker isn’t just another doom record, Bag Seeker is a love letter to an entire genre, a real fuckin smutty one too (remember Greg cums weird) and that love letter will direct your hard and/or wide on straight back to a genre that, well, got kind of stale with the state of new releases over the years

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If you want the purest representation of this album being the most untouchable doom release this country will have all year, please, please, PLEASE go out of your way to listen to the track ‘Lord of the Hanged’ after a few beers and an argument with your mum. At a 20 minute run-time, the track still feels like it could be 10 minutes longer. Nick from Landmine Records even threatened that he would question our friendship if I didn’t love it, and honest to god I went into this album TRYING to dislike that song just so I could get under his skin a bit, maybe tell him Blindfolded haven’t been good since Erin Simpson, you know? Really get in his head a bit.  But dammit if he wasn’t right. This song should be mandated by law to be played at every South Island funeral for the next 50 years. My only hope is that a bunch of kids hear Lord of the Hanged, quit school, start smoking heaps of fuckin’ weed and start punishing cunts with slow riffs and samples of bong water bubbling (because kids value originality). If anything, just to keep those fucking zoomer slam kids in line.


As is tradition, I grade everything on a scale of if it could bash me in a fight, and especially now that the espressos are wearing off and I’m getting a bit sleepy, just the thought of Thomas’ big old workboots is enough for me to immediately concede and admit defeat to the almighty Borer. You win this round boys, see you next Bongripper release.

 

 

Bag Seeker is out May 10th on Landmine Records and can be pre-ordered HERE. I HIGHLY recommend that you do.

 

 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m nursing a mean caffeine comedown, I need to go lie down, put a pillow between my thighs, get all cozy and listen to Lord of the fucking Hanged man.

 

**AirDND is a registered trademark of the Gone for Smokes corporation

**All Rights Reserved

**Any fuckin’ nerd using that name for their own person profit will be bullied online via website rants, have a deep-fake sex tape released and not allowed to do guest solos on my new doom record.

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