Boris returns

Second annual metal fest unites the local scene

As Atlanta's whiplash metal scene continues to ride the lightning, Boris Records has amassed an arsenal of mostly 7-inch singles by local headbangers. However, the recent arrival of Peruvian black metal trio Morbid Slaughter's "Wicca" (b/w "Nightly Breath of God") 7-inch, the label has begun looking for new acts far beyond Atlanta. But make no mistake, the city that's too busy to hate remains the focus of Boris Records' metal maelstrom. This month the label hosts Boris Fest II, the second annual gathering of metal heads from Atlanta and throughout the Southeast. The mission: Give a stage to Atlanta's extreme metal scene — kind of. "Really, it's an excuse to throw a party," says a laughing Sam Leyja, who founded Boris Records in 2011.

Leyja, who works as an animator at Turner Studios and plays organ with local rockers Tiger! Tiger!, began releasing singles and other recordings when he noticed the rejuvenation of the local metal scene. "A handful of bands were playing exciting stuff," Leyja says. "Bands come and go, though. I wanted to document some of them."

Since then Boris has debuted singles, EPs, and one 12-inch from Atlanta acts including thrash and death metal purists Sadistic Ritual, Disfigurement, hard rock purists Gunpowder Gray, and others.

For this year's fest, seasoned death metal act Withered headlines a night of performances alongside Gunpowder Gray, and gutter metal mutants Mangled, Cesspool, Vimur, and Birmingham, Al. shredders Ectovoid. All of these bands are part of the region's booming metal scene, which finds a flashpoint here in Atlanta. "The sound isn't as homogenous as the Bay area or Gothenburg, but the attack is relentless," says local metal show regular Scott DePlonty. "Having perfected their chops at legendary shows in warehouses, basements of art galleries, clubs, and of all places a Jack's pizza parlor, these bands are ready to infect the world."

The label's first 10 releases span an array of death metal permutations ranging from stoner masters Spewtilator to Sadistic Ritual. "I've been a metal head since the '70s," Leyja says. "I grew up listening to thrash and death metal when they were something new. Back then there weren't as many bands to choose from — not like it is now. So I gave a listen to anything new that came along."

For Mangled guitarist Rafay Nabeel, Leyja's efforts give an identity to his band and his hometown peers. "If you want to listen to what Atlanta has to offer in terms of death, thrash, or black metal, Boris is where to look," Nabeel says.

The recent arrival of Morbid Slaughter's 7-inch finds the label shifting gears somewhat. It's Boris' first release by a band that's not from the region. There's also a Morbid Slaughter full-length in the works along with a 7-inch by fellow Peruvian metal masters Maze of Terror. Still, Boris has several local releases in the works including a Mangled/Coffin Dust split EP. Whether booking a festival, releasing music, or just looking for an excuse to party, Boris is doing its part to keep the scene charged. "Looking beyond Atlanta is something that's always been in the back of my head," Leyja says. "It happened sooner than I thought it would, but my focus will always be on local music."