Review Summary: Boss Keloid's music still melts itself onto your psyche, but this time the musical focus treads more unfamiliar territory.
Over the last few years, Holy Roar has been rife with fresh European metal talent such as Employed to Serve, Møl and Conjurer, not to mention guiding the brilliant resurgence of Rolo Tomassi. One such band that have made a name for themselves-thanks in no small part to their own record label, the aforementioned Holy Roar-is Boss Keloid, demonstrating quickly with previous effort Herb Your Enthusiasm
that they had something special and with last year's Bloodstock appearance certainly rocketed into the UK live circuit as one of England's most promising stoner metal groups. 2018 sees the release of the band's latest album, the bemusingly entitled Melted on the Inch
, an album that heralds further ventures into progressive/avant-garde territory without eschewing what made Boss Keloid as highly regarded as they are today.
Melted on the Inch
is certainly an intriguing listen. Opener "Chronosiam" demonstrates a clear focus on those warped bass grooves and Alex Hurst's unmistakeably gruff vocal work, yet at the same time seems to embrace a new musical direction which has more in common with, say, Crack the Skye
-era Mastodon than it does High on Fire. Weirder still, Boss Keloid now seem intent on providing a slightly more laidback albeit much less menacing instrumental performance. Indeed, songs such as "Peykruve" and "Jromalih" are rife with intricate guitar-led melodies and bluesy, jazzy keyboard flourishes which herald journeys into unfamiliar territory. Even closer "Griffonbrass" has a stronghold on the band's rhythm section work, making the guitar feel more organic and natural rather than forced and gritty in its performance. In fact, there are times in Melted on the Inch
when sludge metal as a sub-genre isn't even relevant, and you're convinced that Boss Keloid are actually a hard band to pigeonhole.
What's important here however is that Boss Keloid are still very much Boss Keloid. They haven't completely wandered into new musical realms so much as they've embraced a wider musical scope, meaning that their usual brand of sludge metal is more open
, for want of a better term. "Lokannok" may be in love with synthesisers and utilizes a generally relaxed flow through its near six-minute runtime, but the swagger of those rhythmic grooves and Hurst's vocal delivery will always bring the listener back to familiar territory, even if the latter aspect seems slightly overdone at times. "Chronosiam" begins strangely enough but it only takes a minute or so for the band to go back to what made Herb Your Enthusiasm
so engaging and fresh in the first place, and "Peykruve", despite being arguably the most "out-there" song on this album, never deviates from a main groove which is a lot more simplistic than it appears at first glance. The only real flaw here is that with every song, transitions between different moods aren't so seamless and unfortunately this will mess with the listener's concentration span. "Tarku Shavel", for example, is very versatile in this respect, but its loose musical ends seem untied and the fact remains that it is more a case of two songs being heard rather than one seven-minute progressive, sludgy opus maintaining its consistency. "Peykruve" suffers a similar problem, losing itself in bizarre keyboard compositions but at this point proving an interlude rather than a piece of music which devotes itself to the progression of the song's mid-section.
With this said, it's clear that, even at the threat of losing their mainstream appeal (I.e., the festival appearances, the fresh take on sludge metal), Boss Keloid seem quite satisfied to take what worked on Herb Your Enthusiasm
and develop it gradually into new, contorted forms. Perhaps the transition isn't as straightforward as it would appear on Melted on the Inch
, but it certainly gives the band-and their growing fanbase, for that matter-time and space to mould this creative musical direction into a more consistent and memorable style which should definitely render Boss Keloid in a world of their own.