In 2016, Wigan-based Boss Keloid released the critically acclaimed Herb Your Enthusiasm album, which firmly placed them at the vanguard of the flourishing UK stoner/sludge metal scene. A host of high profile support slots and festival appearances brought the Keloid word to the masses, and generated a lot of hype around the release of their new record, Melted On The Inch, which was released courtesy of Holy Roar Records, a label which have been on a roll for a long time. The big question was: Do the guys have what it takes to live up to the expectations?
The interrelated stoner, doom and sludge genres can often see bands weighed down in a war to play the lowest notes and sound the “heaviest”, which in itself isn’t a bad thing, but it can lead to a lack of sonic diversity. Boss Keloid have sidestepped that battle and gone where their creative juices have taken them, and that juicy river has flowed straight towards a progressive land. Couple this with a level of production rarely heard on recently released heavy records, and it becomes quite difficult to find any faults to pick at. Ste Arands and Adam Swarbrick provide a rhythm section that drives, but never overpowers, with total clarity in their playing; Paul Swarbrick’s unique guitar tones are crisp, clean and hypnotic; Alex Hurst’s rough yet melodic vocals (think Clutch or early Baroness) sit perfectly in the mix, and are delivered with such dynamic intensity that he may as well be standing in the room with you.
Within 1 minute and 11 seconds of opening track “Chronosiam”, it’s fair to say that we have the basis of our answer. What jumps forth from the speakers is a lusciously produced, immaculately crafted piece of music that shows just how far this band has evolved. While Boss Keloid have always had progressive elements in their songwriting, “Chronosiam” shows that they have truly come to embrace experimentation and all that it can offer. It is a track that is dynamic in being both heavy and delicate, and also full of solid guitar riffs, gorgeous tones and flowing vocal melodies. As if this were not enough, it showcases a chorus practically custom built for packed venues. Taking all this into account, it’s miraculous that at no point does the track feel crowded or overwrought. It is one of the best songs I’ve heard in a while, and quite a bold statement to kick an album off with.
Check out the video for the single “Chronosiam” here.
“Tarku Shavel” continues in the same vein, but with a more laid-back vibe underpinned by that omnipresent full and rich sound. Frontman Alex Hurst’s decision to multitask by adding a second guitar and the addition of Matthew Milne on keys definitely goes a long way to explaining this enhanced sonic delivery, but the keystone to it all is that each of the band members are top notch musicians. Together, they have a knack for exploring and utilizing new and unique musical tones and compositions.
Each of the songs on this album offer something slightly different; be it jazzy instrumental sections, ominous background organ soundscapes, varying time signatures, nifty guitar solos or funky beats, they are all built upon the same solid foundation - that is what makes this album such a joy to listen to. Melted On The Inch is the sound of a band that have hit their songwriting stride and the sound of a group that have found that secret knack of being able to create music that is truly fresh and that will appeal to a wide and varied audience.
With just 6 cryptically named tracks and clocking in at a little over 40 minutes, this is an album with no fat and no filler. Whatever genres of metal or rock you subscribe to, give Melted On The Inch a listen because it is going to be heading up a lot of “Best Of” lists when December rolls around.