At AMG Headquarters last week, as a number of us were gathered around the bench press station during our allocated one hour of yard time, discussions turned from who could bench the most, 1 to personal tastes when it comes to genres to review. When I was finally allowed to talk, I said I like my dad metal, sure, but I also enjoy deeply of prog, doom, some stoner — and I like it all to be just a little off-kilter. Well, members of Boss Keloid must have been standing nearby, because Melted on the Inch, their third album, ticks all my non-dad-metal boxes. And it ticks them all in fine fashion.
Hailing from the beautiful town of Wigan in the U.K., Boss Keloid are named after an old Iron Monkey song. The group started off as a fairly pure but slightly odd sludge band, with big riffs, long songs, and a singer in Alex Hurst who is sludge’s answer to Clutch’s Neil Fallon. Having not listened to the band prior to Melted on the Inch landing in my lap, I quickly dove into their first two albums and confirmed the above. I can also confirm that this latest album is a big leap forward for the band — musically, creatively, and performance-wise. I suspect this has to do with a key lineup addition: Matthew Milne brings his keyboard expertise to bear on Melted on the Inch, adding an unforeseen dimension to the songs. And boy, does it ever work.
Right off the bat, we’ve got an olde psychedelic keyboard/guitar intro to “Chronosiam,” making us think we’re in for a 60s-themed treat. But the feeling is short-lived as the band launches into massive riffs and Hurst’s larger-than-life vocals. You can hear the unbridled verve throughout a song that is as dynamic and catchy as anything out there right now. It’s a fantastic opening track that flies by despite its seven-minute length — and that’s the case for the whole album. Merely six songs in total, only one of the tracks is less than six minutes long, but all are arranged such that you can’t stop listening. “Griffonbrass” closes Melted on the Inch with a piledriver of a riff that is matched by Hurst’s microphone abuse. Quirky moments of stoner meanderings are strewn throughout the song, keeping us listeners on our toes. And there isn’t a weak spot in between these two bookends.
Boss Keloid’s earlier albums featured catchy riffs and great vocal melodies, but the added layers of the psychedelic keyboards and the more progressive arrangements really set Melted on the Inch apart from anything else I’ve heard this year. Each song is a surprise. “Peykruve” opens with a thick, dense reggae beat before the band kicks into a stuttering melody, and the intro to “Jromalih” could have been pulled from Paul Simon’s Rhythm of the Saints album before it slithers into ’60s psychedelia. Like the rest of the album, though, both songs eventually leap into sludgy riff monsters and gigantic vocal melodies. These songs are catchy, engrossing mashups of all the genres I like, with nary a misstep along the way. The beauty of a six-song album is that, in this case anyhow, there’s absolutely no filler. Each song is its own beast, and despite the fact that Hurst is a monster of a vocalist, the band more than holds its own, with a locked-in rhythm section and some great guitar work.
Melted on the Inch is all about pushing creative limits and taking a positive approach. On top of that, it’s about doing what you want, critics be damned, and that’s reflected in all aspects of the effort here. The album title can be taken to mean anything you want it to, according to Hurst, while the song titles are pure nonsensical words that have yet to be deciphered. The album cover is just something they thought looked cool. But take that philosophy and mix it in with talented musicians who write excellent songs — not just riffs, but the whole shebang — and it’s obvious Boss Keloid have delivered one of the more enjoyable and surprising albums of the year so far – one that’s quite likely going to make my Top Ten-ish list come December.