Boss Keloid – Melted on the Inch

In the wake of 2016’s Herb Your Enthusiasm (Black Bow), Wigan’s Boss Keloid established themselves as one of the best Metal bands in the UK. New album Melted on the Inch (Holy Roar) make a quantum leap into new, genuinely progressive territory yet still creating a contender for album of the year.

Herb… was direct, dirty, and gravitational-pull levels of heavy. But the herby haze has cleared for Melted on the Inch; the relentless dirge has been replaced with all manner of different shades and styles. The core sound – bellowing, gravelly vocals over an endless supply of dirty, down-tuned grooves – is still present, but it’s surrounded by heavy hints of rock, prog, funk, and just about any other influence you can think of.

Opening track ‘Chronosiam’ exemplifies this new approach, combining the heavy sludge of old with a bigger, more anthemic sound. Vocalist Alex Hurst shows off far more of his range – fans of his previous works with The Hicks will welcome the return of his clean vocals, and the addition of a keyboardist Matthew Milne adds an extra layer. ‘Tarku Shavel’ offers something more mellow and more somber in tone, but still manages to be uplifting at the same time.

The band themselves describe Melted… as “more” in every aspect: “more progressive, more uplifting, more melancholic… heavier, more delicate, it has more beauty, it has more darkness.” And this is a spot on assessment. There’s a lot of experimentation going on; interesting time-signatures, jazzy segues, and layers of instrumentation that you don’t expect. The change in style takes a while to take in, and repeated listens are required.

Jromalih’ marks the halfway point and highlight of the record. Probably the heaviest song on the album, it combines a filthy groove with memorable vocal hooks and spacey synthesizers. The last two tracks, ‘Lokannok’ and ‘Griffonbrass’ continue the mix of incredibly heavy juxtaposing with light moments to hammer home the riffs when they cut in. There’s a hell of a lot going on throughout every moment, but there’s nary a second it isn’t all great to listen to.

Melted on the Inch is a complete curveball from what came before; the core blueprints might be the same, but the end result is a different monster entirely. In most cases such a volte-face in the wake of such a quality album as Herb Your Enthusiasm would have been a disaster, but Boss Keloid make it work and show what real progression sounds like.

A weird beast of a record, but a beast nonetheless.