The warping chords opening The warping chords opening Herb Your Enthusiasm (Black Bow Records), the third full-length from Wigan wags Boss Keloid, are utterly suffocating. What the band has shown with previous output, however, is a basis in the Low-end rather than a reliance on it, and so this enthralling opening proves. As heavy as a rampaging mammoth yet chock-full of groove and Eastern influence, and with a guest holler from Conan’s Jon Davis, ‘Lung Mountain’ is as enlivening as a Clutch rampage.
The swaying, hypnotic growl of ‘Haarlem Struggle’ has many facets: an acoustic intro leading to portentous, snaking inflections, Jazz-infused passages and a pummeling coda. Alex Hurst’s vocal range helps the fluidity immensely, soaring from low roars toward that Davis-esque scream which appears more powerful with Hurst’s strong vibrato.
Paul Swarbrick’s string work is an unsung factor: not merely laying down riffs weighed with chains, it switches and skews with abandon, dictating those mystic patterns and dressing the brutal rhythms in fuzzed leads. Indeed despite the obvious Stoner references, there is an abundance of passion and variety here. The deep, barreling rut of ‘Axis Of Green’ is downright filthy: its ploughing furrows oozing sex and fizzing with a lazy, heavy Funk vibe; its three-quarter an impossibly long moan from Hurst issuing from a curious, medieval-flavoured key riff.
A blend of easy chants and Alice in Chains’ troubled melancholy, lends an almost balladic quality to the resonant yet subtle rhythms of ‘Lung Valley’. Whilst the band’s myriad influences roll together in the living, pulsating ‘Hot Priest’: a quirky Jazz organ bridging elements of knee-crushing, tortoise boogie, raw sexuality bleeding from the crunching verses, whilst more vocal versatility and harmony lead to an oscillating, howling finale.
That much of this album is a story of the Weed is not up for debate. Unlike many such offerings however, Herb Your Enthusiasm possesses true Soul and variation and this makes it a truly immersive, exciting experience. It’s debatable whether the UK Metal Underground has ever been in such rude health; Boss Keloid certainly hasn’t. Much like its subject matter this meaningful, rutting beast will continue to grow.
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