Clever album title in Herb Your Enthusiasm but it barely scratches the surface of how clever the UK’s Boss Keloid are on this, their second full length. Mixing monumental doom, sludge, stoner groove and a progressive bent, this album easily towers above their last. The songwriting alone reaches heights the band has been aiming for since the beginning. Not to mention the slick production that has every instrument purring like a kitten. Cookie cutter this album is not, what it is though is a fresh and enthralling take on the genres found within.
It’s not that Boss Keloid were lacking direction on their debut. Clearly the bones of what this album was to become was there, they’ve just never sounded this good nor been this laser focused. The Calming Influence of Teeth found the band sounding more math based and much less in the way of the stoner sludge persuasion found here. It worked, but after hearing this album there is no doubt they’ve come full circle and not only found what works but what makes the biggest impression on the listener. In addition the many harmonious grooves here worm their way into the brain and linger there like an endearing memory. As with any release, influences abound but the difference here is their influences only serve as reference points. The good thing is anytime an influence starts to sneak into a doomy plod or a sludgy riff the band flips it 180 degrees and does something totally unexpected with it.
First impressions, as they say, are the most lasting and on “Lung Mountain” the phenomenally heavy tone carried throughout the album is all but set. Riffs that could stand on their own two feet atop Sleep’s Holy Mountain and bass work that could shake the very foundations of this mountain are but two of many reasons this effort is the band’s best. Then there’s the unique voice of Alex Hurst that is just as comfortable with snarled growling as with clean annunciation or should I say preaching, as that’s a bit more accurate. Hurst has a booming, authoritative voice that strangely fits and later on “Lung Valley” his singing voice proves to be as good, if not better than the gruffness found elsewhere.
Admittedly any comparisons to YOB are not given freely — to anything — but on “Cone” the band warrants the comparison. Earthy sounding bass tones and immensely broad, heavy guitar work permeates the track. As well, heart filled harmonies and spacious bridges round out the ‘heavier than thou’ feeling of Atma and the gut wrenching emotions of The Unreal Never Lived. And all of this in the same song. But they’re not emulating, rather, taking what’s come before and expanding on that sound. Also in several places throughout — this track being the best example — the stoner metal aspect is all but forgotten as the band forges ahead with their take on thickly layered doom with a nasty edge of sludge.
All this and we’re not done yet. Never a band of one trick ponies, they retain their heavy edge but go prog, prismatic even, on closer “Hot Priest”. Odd sound effects and disjointed time signatures abound throughout the first half. Relenting in the latter half to rolling psychedelic riffs and percussion that’s equally as mind bending. The band show a level of songwriting and creativity generally reserved for elderly statesmen and take full advantage of it. And, all this is achieved with a level of heart and soul that — after hearing this effort multiple times — was the missing link in their previous work.
On Herb Your Enthusiasm, Boss Keloid do what they’ve always aspired to and released an album unlike anything you’ve heard from all of the collective genres represented here. Not only that but they are effectively pushing the boundaries and confines of these genres to new heights. Everything from the band’s collective playing to the production to the songwriting is top notch. The album’s multiple layers and striking compositions greatly reward on successive spins. Plus, it’s an all encompassing and thoroughly addictive album from start to finish. This is an absolute must own album for any music fan of any persuasion; from the casual listener to the most discernible, all will find much to uncover and much more to return to.