A Little Background:
Boss Keloid are a band that released their first record back in 2010 called Angular Beef Lesson. Their latest coming out June 4 on Ripple Music continues the strange and bewildering titles called as it is Family The Smiling Thrush. Originally more of a stoner/doom band they have branched out on each release becoming more of a progressive psychedelic rock band with plenty of groove metal thrown in. The band comprising of guitarist and founder member Paul Swarbrick, vocalist/guitarist Alex Hurst, bassist Liam Pendlebury-Green and drummer Ste Arands have recorded 7 tracks that focus on subject matters such as collective strength, community, family, personal grief, communication and inner reflection. The album encourages the listener to be happy about being alive.
Onto The Songs:
Opener “Orang Of Noyn” (what did I say about titles?) has a jazzy opening, quite a strange intro into the vocals. There is a subtlety that pulls you in. There are heavier moments but it focuses more on mood and atmosphere. There is a lovely quirky piece around the 5-minute mark, in fact, there are any number of playful touches within most of the songs. Hypnotic and powerful it is a great start to the album. Second song “Gentle Clovis” is also a single release that has a video (see bottom of review) and is a wonderful trippy experience (as is the video) with several huge riffs and grooves. The melody is totally uplifting when he sings about “building a home on the mountain“. There are several twists and turns making it quite proggy, but it never ever falls into self-indulgence. The song reminds us all that “all born the same, we all start with nothing” whilst encouraging us not to take “more” than we are willing to “give away“. There is around the 5-minute mark an almost Eastern vibe musically, again adding little textures to keep it all interesting.
Giving Hopeful Vibes:
“Hats The Mandrill” at the start made me think a little of a heavier Doors with it sonically being darker than the rest. Around 2:15 and 4:30, there are real hints of Vapor Trail era Rush in the sound or mix! Again later in the song, there is an almost mischievous section before the riff kicks in for about the last time. “Smiling Thrush” is an emotional track yet gives off hopeful vibes. The song was written about the sudden loss of guitarist Paul‘s father last year. It deals with insecurities, grief, confusion and anxiety and I am sure anyone who has experienced similar will both understand and be moved by it. It goes from dark or heavy to light and airy (almost country strangely at points!) musically and with lyrics saying “if we don’t love, how will we ever take flight” and finishing with the line “it’ll be alright” it gives hope and closure. It did sort of remind me thematically of “Seagull” by Bad Company which is high praise indeed.
The wonderfully titled “Cecil Succulent” has a jazzier intro, the sort of 70s rock/fusion music often featured by 70s bands on the legendary UK show The Old Grey Whistle Test. Quite a jolly sounding piece (can take that both ways, in style/mood and the band of the same name). The lyrics are sung in parts in an almost percussive way, like an extra drum beat which is slightly odd-sounding in rhythm. Classic rock in the mellower moments and a touch of Soundgarden or Alice In Chains in the heavier parts. The “HEYS!” punch hard and I can imagine live that will be audience participation time both shouting along and a desire to punch the air. There is a lyric line (if I caught it correctly) that says “fill your head with love and laughter” which I think personally is great advice.
“Grendle” (no connection to the Marillion epic which is spelt differently) opens with a vocal sound that had me thinking of both Mike Patton from Faith No More as well as one of Frank Zappa‘s regular vocalists but with almost Led Zep inspired groove musically. There are moments that hint at their earlier roots being quite doomy. I loved the riffing and the drum fills around the guitar solo on this. The last song “Flatt Controller” (is this a play on a character’s name from Thomas The Tank Engine?) keeps the Faith No More vibe going along with Dog Fashion Disco being quite manic especially the intro. Thudding bass lines, loads of sweet drum fills and plenty nice guitar lines and featuring a delightful stop, start section this is a fine end to the album.
An Album To Lift The Spirits:
Throughout the album, there are some mighty fine arrangements, plenty of groove, tons of riffs, time signature changes and very odd titles which keep you guessing. 7 excellent tracks with no dip in quality to be found, Boss Keloid have delivered a heartwarming upbeat yet thoughtful album which will lift the spirits of anyone listening and by Christ, we all need that after the last year or so. Fingers crossed the band will be able to do their UK tour drawn up for November (see poster for details). I can hardly wait to hear these songs live!
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