Album review: Boss Keloid – Family The Smiling Thrush

Wigan prog-doomsters Boss Keloid smash into a land of nightmares and dreamscapes on wonderfully trippy fifth album…

Album review: Boss Keloid – Family The Smiling Thrush
Sam Law

Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stranger. That certainly seems to be the case for Wigan sludgemasters Boss Keloid, who have been hammering away in the UK underground for over a decade now and seem to have beaten themselves loose at the hinges.

Over the course of five excellent albums, the relatively straightforward stoner-doom of old has been stretched and reshaped, more closely resembling dextrous prog in its experimental song structures nowadays than the sort of druggy bludgeon you’d expect from scene leaders like Orange Goblin or Electric Wizard.

In one sense, the bewilderingly-titled Family The Smiling Thrush picks up logically where 2018’s equally out-there Melted On The Inch left off. As its seven tracks play out, though, it becomes clear that this is a far more lucid realisation of Boss Keloid’s twisted vision than we’ve seen before.

Raising curtain with a mid-paced melange of off-kilter keys and rumbling low-end, nine-minute opener Orange Of Noyne revels in its disinterest in allowing casual listeners an easy way in, but eventually opens out into a psychedelic showcase that never tries to substitute cold technicality for mind-melting atmosphere. Gentle Clovis and Hats The Mandrill sound like lost songs from the golden age of psych-rock resurrected on a cocktail of steroids and stimulants. Sort-of title-track Smiling Thrush lets loose some truly chest-crushing bludgeon, but always feels like its reaching for the sun rather than pounding its listeners into the dark.

Obviously, this won’t be an album for everyone. Indeed, with the wilful weirdness of tracks like Cecil Succulent (think Mastodon at their most proggily agitated) and Grendle (woozier than a fairground hangover) stacked side by side, that’s kind of the point. If you’ve stuck around long enough to get sucked into dizzying closer Flatt Controller, though, chances are you won’t be long checking in for a repeat trip.

Rating: 4/5

For fans of: Ohhms, Windhand, Sleep

Family The Smiling Thrush is released on June 11 via Ripple

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