Kinda surprised no ones reviewed this album yet. Well I guess I will. Upon first listen I suspected a little difference in the musical direction but as I listen more an more it stays on the same path a bit. I picked up that the band seem to be playing around with melodies a bit more than the previous album and the songs seem to be structured a little better, they sound more like songs than ideas or movements now. One track (A Horse Called Golgotha) stood out the most and is by far the best song on the album imo. With that said the rest of the songs are strong and have their moments. You can really hear how this band has matured and I look forward to the next release whatever colour it may be.
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
I’ve been looking forward to the release of the Blue Record for most of the year. What strikes me first about this album was that it is not as instantly gratifying as the Red Album. I wasn’t sure what to make of the new vocal territories they were exploring and experimenting in. While I do feel that the vocals were better recorded on the Red Album, Baroness continues to impress one of the more interesting approaches to metal vocals in recent years. For example, the vox on “Jake Leg” and “A Horse Called Golgotha” aren’t quite screaming, or singing but are more along the line of Viking drinking songs.
Of course the very best part of Baroness is the rabid interplay between guitarists. The solo work isn’t like the kind of utter refuse that’s made en masse nowadays by the booming metalcore scene. The guitarwork swims, flies, invites you like your soul mate moaning through a speaker; tracks that particularly stand out are “Swollen and Halo,” “Horse,” and “Bullhead’s Psalm/Lament.” The bass is more audible than ever before. The drums are MASSIVE.
Here are some bottom lines: While the Red Album blows you away on first listen, the Blue Record hynotizes you. Give yourself some time, because this is the kind of album that demands listening all the way through, without interruption. For added effect, I HIGHLY reccommend listening to both Red and Blue sequentially.
Lets face it, 2009 was a great year for music. But Baroness is out there on top. This band will go somewhere… this band reminds me so much of a young Mastodon… except, I would go even as far as to saying they harmonize better and write better riffs. I especially love it how the drums go along with the guitars, you dont get that much these days. The vocals are amazing, not for everyone, but to me, their golden. I gotta say, I love this album, every time I listen to it again, I love it even more. WELL worth the money.
What Baroness have done here is to attempt, and successfully execute, something that heretofore had only been attempted by Mastodon on their last couple records. Make an insanely heavy record that packs hooks – whether catchy riffs, vocal melodies, or leads – into every conceivable minute of the album, without sacrificing anything, most especially continuity or atmosphere. It is, undoubtedly, one hell of an undertaking, and most groups are not even capable of trying. Many that might be do not try for fear of failure. It’s a lot easier to just pump out disgusting riffs if that’s what you do well. Baroness has had that down pat from their first EP. But they began combining that unique riff juggernaut with prog rock, southern rock and true pop sensibilities on Red Album, and have damn near perfected the formula they started to delve into there. Blue Record is the sound of a band firing on all cylinders, on every track.
Now what Baroness do is entirely different from what their hard rock brethren in Torche and Queens of the Stone Age (generally) do. While the latter are making groovy, heavy ass pop songs, Baroness are taking heavy metal song formulas and injecting them with so much pop flavor and so many memorable, hummable hooks that it seems at any moment they might burst. But they don’t. They never meander aimlessly. The songs are taught, sometimes perhaps even too concise and direct. That’s how you make six minute tracks seem to fly by in two.
Sure, Baroness have a bit of work to do in the vocal department, if only because they are seemingly demanding the maximum of themselves from a songwriting perspective in every other arena. The instrumention is beyond disgusting, but I think Baroness – scary as this is – can improve. Perhaps the third full length record will see vocals that reach into classic rock territory a la Mastodon’s Crack the Skye (whether Mastodon can replicate those vox live being an entirely different discussion). And if Baroness can do that (which is to say pull off truly epic, soaring melodic vocals) well, there might be no better band on this earth. Because they’ve got just about everything else I personally look for in a band. Amazing, unique riffs that sound familiar but yet not quite like anything else I’ve ever heard – a bizarre blend of Melvins weirdness, southern rock tones and grooves, and math rock complexity. MEGA hooks – lead vocals, choruses, guitar solos, chord progressions and riffs I just can’t get out of my head. Massive heaviness, galloping drums, fiery twin lead guitar work – a band comfortable channeling Iron Maiden, Mountain and the Melvins in the same song. A sense of scope, drama and timing that would make Explosions in the Sky and Pelican proud. Spectacular artwork from guitarist/singer John Dyer Baizley. Blue Record is the total package. This kind of band and this kind of record don’t come around the block that often. Enjoy.
I’ve been looking for something more aggressive than Torche, not as predictable as High on Fire, a groove oriented metal album, something with swing. The Blue Record is the water mark arrangement I’ve been looking for. The Red Album was solid (e.g. The Birthing!!!), but the whole Blue Record experience fits together like a seamless old school 70’s masterpiece. The songs flow with beautiful interludes, then they build into a number of crescendos that force you to listen to the album as a whole. The last three tunes are a perfect fit, with Blackpowder Orchard/The Gnashing/Bullhead’s Lament. The guttural vocals are tempered with harmonies that resemble the dueling vocals found in some Fugazi tunes. You’ll hear more Zeppelin influence on this album than you’ll find on TCV. Most of the faster songs have a strong sing/scream along factor working for them. The music is textured and the songs have hooks, so you can count on listening to the album repeatedly and not getting bored. Of all the tunes, I think the only one that is a misfit is “O’Er Hell and Hide”. The beats and spoken word don’t gel with the rest of the songs, but it’s a respectable tune none the less. Then there’s the artwork! Baizley is a true talent and I hope that he experiences much success as he diversifies and blossoms in the visual art world. This is my pick for best of metal album of 2009.