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.