Baroness CD/LP reviewed by Luc Rodgers
Oct 21, 2009, 14:14
BARONESS Blue Album CD/LP
It is a given premonition that if an album is named after a color it will be a dramatic statement, or at least an attempt, by the artist (read: The Beatles' White Album [as you already know that is not the actual title], Jay Z's The Black Album, etc.). With their ballsy debut, Red Album (2007, Relapse Records), Baroness started their widely-available recorded output with such a force that it dumbfounded both heavy music fans and critics alike (named “Album of the Year” by the picky-yet-still-iffy Revolver mag) with its scope and intricate musical playmanship. With grandiose intentions obvious, Baroness has now unleashed the follow-up Blue Record to a salivating fan base with crossed fingers and epic rock hard-ons.
As the intro “Bullhead's Psalm” bleeds into “The Sweetest Curse,” the fans can rest easy and mutter, “Goddamn, yes,” with the utmost confidence.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
While not as focused in subject matter as fellow-Georgianites Mastodon, the journey that begins with the aforementioned tracks is equal, if not beyond their colleague's Crack the Skye (which is fine but can be a bit too serious at times). While a surefire, down-to-business attitude permeates Blue Record, an air of enjoyment coats the album in an enjoyable, road trip worthy record of the highest caliber while still maintaining a wonderful introduction to the non-fan of what is really going on in the heavy underground.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
“Steel That Sleeps the Eye” is a handholding campfire ditty that this fan could've done without. The sheer force of the surrounding “Jake Leg” and “Swollen and Halo” brings into question the need for an acoustic, melodic “breather”; while the majority of the songs are rather intricate and busy, the listener should never feel so overwhelmed that a break of any sorts is needed. The melodies, both prevalent and underlying, pepper each track with a comfort that quilts the cold uninitiated and stands far enough away to please the most extreme hard music fan.
“A Horse Called Golgotha” warns the listener that, “Now is the time/For medication.” Light up because you are delving into the final descent. The instrumental “O'er Hell and Hide” again reminds the listener of the weight and importance of this release; the galloping rhythm beckons one to hop on and continue through the remaining tracks but hold on, it's only gonna get rougher from this point forward. The proclamations of “War, Wisdom, and Rhyme” whiten the knuckles with a collective power while the rhythmic interplay between the drums and vocals appeases the prog nerds. If anyone listening to Blue Record is still talking at this point and not taking it all in they should be asked to leave the room because it is evident that they will not know what it is they are conveyingâ€¦100% attention should be directed towards everything going on.
As it winds down through “The Gnashing” and the closer, “Bullhead's Lament,” any and all needs have been met—there is no longer a hunger nor a thirst for figuring out what the Metal Record of the Year will be. Sure there are harder and more ferocious things out there (look out for the next Death Rattle columnâ€¦) but as far as an acceptance that crosses boundaries and canyons of taste Blue Record has all of it. To make it even more special there is absolutely no frills or pompous attitude involved—this is music straight from the gut. It is merely a matter of do you have the ability to absorb it all.