Review Summary: Take old Mastodon, and mix it with some Isis. Though it is deeper than that.
John Baizley - guitar, vocals
Brian Blickle - guitar
Summer Welch - bass
Allen Blickle - drums
Maybe you don't realize it, but John Baizley is rather famous - at least, in the metal community. I myself am a fan of his work, and it's pretty much everywhere. His art ranges from the covers of Darkest Hour
's and Pig Destroyer
's latest albums, to the whole range of Sounds of the Underground Tour art, and a long list of band T's. It's enough to say his art is amazing, but the music? Put Baroness to the list of recent bands starting to form around the Savannah, Georgia hotbed, next to Mastodon
, Light Pupil Dilate
, and Kysela
. The band has a clear southern influence on their sound, and the production is raw. Standing on their own, they bring a sound that mixes progressive metal, sludge/doom elements, and a twist of post-metal.
Instrumentally, the band is sound. Crafting lengthy interludes, with heavy climaxes and weaving guitars, the band barely plays a dull moment (minus the lengthy and boring Wanderlust
). The bass is fairly audible, and adds a key low section to the entire album. The album opener Rays of Pinion
slowly builds till the vocals hit, and then you notice something. This band is pretty much, in every way, a combination of Mastodon
. Baizley has a very similar bellow to Brent Hinds, and a throaty grunt not unlike Aaron Turner's. Though not necessarily a bad thing, it slows down an album bent on defying conventional genre definitions.
On towards The Birthing
, Baroness bring the album's shining example of excellent guitar work towards the second half of the album's second song. Dividing the two sections of the song is an effective bass fill, and is overall an incredible song. The next track is another guitar-driven track, and features a very suitable intro. It's obvious to see these two tracks show their clear Mastodon
ian influence, with a clear focus on heavy, complex riffs and long instrumental sections.
Hitting us next is the song Wailing Wintry Wind
, which easily shows off their ability to craft lengthy and complex sections of pure instrument bliss. For the first two minutes or so, the guitar takes a back seat, instead filling in an ambient role as some solid work from the drumming side of things appears. For the next two minutes, we're treated to some exceptional and melodic guitar riffs. At four minutes the track hits its high point when the guitars deepen and Baizley's vocals bursts this ever expanding bubble. Breaking up these amazing songs is Cockroach En Fleur
, a marvelous acoustic interlude, showcasing there true southern heritage. The downside to this is that the next track is by far the album's weakest.
starts out on a great foot, providing the same insatiably technical guitar as previous songs, along with some solid drumming. Then you realize this song starts to drag for its entire four minute and thirty second duration. The guitar work behind the vocals seems out of place, and the same riff is repeated a countless amount of times. Finally it ends, bringing up the superb song Aleph
. Opening with some more slower guitar work, the void of heaviness is once filled as the guitars get heavy and the bass kicks in. The drums shine again in this album, with many a drum roll here, though not nearly as overdone as Brann Dailor at the Mastodon
After this comes the two shortest “real” songs (both around the two and a half minute mark) on the album, Teeth of a Cogwheel
, and O'Appalachia
. The first of the two features a catchy riff, with complex drumming in the backround. The second of the two is by far the better, with standout guitar work throughout, yet again, and more of the throaty vocals of John Baizley. The “catchiest” and arguably the most accessible of all the tracks, O'Appalachia
still doesn't disappoint. The slowest track on the album, Grad
, is a fitting close to an album fueled by aggression. A stand-out climax rivaling Isis' best is the highlight of the track. The song picks up towards the end, and then before you know it the album slows to its finale. An album in the running for my album-of-the-year.
Despite the large, glaring influences staring you right back in the face, Baroness
have crafted a fine debut worthy of standing next to their peer's albums Leviathan
. Even through this, the album is rather different and should definitely be heard. Very highly recommended to fans of Mastodon
, and more so if you are a fan of both them and Isis
Rays on Pinion