Review Summary: Stepping out of the shadow of their contemporaries, Baroness create an incredibly well polished and consistent listening experience.
Baroness are: * John Dyer Baizley - vocals/guitar/cover artwork
* Allen Blickle - drums
* Pete Adams - guitar
* Summer Welch - bass
The color blue can take on many meanings. It is sometimes interpreted as calm or happy. Dissimilar to that, it may be described as knowledge, power, integrity, and seriousness. Enter the Blue Record, the second LP by the Georgian metal band Baroness.
There's a lot to say about the band, with very little being said. Baroness seem to be shadowed by their Georgian contemporaries, Mastodon. While there are slight similarities in both bands' sounds, Baroness can hold their own. To compare the two would be unfair, as both are very unique bands. This being the bands sophomore album, one wonders if they have progressed as artists. They've maintained their overall sound while embracing some new ideas. The Red Album was a fine album, but the band has refined their sound, creating an experience that will satisfy both fans and newcomers alike.
Baroness tend to wear their sludge metal title proudly. Harsh and abrasive vocals, distorted instrumentation, and contrasting tempos are all in check. Everything works well together, making for one polished and consistent piece of work. However, the album's main charm doesn't come from a few muddy sounding instruments, but rather from its pure southern aesthetic. The album is full influences that range from southern rock to bluegrass. Baroness utilizes undertones rather than overtones. Instead of the listener getting Skynard stylized riffs thrown at them every few minutes, they are treated with a more subtle approach.
The instrumentation utilized on the Blue Record is greatly varied. This isn't a metal album that spirals into self-indulgent guitar solos, or stays set on a riff. Instead, a happy medium is found. John Baizley and Pete Adams are more then competent, and Summer Welch isn't completely overproduced out of audible range. The band does a fantastic job switching from the heavy "Swollen and Halo," to the more folksy "Blackpowder Orchard." The sounds and moods are constantly changing and the members to a fine job keeping up throughout. It is evident that the band is really having an enjoyable time
There isn't a bad track on the record per se, but I feel it necessary to bring up "O'er Hell and Hide." It's simply the weakest track on the record. Not terrible, just a little uninspired, and most listeners will find themselves skipping it. That being said, the Blue Record has some killer tracks. "Steel that Sleeps the Eye" and "Swollen and Halo" create the focal point of the album. The first being a solemn and calm track leading into the harsher and quicker paced "Swollen and Halo." However, "The Sweetest Curse" and "The Gnashing" are also contenders for the record's top song. Even the interludes are well thought out pieces of music. The same tune heard in the "Bullhead's Psalm" makes appearences in a few of the record's tracks. Details like this really absorb the listener into everything the Blue Record is.
Baroness have released what could easily be a contender for metal album of the year. Full of charm and character, the Blue Record is a great listening experience.