Baroness: Yellow & green
06/08/12 || The Duff
Anyone with their ear to the ground will have heard that Baroness have taken an even further step away from their rowdy E.P. days. When “Blue Record” was released, I was being told by friends that Baroness was the future of metal. In hearing the album, I quickly cast such an opinion aside – far less riff-oriented, but in time the upbeat music and seriously infectious vocals wormed in, and now several years on I’m finding our opinions to have switched places: Baroness definitely have something going for them.
Well, ever the endearing concept, naming your albums after colours, Baroness are back with a double-album effort where the aggression more toned down and once more the strength of songwriting taking charge. Some have said that one record to be stronger than the other, or even that both come across as a hit-and-miss mess, but to me, while both discs are on the short side, they complement each other exceptionally and together form a whole greater than their individual parts.
“Yellow” is considered to be the stronger of the two, but me myself and anyone into mellow music might think otherwise. “Green” still has it’s heavier sections (it opens like the last two Ulcerate records, oddly enough, with that twisted, ominous lead-up), but going from one to the other is hardly a rollercoaster ride. Baroness have put a lot of thought in making the moods ebb and flow, altogether forming something that eases you into an emotional arc only to let you down softly chilled. The only questionable thing to most of you will be the influences adopted.
In many ways this reminds me of Mastodon’s “The Hunter”, an album my opinion of which has been reviewed many times over the past year. Yes, it’s less obviously riff-oriented, but the greater focus on beautifully rendered vocal lines and intricate guitar work makes it an enjoyable, bold and almost necessary evolution. That said, Baroness on record are much more of a live band than Mastodon, who’ve the studio backing to go any which way they want; Baroness have written songs that are very raw indeed, and the longevity of “Yellow and Green” may suffer as a result. Not to sound completely dour, but there are practically no fat Southern riffs on either record.
As for the influences, they range from punk, funk, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, hints of Southern rock, post-rock, arena-rock, pop (or radio-friendly, as you prefer), country, jingly-jangly shit, Maiden/Sabbath harmonic melodies, very simplified, fast-paced, galloping chug-thrash, and those clean lush sections Baroness so easily excel at. What will be most shocking to most will surely be the most electronica suited drum beats as well as actual electronic samples and other whirly-bobs; I find it a decent mix altogether, and for a first venture Baroness have done remarkably well, but there is the sense they’re either overstretching themselves or simply running out of ideas.
It’s not for me to say, but I’m only six or seven listens into this; while I find the music rich in places and beautifully sparse in others, and then plain all-out rockin’ in yet more, I question whether this will grow on me as a double-disc masterpiece (as with “Red and Blue”, in many ways) or just fade out into obscurity for a bold choice taken that didn’t pay off. It appears to be revealing more with each listen, but at the same time the core of each track is very quickly identified. Who knows the outcome, but the mix of lush, downcast and uplifting is a good one, and for now, even if just a quick-fix, I’m enjoying these two discs immensely.
Also, if you switch the albums around, and spell them out abbreviated, you get G&Y.
- Released: 2012
- Label: Relapse Records
- Website: www.baronessmusic.com
- John Baizley: vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards
- Peter Adams: vocals, guitar
- Allen Blickle: drums
- 01. Yellow Theme
- 02. Take My Bones Away
- 03. March to the Sea
- 04. Little Things
- 05. Twinkler
- 06. Cocainium
- 07. Back Where I Belong
- 08. Sea Lungs
- 09. Eula
- 01. Green Theme
- 02. Board Up the House
- 03. Mtns. (The Crown & Anchor)
- 04. Foolsong
- 05. Collapse
- 06. Psalms Alive
- 07. Stretchmarker
- 08. The Line Between
- 09. If I Forget Thee, Lowcountry