Written By: John Rabb
Label: Relapse Records – Rating:
Released October 13th by Relapse Records, Baroness’ Blue Record is considered the sister album to their previously released Red Album. Like all great pairings, Blue Record and Red Album are a contrasting duo.
The red has a multi-layered, muscular sound while the blue is an all together different beast. The sound of the new offering is complex and hard to categorize, containing traces of mainstream metal, progressive rock, Southern rock, and the straightforward approach of an indie rock band. For those listeners wary of extreme heavy metal, Blue Record offers an all inclusive quality and a sound outside the genre.
All the old influences from Red Album are present on Blue Record, making them fitting companion pieces, but the new album seems to have a more refined palette. “Steel that Sleeps the Eye” is a bluesy, acoustic interlude reminiscent of Alice in Chains that contains layered vocal harmonies and psychedelic lyrics. The mood set by the track provides a perfect segue for the more robust “Swollen and Halo.” The furious pace of “The Sweetest Curse” is countered by a delicate string of acoustic guitars, while “Blackpowder Orchard” is a pastoral piece that harkens back to later Led Zeppelin.
For all its frills, though, Blue Record is a meat and potatoes hard rock / metal album at the core. “Jake Leg” is fast and groovy, with intricate harmonies and riffs that give way to powerful vocal lines. “A Horse Called Golgotha” is a brilliant blend of the band’s earlier work and their more accessible recent sound, while “The Gnashing” is pure hard rock, bringing the album to a powerful climax with a stomping percussion three minutes in. Blue Record closes with the pensive “Bullhead’s Lament,” which acts as a reprisal of the opening instrumental melody and brings the album to a close full circle.
Because of its incredible sequencing, Blue Record flows extremely well, contains epic rises and falls, and feels like a unified, cohesive collection of songs. In an already impressive year of heavy releases, Baroness has managed to set the standard with Blue Record. The result is an intricate and complex work of art that rocks hard, but is far more accessible than its predecessor, and even quite pretty at times.
• John Dyer Baizley – vocals, guitar, piano, artwork
• Allen Blickle – drums
• Pete Adams – guitar, vocals
• Summer Welch – bass