December 5, 2010 by Dan Swinhoe
As the decade comes to an end, it’s time to reflect. And looking back at the metal releases it’s been a hell of a decade; Machine Head, Mastodon, Lamb of God all releasing landmark albums. The death of Nu-metal and the old guard like Iron Maiden and Metallica conquering the world again. It’s been a good decade.
But this yeah has been a quiet one, a few good releases but no masterpieces. The naughties are threatening to go out not with a bang, but a whisper.
Step in Baroness, the best band you’ve never heard of from Georgia. For a few years they’ve been threatening something great, their First and Second E.P’s showing from the start they were a class above the rest. And 2007’s Red Album took it to the next level. Their mix of heavy yet catchy guitar work and soaring melodies making them underground heroes and critics favourites.
And so to save rock and roll this year comes the Blue record (continuing their run of bad album names) and do they save it in style. It’s the best album this year and sounds effortless.
The first thing that strikes you is John Baizely’s immediately recognizable artwork. The complex yet dazzling scene on the front draws you in before you’ve heard a note. He’s worked with bands ranging from underground acts like Pig Destroyer to the more mainstream Flight Of The Concords and is displaying his works around the U.S, hopefully it will make it here.
Then you move onto the music itself, and what music it is. Opening with Bull’s head Psalm, a mellow acoustic track that flows straight into The Sweetest Curse, it’s the perfect showing of their new sound. The huge sounding guitars remain but instead of the long songs of old that built up, Baroness throw straight you in. All the songs have more of a groove and the melody is far more in the foreground.
Not to say they’ve sold out and make pop songs. This is most definitely a Baroness record. but more. The Steel That Sleeps the Eye is a sweet ballad with menace done like only Baroness can.
The album hits it’s height in the middle with Swollen and Halo and Horse Called Golgotha. These tracks blend the length and skill of previous records with the new upfront style and reach epic proportions in doing so.
The end of the album slows down and brings things to a more than satisfying ending. The Mastodon influence still remains in songs like War, Wisdom And Rhyme but this detracts nothing from a jaw dropping experience as Bullhead’s Lament closes the album as it started to come full circle.
Some bands get big through a hit single, some through lots of PR and some make it through hard work and releases like the Blue Record. If this will make them huge only time will tell, but they’ve given themselves a good chance.