The discovery of a new band is always exciting. Will it be something you’ve heard countless times? An experience that leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Or is it a treat from which you cannot stop consuming? I wanted to take a trip back in time to reminisce about bands/albums that not only introduced me to heavy music, but kept me coming back for more…
From The Archive: Baroness – Red Album
Relapse Records has and always will be a label that’s provided me with a plethora of gnarly bands that have quenched my musical thirst. They gave me Mastodon back in 2002, with their debut EP, Lifesblood. The Dillinger Escape Plan (originally on Now or Never Records) signed to the label where they released their masterpiece, Calculating Infinity. And recently, I discovered the awesomeness and quirkiness of Mose Giganticus. But back in 2007 my ears were meet with delight, as a band from Georgia, who mixed progressive metal with sludge/doom elements and a twist of post-metal, debuted their first full-length album on Relapse…
Hailing from Savannah, Georgia, Baroness have already built themselves a formidable reputation in sludge metal circles, already having two EPs under their belt. But it was now time for them to embark on a full-length, which they aptly named, Red Album. Now the first thing Baroness does is grab your attention visually, with the beautifully stunning album art, which just so happens to be designed by vocalist/guitarist John Baizley. And once they’ve gotten your eyes attention, it’s now time to treat the ears.
The Red Album is a very mature album when compared to their EPs, it flows logically, yet maintains a sense of simplicity and unpredictability. All the traits of a well structured and thought out album are instantly heard when the album pretty much busts your nut with the first track, “Rays on Pinion”. In my opinion, one of the best songs Baroness have ever written. Between the hazy guitar fade-ins and cymbal fills for the first minute and a half, Baroness gently lead you along with beauty and grace. As the song progresses, it carries on with glorious riffs after another until about almost 4 minutes in, the bellow of Baizley comes in giving off a very eschewed aggression, while continuing the focused drive of the song. This song is an epic declaration of the arrival of a new Baroness.
With “The Birthing” and “Isak”, Baroness bring the album’s shining example of excellent guitar work to the forefront. With “The Birthing” being very rock oriented and groovy, it flows smoothly throughout, ending with an amazing solo into an effective bass fill that leads right into “Isak”. Beginning with a very mellow intro, it quickly ignites into another guitar-driven track with a clear focus on heavy, complex riffs and long instrumental sections. Although two separate songs, they come off as one and encompass the well thought out structure that Baroness possess.
Baroness also show off their ability to craft lengthy and complex sections on the track “Wailing Wintry Wind”. The song is very ambient for the first 2 minutes os so, with the accompany of solid drum work soon appearing. Eventually some exceptional and melodic guitar riffs enter the fray and then the track hits its high point when the guitars deepen and the vocals burst in further expanding upon the majestic soundscape. The Red Album is not without it’s instrumentals, as “Cockroach En Fleur”, an acoustic interlude, gives homage to their southern roots, while “Teeth of a Cogwheel” gives off a groovy and hypnotic feel.
The latter half of the album continues it’s stride with the technical guitar and drum work of “Wanderlust”, to the more slower, heavier guitar driven “Aleph”. “O’Appalachia”, while being one of the shortest tracks, filled with speedy riffs and throaty vocals, comes off as one of the catchiest tracks on the album. Then comes the finale (not counting the pointless hidden track that has you wait over 11 minutes to actually hear something), the slowest track on the album, “Grad”. Baroness decided to take the calm route to end this album with an instrumental that has slight comparisons to that of Earth. It’s a beautiful end to an amazing album.
I must have played this album over and over again when I got it, I just couldn’t pull myself away from it, it’s that damn good. Eventually I moved onto other albums, but I still find myself gravitating towards the Red Album every now and then when I need my Baroness fix, and the same goes for the Blue Record (also amazing). All that’s left to do now, is patiently wait for the next installment in their musical career…
Baroness – “Isak”