Baroness

Yellow & Green

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 Legs
09. Eula
10. Green Theme
11. Board Up The House
12. Mtns. (The Crown & Anchor)
13. Foolsong
14. Collapse
15. Psalms Alive
16. Stretchmarker
17. The Line Between
18. If I Forget Thee, Lowcountry

[07/17/12]
[Relapse Records]

More often than not, as metal bands age, their music tends to get less extreme. It’s a trend that many fans have to deal with on a daily basis; bands evolve — or devolve, as it were — with time. This removal from harsh landscape can lead to some stellar heights (ie., Mastodon‘s Crack The Skye) or disastrous lows (In FlamesSounds of a Playground Fading). It’s been long evident that Baroness were heading down this path, and the group’s double-album Yellow & Green sees the band foray into a less-traveled sludge pop territory shared only by the likes of Torche and not many others. At least they’re in good company!

Initially, it would appear that Baroness have clouded what is essentially a pop rock record in a sludge facade. More than a couple of tracks from Yellow & Green could be considered mainstream rock hits if this album were released by a major label and a big-budget PR team, yet Baroness manages to shine through with some of their best work yet. Wisely crafted anthemic tracks are the main flavor here, with choruses sung in practically off-key shouts to evoke an atmosphere fitting of drunken tavern singalongs. It is without a doubt that once Baroness fans learn all the lyrics, a show on the Yellow & Green touring cycle will be met with enthusiastic audience response. It would be impossible NOT to shout along to “Take My Bones Away.”

This accessibility isn’t to say that Baroness have gone for something more commercially safe. As the album continues, it is apparent that the band have also incorporated much more in the way of post-rock and psychedelic influences. The production has just enough grit to keep the band rooted, and the psychedelic influences on tracks like “Cocainium” and “Collapse” and the way-too-moody “Back Where I Belong” and “Foolsong” are enough to keep casual rock fans at a comfortable distance.

It almost goes without saying due to its double-album status, but Yellow & Green is a massive listen. There’s more bang-for-the-buck value, but thorough listen of both halves can be testing. Luckily, the double-disc adventure gets into stranger territory as it progresses; as Yellow gives way to Green, Baroness becomes more melancholic and experimental. The fist-pumping anthems turn into more ethereal and introspective soundscapes by the time Green comes to a close, a shift in dynamic that is marked by tracks like “Mtns.” and the instrumentals “Stretchmarker” and “If I Forget Thee, Lowcountry.” There’s also the way-beyond-quirky prog bombast of “Psalms Alive” that further stirs the pot.

Whichever color best suits your needs, it’s evident that the Baroness of old from First and Second are out of the picture. Currently, Baroness have established themselves as a fun-loving rock band that isn’t afraid to mix catchy southern rock with hazy and thoughtful meandering, and they managed to do it without compromising artistic integrity or musicianship. So long as they are capable of straddling the line between sludge and pop, then by all means, we’re in for a good time as Baroness continues exploring their palette of colors at disposal.

Baroness – Yellow & Green get…

4/5

– JR

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.