Friday, 18 December 2015

Baroness – Purple (2015) / 91%

Motherfucking Mace Windu would be proud!

After the ambitious Yellow & Green (2012) and their tragic accident, John Baizley and Baroness decided to streamline their sound and come back to the structure of Blue Record (still perhaps their best record as far as I'm concerned) and it was for the best as Purple is a grand record and a testament to the band leader of putting adversity behind him and move forward.

The main draw for this album is the automatic enjoyment you'll receive when you'll hear it, it's catchy as hell. Not that Y&G wasn't but it was more subdued and harder to grasp due to its somewhat tedious format. It all starts with the sludgey “Morningstar” before going to many places. I've rarely heard an album this varied that keeps things so focused and condensed. From their typical sludge rock to grungey accessible rock of the highest quality you can find, “ If I Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop the Rain)” is absolutely stunning. Baizley's vocals also never been that good, his delivery is excellent and there's a truly memorable urgency to his voice (see “Try to Disappear”). There's an hetfieldian influence (no wonders “Tallica likes them) and it's awesome. Long gone are the days where they use harsh vocals but they're not needed anymore, their sound has evolved into something else, something not as “red”, something more hopeful. They still have loud guitars, good riffs (“Desperation Burns) but it's possibly heavier than Yellow (the heaviest half of their predecessor) and I mean, it should be after what happened to them. Music is always therapeutic (for the musicians and the fans alike) and it's obvious that the writing process was influenced by their bus accident.

When I called on my nursemaid
Come sit by my side
But she cuts through my ribcage
And pushes the pills deep in my eyes
Baroness has always been a highly intricate band and has been known to push the limits of the traditional metal or rock instrumentation and it's the case here as well. The drums are inventive, there's almost a Christmas bells influence on the aforementioned closer “If I have to Wake Up” and this is appropriate since the album was released in December! There's this shoe gaze/dream pop intro to “Chroline & Wine” and a wide range of rock influences ranging from hard rock to alternative rock. The interlude “Fugue” is basically R&B and it's glorious! They even channel their inner Thin Lizzy and unleash some solid licks. There's not a lot of bands who are successful at integrating the mainstream rock scene while retaining their identity, Baroness did it and they're now on the verge of stardom. They're hard working, super talented and with a clear and distinguished identity. In my eyes, their transition towards a rockier and more accessible sound was even more outstanding than Opeth's (a band with a similar progressive ability).

The guitars are singing their songs and I'm surprised by the amount of hope and 
positivity this record has, it's not always dark and this speaks wonders about John's thought process. Keeping the usual Baroness aesthetic (naked women, flowers, birds), the quartet has released another strong album, their fourth in a row.

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