Friday, 20 July 2012

Review: Baroness - Yellow & Green

 It's difficult to think of a band that has been so consistently breathtaking and so criminally underrated as Baroness have been. With Red Album and Blue Record being works of metallic art that thinks outside the box, they are truly deserving to be up with Mastodon, Tool and Isis as one of the most respectable monikers in progressive metal. Having so far strongly upheld a strong metallic undertone to their sludgy mix of progressive rock, punk and indie rock, listeners have so far found themselves perplexed by the sometimes softer tones that sprawl across the wonderfully constructed double album that is Yellow & Green, but if you truly appreciate rock music as a whole, this album should serve as an absolute treasure.

 I say this on account of the fact that a band can create a masterpiece. We've already seen masterpieces come out this year, wether they be from Gojira, Candlemass or even the Japandroids. But these are masterpieces that have come from bands that have established their own sound and know what they're doing with it, only they take the sound to new levels. With Baroness, there's always been a sense of eclecticism throughout their previous work but listeners have always known that they'd be in for some rumbling riffs and pounding basslines and drumbeats. But with Yellow & Green you can never be so sure of what you're in for and with every corner of the album comes a new surprise. And every surprise that comes is one that leaves you craving more.

 That's not to say that the thunderous rumbling doesn't exist. Opener Take My Bones Away opens with a severe punch of heavily layered punk riffage from frontman John Baizley who with his beautiful vocal calls and dazzling synthesizer makes the song a work of sonic wonder as well as proving that in spite of all the pre-album cynicysm that the Savannah quartet can still be crushingly heavy.

 With the uplifting stomp and riff fueled rush of March to the Sea, Little Things, Green Theme and The Line Between there is absolutely no doubt that Baroness' metal roots still remain bursting through, only they allow a greater wave of atmospheric power to encircle it and elevate the emotional tone that each song provides into higher levels.

 And it's the wide emotional spectrum that allows Baroness to grip listeners in their entirety. Throughout the wondrous distortion of the band's metal and indie rock inspired moments, and the more delicate acoustic led beauty of the likes of Twinkler, Eula and Mtns. (The Crown & Anchor) there are tones of love, loss, despair, wonder, urgency, curiosity and overwhelming beauty. There isn't a style that the band plays that doesn't emit a sense of emotion, from the empathetic softer moments to the rush of Cocanium and Sea Lungs that plays out with a chilled vibe of the classic rock of the 70's and 80's with an extra spike of modern urgency.

 Really, with the wide range of influences, wide emotional spectrum and ability to create otherworldly soundscapes, Yellow & Green proves itself to be a double album of total wonder and beauty that proves Baroness to be a band with the kind of musical grace, understanding and maturity to turn their music into a new pinnacle in the world of rock and metal music to make them a band of incredible influence and ability to muster up a masterpiece along with Mastodon, Tool and Isis. And when Mastodon released The Hunter last year, it was an album I listened to knowing that they had become a band with music the world had been waiting for. This time round, Baroness have done it. And it's created the same feeling taken to a higher level than ever. There isn't a single person that can't get behind this album. Once again, if you love rock music or music in general, this is your treasure for 2012.

Baroness' Yellow & Green is out now via Relapse. The band will tour the UK in August.

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