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Release date: December 18, 2015
Ever see the classic 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz”? Sure you have, who hasn’t? Well, if you’ll recall there was a part in the movie which entailed Dorothy and the rest of the gang being escorted through the Emerald City in a horse driven carriage, which was being pulled by a magnificent horse that changed colors seemingly at random. The “Horse of a Different Color” as it were.
I know what you’re thinking: “That’s great man, but why am I reading about a film that is over 75 years old, on an album review no less?” Well, you see the band in question, Baroness, has a number of similarities with the aforementioned chromatically mercurial equine. For instance, the Savannah Georgia based band has a history of releasing albums with color based titles. First there was the Red Album, followed by Blue Record and Yellow & Green. This brings us, finally to their latest release entitled Purple.
Not only are their album titles multichromatic, but their sound is also an ever changing, a chimera of melody, riffs, grooves, and punchy percussion. Baroness defy genre and categorization of their sound is nearly impossible. Are they metal? In a sense. Progressive? Definitely. If held at gunpoint and ordered to label them, upon threat of death, then I’d have to say ‘alternative hard-rock’. But hold on a minute. The label ‘alternative’ does little to describe any specific style, as that descriptor tends to be a catchall for any number of subgenres like grunge, funk, garage, goth, etc. The only reason I say ‘alternative’ is simply because they just cannot be pigeonholed into the standard concept of metal. This may very well be the most difficult review I’ve ever embarked upon. How to describe the indescribable? Well, as I said earlier there are significant riffs throughout the entire album. It’s definitely a guitar driven endeavor, with guitarists John Baizley and Peter Adams supplying both hard driving chords and light-fingered noodling. The bass work of Nick Jost and the percussion of Sebastian Thomson, both of whom are new to the band as of 2014, are each exceptional examples of consummate skill. Baizley also performs the vocals, which are powerful, gritty, yet supremely melodic. Not only that but he also supplies all of the artwork for the band’s awe-inspiring and rather unique album covers. These guys truly are something else entirely. And that something can only be described as ‘amazing’.
Take the album opener “Morningstar” which fades in with an interesting guitar piece and some distorted drums which leads to an avalanche of sound which includes a very doomy sounding riff and Baizley’s muscular vocals. The very next track has an electro-synth pop sounding opener, which again progresses into lead-heavy riffs and an upbeat rhythm, hard rock fused with progressive rock flawlessly. And then comes “Try To Disappear” which, I kid you not, brings to mind the emo-core of the early 2000's. “Fugue” a brief instrumental which is mellow, and jazzy, with wicked lead guitar work leads into quite possibly the greatest example of what Baroness are all about: “Chlorine & Wine”.
Is it progressive metal? Fuzz doom? Alternative rock? The answer is yes. Purple is that and so much more, an exhilarating and refreshing blend of various influences and styles. I really cannot recommend these guys enough.
Reviewed by: Farron 1340