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Baroness - Purple CD (album) cover

PURPLE

Baroness

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.33 | 29 ratings

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FragileKings
Prog Reviewer
3 stars I came across Baroness a few years back when I read about sludge metal and wondered how that sounded. I bought Baroness's "Red Album" and found it rather impressive, powerful music with a progressive edge in places. I knew I'd get another album and actually kept "Yellow and Green" on standby at Amazon for over two years. Then "Purple" was released and I figured why not just get the latest album.

It most certainly is the Baroness sound that rumbles and booms through the opening riff of "Morningstar". The song switches to a melodic heavy power rock tune that strikes me as consistent with my impression that "Yellow and Green" was leaning more towards melodic over raw bellowing vocals. The song wraps up by reprising that awesome opening riff, which would fit perfectly on a Mastodon album.

Track two "Shock Me" begins with some simple and soft keyboards. Where's Baroness going to take this? Of course we get another strong power melody rocker but with an impressive more technical instrumental mid-section which is followed by a melodic bit of lead guitar. A strong track for sure.

"I will bury your bones inside my garden / Underneath, your eyes can't burn through me no more." Is this Danzig? "Try to Disappear" carries the banner of a song with the guitars pushed to the red and busy drumming that seems to abhor a steady beat without anything in between and half sung half bellowed vocals intent on insisting that there's a melody here. The guitar work is different, separating track three from two and from one. But the musical theme is becoming apparent. This is Baroness's "Purple" album. Heavy melodic punk/post metal?

Though I do begin to lose interest once a musical theme sets in and becomes the sole atmospheric element of an album's sonic palette, the next three tracks snap my interest back. Granted, "Kerosene" follows the same style as we've heard so far, but the loud simple bass in the chorus and another interesting instrumental break have my attention. Then "Fugue" goes somewhere else completely and reminds me of one of the reasons I liked Baroness at first, which was their ability to break a continuing musical theme with an instrumental that offers something different. The change in flavour is continued during the intro to "Chlorine and Wine". Though this simple, slow and haunting melodic music style, complete with scratchy echoes, seems to be common today, one can't help but wonder where Baroness will take it. Of course, we find ourselves back in familiar "Purple" territory, but the slow journey back is pleasing. One ear-catching line: "I've never felt so uncomfortably numb." Another thing to point out is that so far all the lead guitar work has been melodic rather than technical or ultra-aggressive. This song wraps up with a crescendo of power melody.

"Iron Bell" is another rollicking and rolling power rock melodic song. Quite good and making it difficult to say which of all these songs is the best. "Desperation Burns" gives us another heavy riff, a welcome return to the into-the-red heavy distortion. Melody is still a factor but heaviness is emphasized, especially in the instrumental break.

The final song, "If I Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop the Rain)", takes the tempo down for a kind of heavy sludge ballad. Perhaps the song to least impress me but nevertheless a good idea at least for variety. This song is followed by a brief robotic voice speaking for the final track.

I've given this album a fair bit of praise and mentioned several favourable points. Honestly, it is while attention is focused on the music for this review that I sniffed out what I like about the album. However, after the first three or four listens I had a tough time saying what songs I liked or why. This album is easy to have on the car stereo while driving or in the air buds while commuting because the overall approach is as I've described: a kind of loud power rock with bellowed vocal melodies. It's quite a step from "The Red Album" and for that I think it's great that Baroness are approaching each "colour" with a different flavour. They are evolving their style while still sounding like Baroness. I find that I enjoy the rawness of "The Red Album" more, on which the post metal/sludge/progressive/technical elements stood out more. But even though I prefer the other album, I give the band credit for producing a cohesive and solid piece of work here. But I'll add that it was a good idea to keep it to 42 minutes. A sixty-minute album of similar songs would be too much.

FragileKings | 3/5 |

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