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BARONESS

Experimental/Post Metal • United States


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Baroness biography
Founded in Savannah, USA in 2003

BARONESS began life in Savannah,Georgia in 2003 even though all members of the band hail from Lexington,Virginia.BARONESS eschew publicity,promotion and press kits,hence the sparseness of this bio.What they do is let their music speak for itself in the form of their live performances.Their touring schedule is relentless,with the band often playing over 250 gigs a year.

Consisting of members John Baizely (guitars,vocals),Summer Welch (bass),and brothers Allan and Brian Bickle (drums and guitars respectively),Baroness released two well received EP's simply titled "First" in 2003 and "Second" in 2005.In 2007 the band release a split with the band UNPERSONS titled "A Grey Sigh in a Flower Husk".

2007 also saw BARONESS sign on to the mighty label Relapse Records and they released their first full-length album,titled "Red Album".All of BARONESS' albums feature stunning psychedlic artwork conceived and drawn by band member John Baizely.

With colossal riffs and haunting vocals rolling like thunder across epic songs spanning both the intense and the sublime,BARONESS' sound evokes comparisons to bands like MASTODON,PELICAN and ISIS,to name a few.BARONESS play a unique blend of post-metal/sludge,prog metal,thrash,death and stoner doom metal and are highly recommended.

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BARONESS discography


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BARONESS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.75 | 115 ratings
Red Album
2007
3.50 | 80 ratings
Blue Record
2009
3.45 | 111 ratings
Yellow & Green
2012
3.45 | 37 ratings
Purple
2015
3.76 | 14 ratings
Gold & Grey
2019

BARONESS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

BARONESS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

BARONESS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.05 | 2 ratings
First & Second
2019

BARONESS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.96 | 21 ratings
First
2003
3.51 | 18 ratings
Second
2005
4.03 | 11 ratings
A Grey Sigh In A Flower Husk
2007
5.00 | 1 ratings
High On Fire / Coliseum / Baroness - Untitled
2007
0.00 | 0 ratings
A Horse Called Golgotha
2010
4.00 | 1 ratings
Live at Maida Vale - BBC
2013

BARONESS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 First by BARONESS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2003
2.96 | 21 ratings

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First
Baroness Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars BARONESS was started in Savannah, Georgia by a group of friends who grew up in Lexington, Virginia and has become one of the more recognizable sludge metal acts in recent years although the band has drifted more into stoner metal territory. Also noted for the band's fondness of naming albums after colors, before the debut "Red Album" in 2007, BARONESS released two EPs and one split. Never one for original catchy titles, these early EPs were simply called FIRST and "Second." The two EPs have also been released as a combo pack also unexcitingly titled "First & Second" in 2008 after the band found success with its full-length debut.

Given that the band had members with punk roots in the punk / metal band Johnny Welfare and the Paychecks, it's no surprise that these early offerings from BARONESS are more aggressive and caustic than the more polished albums that follow. FIRST (and "Second") are the only releases to feature the early lineup of John Baizley (vocals, guitar), Allen Blickle (drums), Tim Loose (guitar) and Summer Welch (bass.) Baizley is known not only for his caustic vocal style and jangly guitar antics but also has been the visual artist for the band's cover art which began with this first release.

FIRST only contains three tracks that are just shy of 17 minutes but pack a serious punch with highly aggressive and raging sludge metal that already begin to display some of the band's progressive tendencies that follow in the footsteps of other Georgian sludge metal acts like the superstar band Mastodon. It's interesting to hear how the band evolves step-by-step from these early origins. While "Second" was already showing signs of a more polished approach, FIRST displays the band at its rawest and primeval angst with the punk infused guitar bombast on full decibelage dripping with rage. This EP was produced by Phillip Cope of Kylesa and although not as intricately designed as the band's full-length albums is nonetheless an entertaining listen that is well performed. Recommended for those who love the filthy raw origins of sludge metal.

3.5 rounded down

 Second by BARONESS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2005
3.51 | 18 ratings

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Second
Baroness Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars BARONESS followed up its debut EP, "First" with the logically titled SECOND which was released the very next year in 2005. Like the debut, this one contained three tracks that exceeded the 20 minute mark and along with the debut was one of the two releases to feature the early lineup of John Baizley (vocals, guitar), Allen Blickle (drums), Tim Loose (guitar) and Summer Welch (bass.)

SECOND exhibits a more sophisticated sound that while not jettisoning the extreme core influences that emerged from the members' punk roots that offer caustic sludge metal delivers on overdrive, the band's progressive tendencies that peeked through the din on the debut are more developed on this one and in many ways BARONESS sounds most like Mastodon on this one as the 2000s found an entire Georgia scene that incorporated core and punk influences into sludge metal along with progressive and psychedelic elements.

While "First" was on high octane all the time, SECOND allows for some slower echoey guitar sequences that allow some interesting instrumental interplay especially on "Son Of Sun" which displays some of the band's notorious flirtations with progressive rock that would become its signature sound and as a result makes a much more interesting musical experience than on "First" although that one was a wickedly wild unadulterated slab of primeval raw sludge metal.

One can think of these early EP years as the first phase of BARONESS which includes the following split with Unpersons titled "A Grey Sigh In A Flower Husk" before the lineup change that would debut on the band's first full-length "Red Album." In addition to the sludge metal antics of Mastodon on SECOND, there are clear references to post-metal bands like Isis as well the expected Kylesa connection. Overall i prefer this much more sophisticated SECOND offering to the first because not only does it deliver a filthy raw slab of caustic sludge metal but also exceeds its one-dimensional nature by offering respites into more progressive and psychedelic meanderings.

 First & Second by BARONESS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2019
4.05 | 2 ratings

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First & Second
Baroness Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars BARONESS released two EPs before crafting the signature sound heard on the full-length debut 'Red Album.' These two EPs were simply called FIRST followed by SECOND and showcased the band's evolution from the punk roots on the caustic debut to the more progressive elements exercised on the sophomore release.

These two EPs were released as a combo pack in 2008 after the band had achieved popularity on this compilation simply titled FIRST & SECOND that includes all six tracks from the two EPs without any bonus tracks or extras. This release pretty much covers the first phase of BARONESS' original lineup that consisted of ohn Baizley (vocals, guitar), Allen Blickle (drums), Tim Loose (guitar) and Summer Welch (bass) except the two tracks on the split 'A Grey Sigh In A Flower Husk.'

This is pretty much for anyone who wants to explore the early origins of BARONESS and how they evolved from a fiery aggressive and raging sludge machine into the more polished progressive experimental sludge metal act that would take the world by storm. Personally i like the SECOND EP better for my tastes but this is a nice example of what excellent sludge metal with experimental touches is all about.

 Red Album by BARONESS album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.75 | 115 ratings

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Red Album
Baroness Experimental/Post Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Red Album" is the debut full-length studio album by US, Georgia based sludge/heavy metal act Baroness. The album was released through Relapse Records in September 2007. Baroness was formed in 2003 and released a demo, two EPs, and two splits, before releasing the "Red Album". So at this point Baroness had already honed their playing skills and songwriting craft for quite a few years and on quite a few releases.

Stylistically the music on the album is progressive sludge/heavy metal featuring both clean, raw, and shouting vocals. Mostly lead vocalist/guitarist John Dyer Baizley shouts in key. There are a lot of southern, blues, and roots elements in the music, which is very guitar driven, and the two guitarists generally compliment each other well and there is some pretty intricate guitar work throughout the album. The rhythm section is also quite impressive and especially drummer Allen Blickle has quite the adventurous playing style. It's dynamic music which can be both slow building and mellow, but also more hard edged and aggressive.

"Red Album" features a powerful, organic, and very well sounding production, which brings out the best in the material. Said material is quite creative and it's often hard to know where a song is going to end as the tracks don't always follow regular vers/chorus structures. It's quite progressive in that way, and Baroness deserve all the praise in the world for their innovative songwriting approach. When that is said, the vocal melodies are seldom that memorable, and the vocals sometimes feel like an afterthought. It's also remarkable when thinking of how adventurous and interesting the material generally is, how few actual "songs" there are on the album. It's a lot of creative ideas and skillful playing, but very little sticks when the album is over.

So "Red Album" leaves me a little biased as unconventional and adventurous songwriting usually makes my blood boil (and to a certain degree also does here), but there still has to be some catchy moments featured, that you remember after the album has finished playing, and there simply aren't enough of those on this album. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

 Gold & Grey by BARONESS album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.76 | 14 ratings

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Gold & Grey
Baroness Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars Baroness' "Gold and Grey" is apparently the last of the chromatic-color themed albums, and is the 5th in that series. Released in June of 2019, it has a hefty number of tracks, 17 to be exact. The line up on this album consists of founder John Baizley (guitar, lead vocals, keyboards, and percussion), Nick Jost (bass, keyboards, backing vocals), Sebastian Thomson (drums and percussion, and Gina Gleason (guitar, backing vocals). The only new addition to the band is Gleason who replaced Pete Adams, the rest of the band is the same as on "Purple", their previous album.

Seventeen tracks may seem like a lot, but keep in mind that only one track exceeds the 6 minute mark, and there are a handful of tracks that are quite short. The album starts out with the excellent "Front Towards Enemy" with some heavy sounds and lots of guitar work that will get your heart racing. However, Baroness fans will notice that the music is still more accessible than the first 2 albums, at least in the beginging. That's the bad news, but the good news is, the music has some rough, unrefined edges, so it doesn't seem so smooth and ironed out as the last two albums. Also, as the album continues, the music gets more unique and experiemental, so keep with it and it will get better. I do miss the days, strangely enough, when John's vocals were more of a melodic growl, I used to love the passion behind those vocals. There is also much less instrumental interplay like there was on the first two albums, and that is really missed. However, there are still times when a surprising amount of passion does show through

Yet, there are still some great tracks here. The aforementioned "Front Towards Enemy" utilizes the bands newer sound quite well. Also, on some of the shorter tracks like "Seasons", you hear the band experimenting with keyboards and guitar, which makes for some nice variety that you don't expect. Also, "Tourniquet" has a lot of heartfelt passion on it, starting off surprisingly soft, but yet unique and a bit off kilter. As the track continues, it builds in intensity, but not in the ways you would expect. This is definitely a direction that is new for the band, and it has a unique progressive feel to it. Excellent track. This is a great example of why the band is considered Post Metal and Experimental. This experimental attitude shows through in "Anchor's Lament" with some deep harmonies, piano, string effects and such. The song acts as a prelude to "Throw Me an Anchor", which has a more thickly layered feel to it, heavy like some of the previous work, but the layers contain not just guitars, but a miasma of other sounds that build a nice and tense feeling to the track. The there is the surprise of "I'd Do Anything" which sounds like a ballad, but there is a lot of feedback and interesting effects that go far beyond the typical.

When you think you have heard it all, along comes "Emmett-Radiating Light". Talk about unconventional. This features softly plucked guitars and a really odd harmony in the vocals. A tenseness is felt in a swelling drone in the background and the echoing aspects of the synths and the brightness of bells against the morose vocals, you would almost swear you were listening to "Ulver's" album "Blood Inside". Also, the contrasting of John's and Gina's vocals on "Cold-Blooded Angels" is something else unexpected, especially when the music develops into something that resembles the passion from the earlier albums. There is even a short foray into micro-tones with "Crooked Mile", but I'm not sure if that was intentional or if they were just warping the sound. "Borderlines" is another highlight of the album, heavy, yet this is the band acquiring it's own sound and style, a bit unstable and teetering on the edge of insanity. I love it!

It is good to hear that Baroness has moved away from the more commercial sound that was on "Yellow & Green" and this album finds them experimenting a lot more. While it still isn't as excellent as "The Red Album", is still has a lot of strength in the band's willingness to explore new avenues. Once again, I have some hope for this band and I can detect the ability for them to continue to strengthen their sound. There is a possibility that they can have another 5 star album, but I can also tell that when it does happen, it will be completely different from "The Red Album" and will be it's own glorious work. As far as this album, it is a step back into the right direction, even though it might be a completely different path than it started out to be for the band. There is, however, some weaknesses in the album, as if there is a lack of confidence in the music (as in "Broken Halo") or if they are just getting familiar with what their new boundaries are. It's not perfect, but it is an indication of great things to come. There is a bit of unevenness on the album, and it probably would have flowed a lot smoother if the intermediate tracks could have somehow tied into the main tracks better, but these are things that many listeners might not notice. Overall, this album makes me happy to hear this talented band expand its horizons again. I can say that I am looking forward to seeing where they go next again, because for a while there, I was starting to lose interest. This album brings it all back again. Though it's not the best of the year, it is probably the most excited I have been hearing from band that I had lost hope in. Welcome back, Baroness! Yes I miss the old Baroness, but I love the new Baroness.

 Blue Record by BARONESS album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.50 | 80 ratings

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Blue Record
Baroness Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars Baroness' 2nd full length studio album, "The Blue Album" was released in October 2009. The album was produced by John Congleton, who produced albums for "Black Mountain" and "Explosions in the Sky". Baroness also got a lot of exposure following the release of this album opening for "Mastodon", "Metallica", and "Isis" among others. Their debut album, "The Red Album" was a great Progressive Metal album which proved the band had the talent and the innovation to be considered one of the best upcoming Progressive Metal bands, and this album ended up being called the 20th Greatest Metal Album in History by L.A. Weekly. It is also their first album to feature Pete Adams on guitar, who replaced Brian Bickle.

Since I really love the "Red Album", I had a lot of hope for this album when it came out. They had set a really high bar with that album, and I hoped that this one would be able to at least meet that bar. I was not disappointed, at least not this time, though I was when they released their next album "The Yellow and Green Album". But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let's look at the Blue Album.

This album starts out with an introductory track called "Bullhead's Psalm". It features a quick dual guitar instrumental with no percussion that segues into the 2nd track, "The Sweetest Curse". This one starts immediately with the full band and a much heavier sound. John Baizley soon starts his melodic growl vocals and everything begins with a bang after the introduction. Once again, as in the previous album, we get that excellent dual guitar work with strong progressive riffs and a heavy dual guitar solo. It quiets down to a dual acoustic finish close to the end.

"Jake Leg" continues with this style, with a more rapid fire drumming pattern and killer stop/start introduction. John's vocals are a bit cleaner on this one, but the song's power is just as strong on this one. The track is even more progressive than the last one, with some tricky rhythms and a mostly non-traditional song structure with just a bit of a mid-east influence. It ends with a heavy dual guitar solo.

"Steel That Sleeps the Eye" uses a quiet acoustic backdrop with some wind effects and vocal harmonies that are very reminiscent of "Alice in Chains" on some of their softer songs. The reverb effect on the vocals adds a great atmosphere. Percussion finally kicks into a slow pounding rhythm as it builds to lead into the next track.

"Swollen and Halo" is the longest song on here at over 6 minutes. It starts out at a mid tempo rhythm and a nice guitar hook, but soon increases in tempo to a more driving and heavy rhythm and more vocals. The dual guitar power of this band leads to some very strong and heavy guitar, yet it stays quite melodic even in its heaviness. There is a sudden shift in the middle of the long instrumental break to a new hook and cool warbling guitar effect. The ever changing tempo and meters makes this track fly by and you wish it could just keep going.

"Ogeechee Hymnal" is an instrumental that starts off a bit laid back, but a slow heavy rhythm prompts louder guitars, but it suddenly goes to a more atmospheric and psychedelic sound with sustained guitar chords and effects after losing the percussion, and giving it an electric guitar hymn style.

Crazy riffs and effects are squeezed out of the guitars to open the heavy and fast paced "A Horse Called Golgotha". Mixed solo and harmonized vocals come in at 1:15, and the pace feels frantic and fast. Soon the dual guitar sound creates an amazing instrumental section and increases the intensity before vocals come in again. Then there is this amazing guitar sound that will make your ears perk right up. At 4 minutes, percussion drops off as guitars echo around each other and then suddenly blast off again and then go into a rapid fire progressive riff before screaming to a stop.

"O'er Hell and Hide" starts up with an acoustic and suddenly softer riff. This makes for a nice contrast as it goes on for about a minute before going into another powerful frenzy with the full band. Spoken vocals come in for a short time as music continues to play behind it. Heavy growling appears here and there between the vocal readings. More great instrumentals and effects carry the track to its conclusion. "War, Wisdom and Rhyme" continues the feel of this track right away. Vocals, both heavy and clean, begin and the track continues to deliver progressive heaviness with a non-traditional song structure in the same style as Tool and Mastadon.

"Blackpowder Orchard" is a quick acoustic/electric guitar solo which makes a nice effect, but is over too quickly. "The Gnashing" starts with a pensive electric guitar melody. Bass begins to establish a slow walking rhythm. A steady beat then takes over and intensity builds as the beat increases in tempo and a heavy extended instrumental continues before vocals come in for a few short verses well into the 2nd half of the track. All of this ends with the final track "Bullhead's Lament". This is a nice, slow instrumental that is an effective closer to the album.

The use of tempo, dynamics and progressive dual guitar riffs make this album an amazing Progressive Metal album from beginning to end. It is as good as "The Red Album" and continues to show the talent of this band, and if they had continued in this style, it could have established them as one of the best progressive metal bands out there. Unfortunately, a turn towards a more accessible sound in the next album helped them lose this foothold they were establishing. Even though the sound stays heavy, it ends up losing its progressive flavor. But, at least for this album, you still get a great album full of amazing riffs and progressive characteristics enough to make any prog head and metal head happy.

 Yellow & Green by BARONESS album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.45 | 111 ratings

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Yellow & Green
Baroness Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

3 stars All of Baroness' albums from "The Blue Album" back to the beginning (including the EPs) were top notch, inventive and amazing Prog Metal albums with a lot of emotion, and with as much instrumental music as vocal music. Yes it is very heavy music, but with a lot of progressive elements and very imaginative. The vocals were close to growling, but they still had a very melodic quality to them that made them all the more emotional in the same way that Devin Townsend's growling vocals are. I highly recommend any of those albums.

This album, called "Yellow & Green" is actually a double album, hence the title with two colors. Just one month after the release of this album, the members in the band were all injured in a bus accident, and it looked like this would be the demise of the band, but they all recovered from very serious injuries and started touring again. Not long after this however, two of the members left the band, but two other musicians soon joined the band and touring continued.

So, with this album, Baroness takes a turn towards a more accessible sound. You can't really say this is a progressive record, but it is a great heavy metal album nevertheless. I still enjoy the music on this album, there are still plenty of high points on the album, they just aren't progressive aspects anymore. The vocals are now cleaner, but unfortunately, they tend to lose the emotion they used to possess. The vocalist is still the same as on the past albums, he is just singing cleaner. The guitar work is absolutely awesome. You could pretty much say that the "Yellow" disc is more on the heavier side with a few mellower sections added in, and the "Green" disc has more softer and mellower tracks with a few heavy sections, especially towards the middle part. But, overall it has lost it's progressive heart, and that is a shame because this is an excellent band. In fact, I actually increased "The Red Album" to a 5 star album now after listening to it several times and gaining a better respect for it. Unfortunately, I can't be so generous to the "Yellow & Green" album simply because it is not progressive enough. Amazing harmonies, excellent guitar work, great instrumentation, but I miss the progressiveness of the older albums, the power and emotion. It is an excellent heavy metal album, but only a good but non-essential album in progressive terms.

 Purple by BARONESS album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.45 | 37 ratings

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Purple
Baroness Experimental/Post Metal

Review by 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.

 Red Album by BARONESS album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.75 | 115 ratings

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Red Album
Baroness Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Baroness' debut album offers a straight-ahead mashup of accessible traditional metal fused at the hip with progressive sludge metal of the Mastodon school. It's a solid point of entry for their work, though at the same time precisely because it's so easy on the ear and accessible it may be a disappointment to listeners coming to it after hearing Baroness' more progressive and experimental work. The material here represents creative territory which the band itself eventually moved on from, and I suspect most listeners will move on from it too, but as a gateway drug to wilder material in sludge metal territory it has its merits.
 Red Album by BARONESS album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.75 | 115 ratings

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Red Album
Baroness Experimental/Post Metal

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Baroness is described as a progressive metal band, an experimental/post metal band, and a sludge metal band depending on where you look. I found them while checking out sludge metal bands on Amazon. I had been kind of out of the metal scene in so far as new bands were concerned for a number of years and so I decided to see what was new out there. A lot of bands impressed me with their music but turned me off with their vocals. What ever happened to singing like Ronnie James Dio, Rob Halford, Bruce Dickenson, and Ian Gillan?

So, here was this band called Baroness with some pretty cool album covers (all designed by John Baizley (guitar/vocals) and I found that their approach to music rather appealed to me, at least after clicking on the 30-second track samples on Amazon. The vocals were still an issue for me; however, I decided that the music was good enough that I would order the CD. Actually, around this time I had decided not to be such a sourpuss about aggressive shouting vocals and roaring death growl vocals. I ordered Opeth's "Blackwater Park" and Mastodon's "Leviathan" at the same time in order to embrace a wider musical scope.

Off the bat, the thing that impressed me with "Red Album" was that it starts off more like a post rock album than anything else. There's a fairly long instrumental introduction that builds until it finally gets heavy and the vocals come in. I don't mind the shouting so much as long as I feel it suits the music. When the music is not so aggressive, I think the vocals should reflect that in most cases. I found however that the most aggressive vocal moments were too much for the music. Nevertheless, the song impressed me for its post rock/metal stylings. I hope the band will forgive me for mishearing "Rays on Pinion" as "Ray's Opinion".

Track one concludes and immediately "The Birthing" begins almost as if the two were one song split. The sound and style continue and I am still impressed, and accepting the vocals. However, when "Isak" flows out of "The Birthing" so that the first three tracks form a set, I begin to feel there's a certain sameness about the songs.

That doesn't last, though. "Wailing Wintery Wind" is over three minutes of post rock instrumental before the heavier tone sets in. My interest returns, and the album takes another turn with the acoustic instrumental "Cockroach en Fleur", showing us that Baroness are following in ancient metal traditions by showing us their classical side.

"Wanderlust" easily makes it a playlist selection with its creative composition, again playing different styles off each other. At times the vocals are actually starting to grow on me. I note that the guitars use different distortion sounds: one is heavy and gritty like on Pelican's "What We All Come to Need" and the other is scratchy and higher toned. The drumming is also a thing to mention as we often travel outside of 4/4 time and into a mixed bag of time measure changes and odd beats plus lots of fills.

"Aleph" keeps the pace and flow of the album but it's the instrumental "Teeth of a Cogwheel" that perks up my ears. It gets three consecutive plays on my way to work today. The sad thing is that it's so short. The first 24 seconds are the drum intro, then the main riff with regular percussion. Then comes the treat. Something that I can only describe as 70's rock rhythm/funk mixed with a complex tribal beat backs the riff. I am totally following the music here. Then we get a deliciously scratchy guitar solo, more impressive in sound than performance but very nicely done nonetheless. Another round of the riff while the drumming takes its former impressive path to another height. And that's it. The song concludes at 1:55 and the last 20 seconds are just delay pedal effects.

The final tracks of "O'Appalacia" and "Grad" also stand out though keep the style of the whole album. Except for the beginning of "Isak" I didn't feel that this album was repetitive or unoriginal. I still am not a fan of the vocals totally but musically these guys really know their stuff. Thankfully, there are two or three instrumentals and some of the songs feature more instrumental parts than sung ones.

I would give this album 5 stars for the music, but overall just four because of, well, the vocals. The shouting style suits the heavier approach of Mastodon more, in my opinion. An album worth checking out if you haven't heard of Baroness before. An excellent addition if this heavier, more raucous style is to your liking.

Thanks to TheProgtologist for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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