Friday, July 13, 2012

Album Review: Baroness - "Yellow & Green"

For anyone who doesn't know who Baroness is (If you don't, please get your shit together here and here. Let this wash over you afterwards as you pick your jaw up off the floor.), they're a sludge metal band turned rock band rising from one of the capitols of sludge, Georgia, USA. Like most bands, they've evolved over time, but instead of taking little steps over the course of an entire career, Baroness didn't fuck around with trying to expand and push their sound with every album.

Their first full length release Red Album was pure Southern sludge metal, blasting your ears off with John Baizley's caveman vocals and raw, in-your-face production. Their next album, Blue Record went for a more progressive metal oriented sound, cleaning up some of the sludge and bringing in boatloads of melody and harmonization. Now we have their newest release, the double album titled Yellow & Green.

Above: Proof that doing lots and lots of drugs is a good thing, kids.
Yellow & Green sees Baroness pulling further away from the sludge sound and delving into psychedelic rock and prog rock territory. I remember reading a while ago that Yellow & Green would turn off a lot of fans with it's change in their sound. It did too, with a bunch of comments online saying how much they "went soft" or "sold out" or whatever. Yeah, maybe they did go softer, but going softer is what they wanted to do, and they actually probably gained a lot more fans than they lost with making their music more accessible. Enough with the rambling, though. Let's get on with the review.

Yellow & Green still has elements of Baroness' style of sludge metal in it. Those oh so delicious, gain laden harmonized guitar leads are sprinkled throughout the album, and Baizley's signature voice can be heard booming out of our speakers, too. The one thing he's changed up though, is he's no longer bellowing and yelling so much as actually singing now. His voice is still powerful, but its a lot less harsh to listen to. The instrumentation is still thick and warm, with the guitars sounding smooth and beefy while the bass thumps away in the background. The drumming is as superb as ever on Yellow & Green. There's really not much to say about the overall sound of this album other than that it's "softer" and "thick and warm". Mr. Cannibal Spork, an album reviewer on YouTube gave probably the perfect description of the Yellow half, saying the album felt like a warm blanket on a cold day.

Green on the other hand, seems to take that warm blanket on a cold day and replace it with a cool breeze on a warm beach. Much more laid back than it's rocking sibling, Green seems to go for a more jangly and twangy sound. While some parts are heavier than others, the whole ride seems to be like floating in the ocean down the shoreline.

This is literally all that ran through my mind when I saw this picture.
There's not really anything I can objectively dismiss about Yellow & Green. The songwriting is tight, the musicianship is great, and the final product is in itself a complete package. They couldn't have released Yellow without Green or vice versa. Both had to come together simultaneously for this project to reach it's full potential. However, subjectively, I can find something I dislike in these albums. I was so heavily invested in Red and Blue (seriously, they're two of my favorite albums ever) that my mind was programmed to think that Baroness = sludge. Since I didn't hear the singles off of Yellow & Green until pretty much right before I heard the whole album, the big change in sound took me by surprise. Don't get me wrong, I really like this new direction Baroness have taken, I just miss the old sludgy stuff.

Bomb-Ass Tracks - Yellow

Take My Bones Away: The big, burly first single off of the album chugs forward with massive guitars, bass and drums and stays in your head for days with its ridiculously catchy vocals.

Little Things: This playful little tune (it's that God damn twisty guitar riff) is perfect to close your eyes and just melt away with. Once it hits the 4:26 mark though, it'll wake you the fuck up with some of Baizley's kickass riffs.

Eula: Just listen to this song and stare into an open flame. You won't regret it.

Bomb-Ass Tracks - Green

Board Up the House: Kicking off Green with this song (after the mandatory intro track "Green Theme"), This song definitely sounds like it could get some radio airplay on a rock station. When I hear this, memories of summer and care-free days come to mind.

Psalms Alive: Another summery song here. Is "stoner ska" a genre? Well, if it isn't, Baroness just invented it.

Stretchmarker: Muthafuckin' guitar-based instrumental songs. They get me every time.

On a Playlist With: Well... this is awkward. Just listen to Red Album, Blue Record, and Yellow & Green. In that order. Or in reverse order. Or just listen to Yellow & Green over and over again. Whatever.

Overall Score


Baroness win at music. Again. Pretty much, unless you're butthurt about Baroness changing their sound, Yellow & Green has lots to offer to any music fan. Listen to Yellow & Green yourself here, and let us know what you think!

That's all for now, folks.

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