Modern Day Epic
Baroness creates an atmospheric rock album with hints of Queen, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.
**** out of *****
Chances are anyone outside of the underground music scene has never even heard of Baroness.
The band, which started up in 2003, often gets lumped into the “sludge metal” category, where bands are quickly born and forgotten. On the 2007 offering Red Album there were some decent songs, but overall the music lacked the diversity to hold listeners attention. However, on Blue Record Baroness sheds most of its metal shell and enters the realm of psychedelic progressive rock.
While there are still some heavy tunes (“The Sweetest Curse” and “War, Wisdom and Rhyme”), there are also plenty of sprawling musical interludes and acoustic tracks such as the Pink Floyd-esque “Steel That Sleeps the Eye.”
“Jake Leg” and “A Horse Called Golgotha” condense the formula of latter-day Led Zeppelin into three to five minute rock songs that provide some epic background music, suitable for throwing on when doing work or just hanging out.
The bright dual guitar harmonies on instrumental songs like “Bullhead’s Psalm,” “Ogeechee Hymn,” and “Blackpowder Orchard” sound more like something that could be found on Queen’s back catalog than say, the doom of Black Sabbath.
Baroness knows the important art of creating a cohesive album. On Blue Record each song flows together to make the listening experience feel more like a complete package rather than on more recent albums that tend to sound like they contain songs recorded one at a time for iTunes.
Even the cover art, which features two women, some fish, and tons of the color blue (big surprise), has a sense of a classic painting, that works to tie everything together.
That being said, this album is certainly “a grower,” so don’t expect to be hooked on the first listen. But for those listeners willing to spend time with Blue Record, they will find the band has crafted an album that is more than just another “sludge-metal record”. It is a modern day rock opus that calls to mind the musical greats of old.
Randy’s Picks: “The Sweetest Curse,” “Jake Leg,” “A Horse Called Golgatha.”