BARONESS – “Blue Record”

Two years after “Red Record”, the band become PFC Levski fans

The cover looks familiar? Yes. This is because Baroness’ frontman and guitarist is John Baizley, creator some quite characteristic artwork for bands like Darkest Hour and Pig Destroyer, for example. Artsy, huh?

Well, yes. And that Relapse invest themselves in a progressive-sludge metal band is no surprise either. A lot of people compare them to Mastodon who are this label’s golden egg laying goose. I’m usually not enough of pretentious artfag to write about bands like this one but I poured myself a glass of wine just to even things up…

Yes, my first association upon hearing “Blue Record” were Mastodon as well, although Baroness have a stronger punk vibe to their sound. The songs in the album aren’t the longest ones ever – they usually clock around four or five minutes, half of their length being an instrumental intro. During this time though, the band puts a lot of ideas in the songs, usually on multiple layers, so the CD is heavy to listen to. And that is the point.

The whole thing has a framework structure – opens with “Bullhead's Psalm” and closes with “Bullhead's Lament”. In between there are standout tracks like “Swollen and Halo” with its uniquely catchy intro melody that also appears as a prelude later. A Horse Called Golgotha” features a more distortion and a metal sound, while it also has a certain electronic vibe that brings me back to Killing Joke’s last one (a place I happily spend time at). And I personally couldn’t shake off the feeling that “The Gnashing” and its beginning remind me of Bulgarian punk-rockers Kontrol and their song about growing weed in the forest “Otivam tam”. And this is totally not a bad thing either, ha-ha!

The production is what you’d expect from a similar band. And it is intentionally not the crispest one ever – it features a lot of distortion and a 70’s sound. Super! The album sounds more focused and is easier to get into than its predecessor “Red Record”, which was much more of a case of “art for art’s sake”. At least as far as I understand. I also don’t know nothing about wine, but that one bottle I just drank sure made me feel good…

Verdict: 5 / 6

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