Album Review: Baroness – Blue Record

October 18, 2009

I think I see a few phallic symbols.

Concept: Virginia sludge rock group continues their ‘primary’ saga, following their Eps 1, 2, 3, and their Red Album.

Sound: Rock music isn’t really in need of any more throwbacks — there’s still a bad taste in its mouth after Wolfmother, Chickenfoot, and countless others. On the other hand Baroness is better at achieving the old-school appeal, keeping close to southern touches and frequent interludes that recall all the good elements of Alice In Chains and Led Zeppelin. There are two major gripes with the sound: first and foremost the vocalist’s goofy macho bellow, and the drummer’s affinity for ‘dance’ beats. Disco-style hi-hat hits on the offbeat have a hard time meshing with metal riffs, enough said. If the guitar work is your uncompromising focus in listening, though, this is an appreciable revival of metal’s brighter side.

Lyrics: Secondary, to be plain. Often vocals will not be introduced to a track until about three minutes in, are difficult to decipher between the vocalist’s tone and accent, and hold unusual themes. The album’s central image is the bullhead (a fish), and descriptions of its environment are typically nonsensical: “Steel that sleeps the eye/swollen and halo“. Okay, you guys are trying to keep things abstract, but there’s more to a reasonable, bearable sentence than grammar. Maybe they should team up with Chomsky for their next LP — Green Ideas Sleep Furiously.

Quick And Dirty: Overlooking poor vocals, this album does a decent job of putting the golden back in the oldies. An easygoing, less pretentious Mastodon? (♦♦♦½)

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