Sound — 9
I'll be honest - I had never listened to Baroness before listening to write this review. After listening to the first three songs on the album I went back and started at the beginning of their discography. Then I listened to them again. Then I started reading about them, and discovered they live in the same state as me, and somehow I had never encountered them before. I feel like I've seriously lost time in my life when I could have been enjoying their music, but I'm definitely loving their stuff now. They have a very unique sound by the way they blend progressive rock and metal with sludge and the best elements of alternative metal. The double album I am reviewing "Yellow and Green" is no exception, and is almost a masterpiece. I find myself excited about this album as I only get for half a dozen or so album releases a year, and doubly so as Baroness is a new discovery for me. After having listened to their full length studio releases I can say you can hear their sound evolve but in a way of more coming into their own instead of any really sudden dramatic changes. "Yellow and Green" is definitely not as heavy as some of their previous work, so there is a heads up for those who might find that as a turn off from the band.
In May of 2011 Baroness put up their official website and hinted that they were working on their next album. The album turned out to be a double album with the same label they've had since their debut release; Relapse Records. The album was produced by John Congleton once again, who has worked with a very wide variety of artists, and certainly seems to be tuned in with Baroness. Each of the discs have 9 tracks, and the first disc is approximately 40 minutes long and the second disc is approximately 35 minutes long, meaning the entire double album clocks in at around 75 minutes. Bassist and one of the founding members, Summer Welch, has also left the band but the reasons seem to remain a mystery at this point. Three singles have been released from the album, the first two on Baroness's official YouTube channel - "Take My Bones Away" released in mid May and "March to the Sea" released in early June. The third single, "Eula", was debuted on Sirius XM radio in mid June.
Trying to describe the sound of Baroness, in general, or this album, specifically, is very difficult but it is as if Silversun Pickups and Black Sabbath and Kyuss all got together to form a supergroup. There are a lot of readers who I know are very much into black metal, very heavy metal, etc., and you won't find that with Baroness - what you will find is a band that almost defies labels, except that they are clearly progressive. I would suggest that you check out a few tunes from the album on YouTube before you purchase the album, most notably I would suggest "March To The Sea" and "Collapse" to get an idea of what to expect, but personally I have no regrets and I will be purchasing their past releases in the very near future.
Lyrics — 9
John Baizley provides vocals in the band he helped form in 2003, as well as playing rhythm guitar. The lyrical content as well as the vocal delivery are really exactly right for the music. Something to keep in mind with Baroness is that they began as childhood friends, and initially were members of a punk/metal band together called Johnny Welfare and The Paychecks - basically, these guys have been playing together a long time and also, John Baizley has had a lot of time to work out lyrically and vocally exactly what their songs need. His vocal delivery really seems most like the vocal delivery in harder classic rock songs with just a touch of what you would expect from an alternative metal vocalist, which really works for their music. There is much less of the heavier vocals he has displayed on previous releases.
As a sample of the lyrics, here are the lyrics to "March To The Sea" from the "Yellow" part of the album: "There was an anchor, there was a silver-sweet refrain/ You tucked your fingers in between my troubled bones/ And what you did next was second to none/ You really let us down/ You tied yourself up and jumped in the sea never to come home/ You left me all alone/ Tell me when I will be whole again/ There was a whisper, Once there were heralds and parades/ You sang your secrets through the tolling of the day/ The fugitive room, the evergent tombs/ The the the silence and the cries/ The quickening beat, your march to the sea, never to return/ Sweep my feet, you've taken all of me/ Let me know, when you will let me go/ Heroin, where did you take my friend? / Tell me why those ropes are hanging high? / You left me alone". "March To The Sea" is a beautiful melancholy song.
Overall Impression — 9
Baroness will probably remain one of my biggest personal discoveries for 2012, and they definitely have a sound that is original and worthwhile. I don't regret purchasing their album, and will very soon own their other releases. As I said earlier in the review, I really don't know how to classify them besides comparisons I made earlier in the review. A lot of their earlier stuff sounds like more straightforward metal with a touch of sludge but this album definitely has much more in the way of a "progressive" and "alternative" sound in it than a lot of their earlier work. I personally love it all, as it all has its place.
My favorite song on the album would have to be "March To The Sea", but I have really enjoyed the whole double album in its entirety. It has a quality to it that I can't define, in some intangible way like some early '70s classic rock that was defining the genre at the time. I'm not saying that Baroness is defining a genre, but only that I get a similar feel from the album as I do from some of the iconic albums of the early 70's. Also, don't mistake me - the album is modern and sounds modern, but the songs are composed in a way and the tracks ordered in way that somehow makes this album feel both old and new. There are going to be some Baroness fans that are going to want to dislike this album because it IS different than their previous releases - it isn't as heavy, and it is much more exploratory than their previous releases - I beseech you to give it a listen or two to sink in before you make up your mind.